A large ship arrives off a port devastated by natural or military forces. The ship contains badly needed supplies but the port infrastructure has been destroyed. This and other scenarios can stall the best-planned sealift logistics, but now an innovative new program has designed, and is building, the solution.
A description of Joint Modular Lighter System (JMLS) as published on the Home Page at the Seabee Logistics Center (formerly CESO) explains the requirements: "The Joint Modular Lighter System (JMLS) will be a new system comprised of powered and non-powered floating platforms. The platforms shall be assembled from International Organization of Standardization
(ISO) container compatible interchangeable, modular components (modules) and other equipment. JMLS will be used to support Commander in Chief (CINC) Organization & Operations plans.
The purpose of JMLS is to provide the CINC a method of discharging dry cargo from Strategic Sealift Ships and moving cargo to shore in the event a port is denied, degraded or not available. JMLS will permit dry cargo throughput through sea state 3 conditions. In addition, the system shall be fully interoperable with all Joint Logistics Over The Shore (JLOTS) equipment and have maximum flexibility to be adapted to multiple uses in support of Logistics Over The Shore (LOTS) and JLOTS operations. JMLS will accommodate both Roll-On/Roll-Off (RO/RO) and Load-On/Load-Off (LO/LO) of rolling stock and cargo.
"The JMLS is a phased acquisition program. Currently in Phase two, the JMLS project has adopted an Integrated Product and Process Development (IPPD) as the fundamental approach to satisfying program requirements.
A contractor team comprised of CDI Marine Company Baltimore Marine Industries
, Band Lavis and Associates, and American Management Systems are partnered with the Naval Facilities Engineering Command and other Government agencies to demonstrate the advancements represented in the new system.
Marine engines were selected for the powered modules. The new six-cylinder, 19-liter, electronic fuel system QSK19 engines with an enhanced 760 HP rating are being mated to Omega's water pump drive units at the firm's Netherlands plant prior to shipment to the U.S. for installation in the modules. The drive units as they arrive at Baltimore Marine Industries (BMI) for installation in the roughly 40x8x8-ft. modules are approximately 35x7x4 ft. wide. They enclose the engine and a horizontal propeller that draws water up from the bottom to a rotating drum from which it can be directed out through four ducts that provide both propulsion and steerage. Cooling pipes for the engine's heat exchanger are internal to the thruster ducts.
While relatively new to the American market, similar propulsion systems are in use on Europe's inland waterways. At least one U.S. inland waterway operator is installing a Cummins-powered Omega unit on the front of a petroleum products barge. Baltimore Marine Industries' Richard Ralph reports that the first of the un-powered modules are currently undergoing marine testing. The first of the powered modules are expected to be ready for sea trials in late November or early December. Current plans, in this phase, call for a total of 56 non-powered and four powered modules to be built over the next three months. These will then go into a test program to demonstrate the functionality of the system.