The Navy plans to operate 28 to 30 of the smaller amphibious ships, which are comparatively cheaper than a new destroyer costing more than $1.5 billion.
The number of the ships to be based in Hawaii and a possible site for practice landings remain unclear. Marine Littoral Regiments may also operate in Guam and Japan as counterweights to China’s growing naval fleet.
Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, head of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, said on Feb. 10 that a variety of assets including the new, smaller vessels will allow Marines to rapidly distribute what amounts to reinforced, platoon-size elements with a big impact.
“In the past you think, ‘Well, there’s 75 Marines in location X. They’re not a threat,’” Smith said. “If I can sink one of your $1.5 billion warships with a $1.5 million missile, I am a threat.”