Textron Systems New Orleans held a ceremony on Monday to mark the start of production of the Navy's newest hovercraft: a landing craft designed to haul vehicles, heavy equipment, and supplies over water and beaches.
The new craft, the “Ship to Shore Connector,” has been in development for two years. The MT7 gas turbine engine, supplied by Rolls Royce, will increase the hovercraft’s power by 25 percent while reducing fuel consumption by 11 percent. They will also have advanced communication systems, allowing for a smaller onboard crew.
Crews are currently working on the aluminum hull for a test and training model at Textron's shipyard in Eastern New Orleans. The facility is more than 600,000 square feet on the Gulf of Mexico, allowing production models to come off the assembly line and move directly into open water for testing.
More than 93 percent of the work on the landing craft will be done in New Orleans, with a small portion of the production in California and Minnesota. It's expected to be finished in 2017.
Designed to last for 30 years, SSC hovercraft will fit in the well deck of Navy amphibious ships, and will be able to travel at speeds of 35 knots over 2-foot waves, while carrying 74 tons of cargo.
Textron has been making the Navy's current amphibious landing craft for 20 years. The current models, called LCAC ("Landing Craft, Air Cushion”) were increasingly being pushed to their capacity limits when carrying heavier equipment, like the Marines’ 68-ton M1 Abrams tank.
Textron is fitting some of those LCAC’s with new equipment to extend their life spans.
Support for Tech and Innovation reporting on WWNO is provided by Bellwether Technology.