Return of the Sea Control Ship

CIMSEC – Today, a confluence of events has made revisiting the Sea Control Ship a vital task for the sea services. From commissioning new, large-deck amphibious assault ships specifically designed to maximize aircraft operations, expanding ARG-MEU mission sets via the tiltrotor MV-22 Osprey, and most significantly the imminent deployment of the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), such a ship with its vertical/short take-off and landing (V/STOL) aircraft and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters could conduct ASW and carry out other sea control missions such as surface warfare (SUW). Additionally its air group of F-35B aircraft could conduct strike missions in lower intensity conflict situations such as the U.S. in Libya in 2011. Such a platform is the key to the future of maritime warfare not because it is a replacement for the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft carrier, but rather because it is a complement that will free up the larger and all too few fleet nuclear powered aircraft carriers to focus on the power projection mission of striking enemy targets inland during a high intensity conflict.