Thursday, July 17, 2014

Boats With Wheels for Australian Navy

In "Ship-to-shore utility key link in ADF amphibious vision" (Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter, Jun 2014), Ian Bostock wrote that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) would have a problem getting people and supplies from their new amphibious ships to shore. The ADF has only a few old amphibious cargo vehicles (LARC). Other vehicles will need to be transported in a few landing barges. Even the rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIB) will need trailers for launching from the well decks of the ships. 

One option would be to make the inflatable boats amphibious, by adding three retractable wheels, as with  New Zealand’s Sealegs amphibious rigid inflatable boat. These can self launch and recover through the well deck of an amphibious ship (and also drive over sand bars and up the beach). A lower cost option would be un-powered wheels, with the crew pushing the boat.

The Australian Light Armoured Vehicle has limited amphibious capability, which could be supplemented with additional flotation using RHIB technology and propulsion for beach landings. New Zealand company Lancer manufacture inflatable tubes up to 20m long and 1 m diameter and these have been used for military purposes. The bow of the vessel could be simply deflated to allow loading and unloading the vehicle. The boat could be fixed to the vehicle, with the wheels protracting through the bottom, so it could be driven on land. The Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle could be similarly adapted; while is is not designed to be amphibious, it can ford to a depth of 1.2 m without any preparation. The French EFA floating bridge, with a 50 tonne capacity, shows that military vehicle using inflatable flotation is feasable.

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