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ARM MERCHANT SHIPS?
Should merchant ships transiting high risk areas carry small arms for defense against pirates?

Selected crew should be trained and have guns available
Professional armed security teams should be hired
No guns on merchant ships, ever

May 16, 2009

Marinette teams with Boeing for Navy hovercraft program

Marinette Marine Corporation is hoping to get into hovercraft construction.

Earlier this month, Marinette,which is now a subsidiary of Fincantieri Marine Group, LLC, and the Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] announced a teaming effort to capture the U.S. Navy's Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC) program and provide a lower cost, higher availability, next-generation platform that will replace the existing Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) .

"In the process of creating this team, we carefully considered all of the innovative and unique requirements the Navy has outlined for this platform," said Richard McCreary, president and CEO of Marinette Marine. "Our team combines Fincantieri's world-class expertise in naval architecture and ship construction with Boeing's advanced rotorcraft systems, integration and program management expertise to help the Navy fill its sea basing-to-shore transport needs. Boeing, as a leader in rotorcraft technology and expert in systems reliability, durability and integration, augments Marinette's capabilities perfectly."

Marinette Marine will be the prime contractor and hull form shipbuilder; Boeing will design, supply and integrate the platform's advanced rotorcraft systems.

"We are excited to team with Marinette for this important program," said Phil Dunford, vice president and general manager of Boeing Rotorcraft Systems. "The SSC is essentially a low-flying rotorcraft designed to carry heavy loads. This mission plays right into Boeing's strengths for innovative heavy-lift rotorcraft, systems integration and global support services."

The ten-year SSC program provides for the construction of 80 hovercraft, worth overall roughly $4 billion dollars.

"This year, during which we entered the U.S. defense market with the purchase of American shipyards," commented Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, "has already been marked by an important achievement: the awarding of an order to build a second ship in the LCS program, scheduled for construction at Marinette Marine shipyard."

"We are also keeping a close eye on further opportunities which are arising in the States, in a market which develops programs every year that are unrivalled in the world," he continued. "I am confident that, also through alliances such as our teaming with Boeing, in the years to come we will succeed in gaining a leading position among the partners of the US Navy, providing products of high quality at highly competitive costs."

According to information released by NAVSEA at an Industry Day last year, the Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC) will provide high speed, over the horizon, heavy lift capability to transport personnel, equipment, and material for the United States Marine Corps' Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) as established for year 2015 and beyond. The SSC will have the ability to operate in the well deck of U.S. Navy amphibious ships, operate in planned amphibious and Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) ships, operate over beaches, ice, mud, and marsh areas, operate in inland regions, ascend a beach gradient of five degrees from standstill, and transport a cargo load of approximately 73-75 short tons.

Although specifications for the SSC are not finalized, it is assumed the SSC will have capability and performance equivalent to, or exceeding that of, the craft completing the LCAC Service Life Extension Program (SLEP). For reference, the LCAC SLEP has a design payload of 140,000 pounds, a deck area of 1809 square feet, and a speed of 40+ knots at a design weight of 344,685 pounds in calm seas. LCAC SLEP is operational through Sea State 3. The following performance improvements for the SSC will be analyzed during development: ability to operate in higher sea state conditions; increased payload, range, and speed; reduced crew; reduced maintenance and operational costs; and increased reliability and maintainability.

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