L-CAT® ship adapts to autonomous amphibious operations
On the occasion of the 2016 Euronaval Exhibition, which is taking place from 17 to 21 October 2016 in Paris, CNIM is presenting the new version of its L-CAT® Landing Catamaran.
Following the L-CAT® Ship-to-Shore version that is primarily operated on the basis of a BPC1, this is the 100% “Shore-to-Shore” version.
The L-CAT® Shore-to-Shore can operate on the basis of any coastal infrastructure: port, quay, slipway, beach. It has a greater range in order to ensure, with full autonomy and independence, a rapid connection and to disembark materiel and troops. Whereas the L-CAT® Ship-to-Shore benefitted from the protection of its mother ship (type BPC), the L-CAT® Shore-to-Shore is an autonomous system with its own means of communication, detection and self-defense. Going beyond amphibious operations, it responds perfectly to current maritime security needs, as well as to civil assistance requirements, such as the evacuation of populations or citizens in disaster-stricken areas.
Greater distances covered with full autonomy
The L-CAT® is an amphibious logistical support ship capable of rapidly transporting heavy loads. It can deploy an infantry platoon (40+ soldiers), a main battle tank (Leclerc, M1 Abrams or Leopard 2), armored vehicles and military equipment or rescue equipment when disasters strike. Its design is unique: thanks to its front and rear ramps and the movement of its platform, which is raised during transit and is lowered for disembarkation with a small draft, it allows for safe and rapid disembarkation. Therefore, the L-CAT® simultaneously has, in a unique design, the capabilities of both a high-speed catamaran and a landing barge.
Initially designed to depart from a well deckand to fulfil ship-to-shore or even shore-to-shore missions, this “two-in-one” ship is now available in a 100% Shore-to-Shore version in order to respond to intervention requirements with full autonomy and over greater distances. As a direct consequence of this, the cargo capacity of the L-CAT® Shore-to-Shore has been increased from the 80 metric tons for the L-CAT® Ship-to-Shore. It can travel more than 800 NM up to sea state 5.
Reinforced seaworthiness and autonomy
Hydrodynamic optimizations have made it possible to improve its behavior at sea when forced to ride waves, accelerate or maneuver. Initially mobile in the ship-to-shore version, its wheelhouse that is now fixed ensures 360° peripheral vision, guaranteeing optimal visibility in navigation and operation. Spacious, it can accommodate up to four crew members, which enables the command personnel to be centralized.
The improvements in terms of navigation are supplemented by a new superstructure design for the ship. The superstructures aim to provide more comfortable living conditions and a better reception area for the crew members and embarked personnel while in transit, thanks to new facilities in the cabins, command post and engine rooms. The fuel consumption of the L-CAT® shore-to-shore is optimized with regard to its new hydrodynamic performance. The move to a single propulsion line per hull, each being composed of an engine and a pump-jet, also enables operating and maintenance costs to be significantly reduced.
In terms of its means of self-defense, the L-CAT® is also protected and armed, primarily thanks to the integration of tele-operated cannons and armor-protected areas. It is therefore capable of defending itself, further reinforcing its operational autonomy. To this end, it also has improved communication capabilities, including a tactical data link and 360° optronic detection.
CNIM: a specialist in amphibious operations
“The operational requirements of navies consist in covering significant distances rapidly due to the area of their maritime territory and accessing undeveloped shores. Moreover, even in ship-to-shore designs, it is important to provide command ships with cover. In certain coastal areas, such as those in Asia, there are high-level tensions. Certain navies are seeking to benefit from the disembarkation capabilities without possessing a mother ship”, explains Matthias Bayart, Director of Defense Activity at CNIM. “At last, as a specialist in crossing solutions for the French Army, we have developed the ship that serves to land terrestrial forces”. The L-CAT® shore-to-shore responds perfectly to the combined land-sea requirements with an unequalled level of performance. With the L-CAT® and its two-in-one functions, CNIM has consolidated its leadership in amphibious operations”.
Since 2011, the L-CAT® has proven its worth in the French Navy, which uses four L-CAT® vessels designated EDA-R (Engin de Débarquement Amphibie Rapide – rapid amphibious landing craft), receiving excellent feedback via missions carried out on an international level. In April 2015, for example, the speed and disembarkation capabilities of the L-CAT® played a major role in the success of a high-risk operation to rescue civilians isolated in Yemen. Forty-four civilians were removed from danger. Moreover, the Egyptian Navy has just acquired two L-CAT® vessels. The first, attached to the BPC Gamal Abdel Nasser, has been in service since 1 June 2016. The second, attached to the BPC Anouar el Sadate, shall be delivered in September 2016 after the Egyptian crew members have been trained by CNIM in Saint-Nazaire.
Built in 2008, the first L-CAT®, for its part, has found a new vocation, that of carrying out tests on naval equipment at sea in order to approve their actual performance. The L-CAT® is currently being chartered to carry out acoustic sonar measurement trials in order to optimize the high-speed operations of that equipment. The fact that it has an operational working or storage surface of over 120 m2 has also aroused the interest of practitioners of anti-submarine combat – proof that the L-CAT® can provide genuine additional operational and logistical support in all circumstances.
Photos available upon request.