Maritime Tales: A Company History Series | Episode 5

­Words by Dave McMillan, former CEO of Vard Marine Inc. (1989-2020)

In 2001, we partnered with Marinette Marine to develop a new concept for the US Army LSV-8 program that called for the next generation large drive-through landing craft.  We used the concept of the Williston Transporter RoRo log carrier, designed by Polar Design Associates, to develop a new innovative solution that was considerably superior in almost all ways to the traditional landing craft with better seakeeping, greater maneuverability and was easier to extract from a beach.  

Williston Transporter
Williston Transporter in operation during the winter on Lake Williston (image from Waterbridge Steel Inc.)

The Williston Transport used mechanical driven azimuth drives for propulsion and was designed to offload log bundles by beaching and extracting on the side of the lake without any external assistance. Over many years of operation, this concept proved to be extremely reliable and very efficient even during winter months when the lake was frozen.  

Using a similar concept, we elected to use a diesel electric propulsion system with four retractable drive units which, at the time, was still an expensive alternative to a traditional diesel mechanical system.  A full range of design calculations proved that through the use of retractable drives and a fast ballast system, the vessel could meet all the US Army beaching requirements and with a more traditional seagoing hullform, the vessel offered improved speed capability and better seakeeping characteristics.  Ultimately, the offeror of the program was not selected due to price; however, there was a patent taken out on the concept.

LSV concept
LSV Concept of drive-through deck with 4 azimuth retractable drives
Extract from US patent No. 20020134290A1 showing the retractable drives (4)