The Textron Systems’ Ship-to-Shore Connector is the U.S. Navy’s replacement for the US Navy’s Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) hovercraft fleet. During on-water testing, Textron Marine & Land Systems and the U.S. Navy are testing initial craft functionality. The landing craft is designed for the US Navy and the US Marine Corps forces to transport personnel and armoured vehicles between naval ships and shore. The Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC) is also suited for amphibious assault, humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions. It can be deployed from naval ships such as landing platform dock, landing ship dock, LHD/LHA amphibious assault ships, and Expeditionary Transfer Dock.
The Ship-to-Shore Connector, which looks similar to the Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) it replaces, improves on the legacy craft by adding a fly-by-wire control system, a new drive and propulsion system and more powerful engines, all while reducing the total number of parts to simplify the logistics chain and maintenance requirements. The first Ship-to-Shore Connector, called LCAC 100, got underway in a bayou near the East New Orleans shipyard in 2018. Textron pilots had been conducting testing while tethered to a ramp ahead of time to prepare for the first in-water event, and the official builder’s trials would soon follow now that the craft is in the water.
Textron Marine & Land Systems and L-3 Communications entered a deal to develop the US Navy’s next-generation landing craft in October 2009. Aluminium structures manufacturer Alcoa Defense joined the SSC development team in September 2010. Textron Marine & Land Systems team received a $213m contract from the US Navy in July 2012 for the design and construction of one SSC test and training craft with an option for eight production craft. As the prime contractor, Textron Marine & Land Systems is in charge of building the craft, while L-3 Communications is responsible for the design, integration and testing of C4N suite (command, control, communication, computers and navigation).
Built using aluminium alloys, the SSC landing craft’s hull offers increased stability, corrosion resistance, and lower maintenance costs. The craft’s advanced skirt design permits high manoeuvrability over the sea, while reducing the drag. The overall length and beams of the SSC are 27.9m and 14.71m respectively. The craft is manned by five crew members including a pilot and a co-pilot. The craft has a full load displacement of 180.57t and a payload capacity of 74t. It can hold a single M1-A1 main battle tank on the 1,809ft² cargo deck or can carry up to 145 combat-equipped naval infantry in enclosed personnel transport module. The landing craft is fitted with two MK93 gun mounts, which can be armed with M2-HB .50 calibre machine gun, M-60/M240 7.62mm machine gun and MK19 40mm grenade launcher.