WASHINGTON — Work on the U.S. Army’s next-generation landing craft, the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light), is well underway, the company building the boats announced Tuesday.

The Washington state-based Vigor Works laid the keel for the first boat at its Vancouver, Washington, facility, according to a company release.

Vigor Works was awarded a nearly $1 billion contract in 2017 for the MSV(L). The Army and Vigor Works will develop a full-scale prototype for the boat over the next four years, then move to initial production of four vessels in 2022. The total buy will be 36 MSV(L)s.

The boat was designed in conjunction with BMT.

The MSV(L) replaces the aging Mike Boats. The 100-foot MSV(L) will be able to haul one M1A2 Abrams tank, two Stryker armored vehicles with slat armor or four Joint Light Tactical Cehicles with trailers. It will have a top speed of 18 knots, 15 knots fully loaded and a range of about 350 miles.

The contract is a 10-year, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract. Vigor Works beat out four competitors for the job.

The Mike boats weren’t large enough, nor did they have the range required to haul modern Army equipment over the ranges necessary in a denied combat zone.

The boats are designed to operate at extended ranges, moving personnel, materiel and equipment from deep-draft sealift ships off the coast and bring it to inland waterways. It will be designed to bring its cargo to degraded ports, as well as unimproved or denied beachheads.

David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.

More In Naval
Chinese-Russian task force sails around Japan
A joint Chinese-Russian naval armada has sailed around Japan following a joint exercise in the Sea of Japan, sailing through a narrow international waterway between two of Japan’s main islands.
Eastern Shipbuilding opens new C5I integration facility for offshore patrol cutter
With the offshore patrol cutter slated to get a top-of-the-line C5ISR system, Northrop Grumman and its industry partners will work through integrating the whole system at this spacious new facility ahead of installing the gear onto the ship hulls themselves, to catch any integration hiccups early and save time and money during sea trials.