Fort Eustis, Va. -- December 21, 2011 -- The Logistics Support Vessel (LSV4), Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker, returned to the Army watercraft fleet in November after the successful completion of its six-month On Condition Cyclic Maintenance and three-month Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), which returned 10 years of useful life to the vessel.

"The SLEP enhances our ability as Army Mariners to maintain the safe, economical, efficient and effective operation of the vessel while ensuring self-sustainability in austere worldwide operations in support of the Warfighter," said Chief Warrant Officer Three Phil Gilmore, First Mate of the LSV4 and Executive Officer, 1099th Transportation Detachment.

The LSV class vessel is the largest watercraft in the Army fleet. It is designed to give the Army strategic capability to deliver its vehicles and cargo within a theatre of operations. These ships are equipped with front and rear ramps which allow for expedited loading and off loading. The LSV's cargo deck is able to load any vehicle in the Army's inventory, and has the capability to transport up to 15 M1 Abrams battle tanks.

When the LSV class was first fielded by the Army in 1988 it had an expected service life of 26-years or until Fiscal Year 2014. In 2007, the Product Director for Army Watercraft Systems (PD AWS) began to modernize the eight ship LSV fleet, extending their service life to FY2024. This ten year service life extension allows the LSV platform to stay relevant, enabling it to remain Army's in theatre workhorse when it comes to moving large amounts of cargo and equipment. The LSV4 SLEP is a vital piece of the overall life cycle management of the Army watercraft fleet.

"Every top-level Army strategic document we are working off of today calls for an expeditionary capability, austere access capability and the ability for the joint ground force commander to have the capability to overcome or bypass degraded infrastructure in an AOR [Area of Responsibility]. This is no surprise to Army Mariners; these capabilities are what Army Watercraft have always brought to the table and will continue to bring to the future Army," said Chief Warrant Officer Five Michael Wichterman, the Chief Warrant Officer for the Combined Arms Support Command.

Due to the importance of the LSV's mission and the high operational tempo in theater, removing just one of the eight LSV's from the battlefield has a huge impact.

"Recognizing this issue, we developed a strategy and execution plan to maximize the amount of improvements made in the shortest amount of time possible…all within an affordable solution," said Shannon Tighe, PD AWS.

To accomplish this ambitious plan, PD AWS combined on-condition cyclic maintenance (OCCM) with the SLEP improvements. This bold approach reduced the overall impact to the operational schedule and mitigated the overall costs of the program. By combining traditional OCCM with the SLEP, PD AWS efficiently conducted major engine overhauls, hull metal replacements, and other modifications in parallel while the LSV4 was in dry-dock.

Other LSV SLEP improvements included several major vessel modifications such as on-the-bridge, navigation and communication hardware and software upgrades, and installation of a new common operating picture system and Secret Internet Protocol Router Network. A man overboard detection system was also added, as well as force protection upgrades including new MK 93 gun mounts, ballistic shielding and body armor stowage. Engineering systems improvements included overhauling the main propulsion, generator, and bow thruster engines along with refurbished propellers and shafts. Additional installations incorporated a new dual 50-ton air conditioning system and a new shipboard electrical power management system. Topside and quality of life improvements, such as galley and mess refurbishment, additional berthing to accommodate required vessel crew, laundry facility improvements, along with the relocation of sick bay and the machine shop were also completed.

With the SLEP now complete, the LSV4 will soon return to the fight. The additional ten years of service life added during this process enables the LSV4 to continue providing ground commanders the unprecedented maneuver flexibility they need well into the future.

The LSV program is managed by PD AWS, the designated life cycle manager for all Army watercraft systems and subsystems. PD AWS falls under the leadership of Project Manager, Force Projection (PM FP) within the Program Executive Officer, Combat Support and Combat Service Support (PEO CS&CSS).