September 3, 2020 – The Navy’s newest Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) hovercraft arrived at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) Sept. 2.
The two craft, LCAC-100 and LCAC-101, were escorted by NSWC PCD’s research, development, test and evaluation craft (RDT&E) craft, LCAC-91. This significant milestone marks the first new LCAC to arrive in Panama City in 19 years. The last LCAC, LCAC-91, was delivered in 2001. This effort is part of the Navy’s Ship to Shore Connector program which calls for the procurement of 72 craft with a separate craft serving as a test and training craft.
LCAC-100 and LCAC-101 class hovercraft will replace the legacy LCAC to provide the U.S. Navy and United States Marine Corps expeditionary team with a more reliable and capable high speed, amphibious connector to deliver Sailors and Marines and their equipment from ship to shore.
Capt. David Back, NSWC PCD commanding officer, said the two crafts are a welcomed addition to the lab and is proud of NSWC PCD’s contribution to the fleet.
“Arrival of the 100-Class LCACs is a significant milestone in our command’s history,” said Back. “NSWC PCD will continue our tradition of air cushion vehicle technical excellence by delivering solutions that enable the amphibious fleet to meet mission requirements.”
LCAC-100 will serve as a RDT&E craft residing at NSWC PCD for continual development and integration of new technology and enhancements into the Fleet. LCAC 101 will also support first of class T&E prior to entering the fleet.
Mitch Martin, NSWC PCD LCAC operator and former fleet operator said he is excited about the craft delivery and seeing this come to fruition.
“Having been in the LCAC program for over 30 years as a Sailor and a civilian, I witnessed and was involved in some way for most of the evolution of the legacy and service life extension program craft,” said Martin. “Being able to do that now as part of the team that transits the next generation, first of class LCAC to NSWC PCD, completes the full circle of my LCAC career.”
LCAC vehicles have been essential to U.S. Navy and Marine Corps amphibious operations and have provided humanitarian aid during natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010.
This delivery is significant to advancing the National Defense Strategy by enabling U.S. Navy and Marine Corps amphibious forces the increased capability to maneuver in key maritime terrain and to maintain warfighting dominance.
Martin added that many individuals have invested significant time and effort into this program over the years and it is very rewarding to the NSWC PCD team to play a prominent role in the delivery of the LCACs.