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The Atlantic Conveyor, FIPASS and a Mexeflote

ACL G3 ROR Container Ship

About three quarters through the the next post in the Ship to Shore series, on the Falkland Islands, but in the course of surfing/research came across some amazing pictures that I thought I would share beforehand.

When the Atlantic Conveyor was lost, the Atlantic Container Line eventually commissioned a replacement, the G3 class

From the ACL web site

Five, newly constructed ACL G-3 (third generation) RORO/Containerships, the largest of their kind in the world (2160 TEUs), enter the North Atlantic service. The G-3s are fuel efficient and highly flexible for a wide mix of cargoes. The G-2 vessels are phased out and scrapped.

What I didn’t know, and it is a bit of a revelation to be honest, is that the G3 class looks like it was tested with a Mexeflote (as part of an interface between the rear ramp and another mexeflote) and what looks like a temporary helipad.

Look at the images below

ACL G3 amphibious operations
ACL G3 amphibious operations
ACL G3 with helideck
ACL G3 with helideck
ACL G3 with Mexeflote
ACL G3 with Mexeflote

Can anyone shed any light on this or do you think this was dangerous common sense and soon snuffed out!!

On a side issue, is this the design that should have been used for the Points?





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21 Responses

  1. When AC was ordered she had some features that would be useful for military use designed in. Things like a self-supporting ramp, slightly increased vehicle deck loading etc. Trialled briefly post acceptance and then never used again to the best of my knowledge.

    Not what the Point should have been at all. Too big, limited vehicle space (the day of the large Ro-Con was ending) hence the cellular holds for containers, which need big cranes to unload.

    The whole point of the Points (sorry) is to bring LIMS and a limited number of containers that can be handled by RTCH. To do that you need Ro-Ro configuration, but it has to be relatively small to fit the trade pattern that the PFI works on.

  2. Similar happened back in the 1950s with the Atlantic Steam Navigation Company’s LST replacements.

  3. The whole point of the Points (sorry) is to bring LIMS and a limited number of containers that can be handled by RTCH. To do that you need Ro-Ro configuration, but it has to be relatively small to fit the trade pattern that the PFI works on

    sorry, was do you mean here ? The RTCH is for handling containers once ashore, not to get them off the Points ?

    Can’t help on mexe/R3./FIPASS – before my time guv. having said that we did have in our mexe presentation slide pack an old photo of maxi-mexe as auxiliary helo spot off the back of an LSL. don’t know if ever done in anger !

    what is interesting is to what extent the supported stern ramp was taken forward into the Point designs ; weren’t they being used in Cyprus recently to offload direct to a mexe jetty ?

  4. What I meant is that you don’t have a hoofing great container crane at your offload point, so cellular ships are of limited use. You have to make use of tugs/trailers onboard and RCTH offboard, although I have stood on the pan at Marchwood and watched a loaded container handler go aboard Hurst Point. There are a few remaining Con-Ro routes serving Africa and transplant, but they’re pretty big ships.

    The Point stern ramp is self-supporting to a (very) useful weight. A lesson learned prior to them being specified.

  5. Thanks N-A-B very clear

    The lack of mexe development for use with the Points was where I came into this discussion; although they are very flexible they are of course limited to those places with good roro berths or a much less capable offload via the side ramp. I think mexe plus a bit of ingenuity could deliver a redeployable linkspan and open up any decent alongside berth to the Points.

  6. Not sure what you mean Twecky. I have numerous pictures of a Point moored stern on to a Mexe causeway. One was even on the old MoD site, but can’t find it now. It’s perfectly possible, but of course limited to a degree by sea state, wind and current. The side ramp is limited length and (ISTR) not self supporting, so you tend to struggle with tidal range and change in draft of ship as she unloads, unless you have a nice quayside of a suitable height.

    There was some thought to using jack-up barges and either BR90 or LSB bridging kits to provide a smaller version of the US ELCAS system. The master of one of the Points was perfectly happy with the idea of berthing stern on to such a causeway. However, the funding went away before we ever got to trial it in an early example of TELIC/HERRICK centric budgetting.

    With all these things, it’s a trade off between the amount of cargo space you take up and time taken to offload, vs the end effect. Big stuff takes time to get to theatre. Commercially chartered stuff ditto and you’d be surprised but MoD is actually quite good at the spot charter game. They understand completely the limitations and trade-off between type of ship, charter price and availability.

  7. NaB, thats interesting to know, about the jack up barge and BR90/LSB, sort of the direction I was going with some of the future capabilities posts although not sure BR90 or even LSB would be completely ideal

    Twecky, there is a nice picture of a Mexe and Point on the Flensburger web site

    direct link to the image

    I have on somewhere on my Flickr account of them being used in Cyprus, will have to dig it out

  8. The problem with Jack-Ups and bridges is that the loads involved if you want to do the full MLC range and the full elements of things like wind, current, storm surge etc get quite large, quite quickly. That tends to lead to jack-ups at the larger end of the mdoular scale, which then means they take up quite a bit of deck space and take quite some time to get up and running. The longer it takes, the less relevant it becomes.

    It is highly unllikely that we’re going to need the equivalent of a Mulberry for any sustained length of time (SDSR says we’re not planning on significant levels of force above and beyond 3Cdo being put ashore), which kind of points towards sea-basing with a “pull” logistics philosophy. Whatever the reason, no-one seems to want to pay for EDPI as a real enabler atm.

  9. Thanks guys for the pics

    Yes I know Points can med-moor onto a mexe casuway but very seas state limited etc. I wasn’t aware of serious trials with BR90/jackups which is much more what i had in mind.N-A-B this is why I objected to the money spent on the Shwaibah port linkspan which would have more than covered some R&D for EDPI

    I agree we won’t need a mulberry but there are very many ports in the world where you might want to use a ro-ro but there simply isn’t the infrastructure. And fully agree the side ramp on the points is more of an emergency exit than act of war !

    My original question is why it has been so hard to get money spent on relatively cheap EDPI which seems a no-brainer !

  10. The USN has (had) three MPF-E ships which were CON/ROs specifically meant to carry both tactical equipment and containers for the Marines and Navy units. There ramps did in fact marry to what we call INLS pontoons configured as a RRDF Ro/ro Discharge Facility. Similar to Mexeflote as above but larger.

    The big difference is that the MPF-E, and LMSR type, ships all had standardized cranes which could lift every cargo item from container to MBT to 112 ton SLWT a warping tug made up of INLS pontoons.

    See also the US LOTS and Joint LOTS type operations which have a huge infrastructure to offload ships without a port at hand.

  11. For years sitting in Clarence yard in Gosport were a heap of containers labeled ‘Atlantic Conveyor’. MoD contributed to her cost so that if needs must she could rapidly be taken up from trade. What happened to the containers etc when Clarence Yard was sold?

  12. Another question – does the UK government still help fund large cruise liners so that they could be quickly converted as troop ships? Wonder if we could have a MV Point type arrangement where the UK say contributes to 4 and have one assigned to the RN/Army in regular rotation for training etc.

    Perhaps a chinook sized landing deck wouldn’t go amiss! Could be used as a croquet course in peace time ;)

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