Vigor to build U.S. Army's Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) in a 10-year deal.

RENDERING: VIGOR/US ARMY - Vigor will build the Army's new Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) for moving tanks and troops.

Portland-area shipbuilder Vigor will build the U.S. Army's next generation landing craft.

The company announced Monday that the contract represents the largest award in Vigor's history with a total value of $979,390,000 over a ten-year period. It will provide sustained full time employment for roughly 200 skilled artisans.

"This award is the culmination of a five year process of research and development that first began with Kvichak prior to its merger with Vigor," explains Frank Foti, Vigor CEO. "We are grateful for the exceptional work done by our entire team and honored to have been selected to serve the Army in this important project."

The deal is a 10-year, firm fixed price, Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contract. It calls for one prototype vessel, four vessels under low rate production, and up to thirty two additional vessels for use by Army Mariners in even the most difficult environments.

The Vigor Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) design was developed in partnership with BMT.

The Army is tapping into some deep maritime roots. British company BMT is known for its CAIMEN Landing Craft family. BMT was established in 1985 when the British Ship Research Association (BSRA) merged with the National Maritime Institute (NMI).

The BSRA was founded by Charles Parsons whose turbine design delivered Turbinia to the Royal Navy in 1897 and was developed and integrated within HMS Dreadnought, whose 1906 launch marked the first modern battleship and revolutionized naval technology.

The Army's current craft, LCM-8, is seen as less flexible and slower. The first new Army watercraft in decades, it will displace the Army's fleet of Vietnam-era Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM-8) boats

Soldiers need to land on beaches and rocky shores, often arriving through shallow waterways.

RENDERING COURTESY: VIGOR/US ARMY - Vigor will build the Army's new Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) for moving tanks and troops.

Vigor said "the MSV (L)'s tribow monohull is an innovative yet deceptively simple design that provides superior maneuverability and stability in high sea states, through the littorals and within inland waterways in support of land-based operations."

An Army spokesperson said, "The MSV(L) program is specifically designed to deliver a new vessel that enables Army mariners to carry the modern, combat-configured equipment into diverse littoral settings--giving commanders greater maneuver options, especially in anti-access, area-denial environments."

"Phase one of the program will begin immediately and center on design refinement and prototype construction," said Tim Kolb, general manager of Vigor Ballard who spearheaded the proposal process.

Vigor's team currently consists of a number of key partners including BMT, Gladding-Hearn and Northrop Grumman.

Vigor is a specialized shipbuilder and complex fabricator. The company merged with Oregon Ironworks in 2014. Oregon Iron Works, located in Clackamas, became a division of Vigor Industrial called Vigor Works. The manufacturing and ship repair company employs about 2,300 people in nine locations in Alaska, Washington and Oregon including 1,100 in the Portland area. Oregon Ironworks made Portland Streetcars.

Heavy tanks

With the expected ability to operate in five feet of water, the MSV(L) will be designed to carry a combat-configured main battle tank, two Strykers, or four Joint Light Tactical Vehicles into a wide range of littoral environments. With a planned range of 360 nautical miles and a speed of 15 knots fully laden, it will significantly improve the Army's ability to maneuver land power when and where commanders need it.

Over the next four years, the Army will work with Vigor as it produces a full-scale prototype for additional evaluation and to inform the program's final requirements. A "Milestone C" decision and authorization for low rate initial production of the first four vessels are scheduled for the end of fiscal year 2021, followed by a full-rate production decision in fiscal year 2023. The Army seeks to buy 36 total vessels for use by Army mariners around the world.

RENDERING COURTESY: VIGOR/ US ARMY - Vigor will build the Army's new Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) for moving tanks and troops.

Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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