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Littoral Operations Center Research

The Littoral Operations Center at the Naval Postgraduate School provides a collaborative environment for the advancement of educational and research endeavors relating to the Littoral and its environs and seeks to align efforts, both internal and external to NPS, by facilitating active means of collaboration and providing a portal for information exchange among researchers and educators with common interests.

For Research Funding and/or Projects, please contact Wayne Porter, PhD, CAPT USN (Ret) at nwporter@nps.edu.

The Naval Postgraduate School's Dudley Knox Library is a repository of scholarly content in all formats on a range of subjects including the Littoral. 

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Littoral Operations Center Theses

Fighting the network: MANET management in support of littoral operations

by LT Matt Maupin, USN

This thesis won the Surface Navy Association Award for Academic Excellence in Surface Warfare Research (March 2016 graduation).

Advances in computer processing and communications capabilities have contributed to the recent explosion of mesh network technologies.  These technologies’ operational benefits are of particular interest for those operating in the littorals. The dynamic complexities of the littorals force tactical decision-makers to adapt to a constantly changing battlespace in a constrained temporal and spatial environment. Ongoing research into the integration of unmanned systems and sensors as mobile ad-hoc network (MANET) nodes highlights the significant potential to improve situational awareness and force efficiency in the littoral environment. However, difficulties associated with tactical network operations and management make the littorals particularly challenging. There remains a need for a unified approach to managing these networks in a coherent and effective manner. The complexity of the littorals emphasizes the inherent interconnectedness of MANET management and command and control (C2). As a result, new and innovative approaches to C2 are also required. This thesis explores the value of modern network management systems as they contribute to the richness of the human-network interface, as well as the integration of network management and maneuver at the tactical level. A novel, holistic framework for littoral MANET management and C2 as a corollary of cyber-physical maneuver is proposed as a result.

The advanced surface force fleet: a proposal for an alternate surface force structure and its impact in the Asian Pacific Theater

by LT Scott K. Richards, USN

This thesis addresses how an alternate surface fleet comprised of aircraft carriers (CVNs), guided missile destroyers (DDGs), and enhanced San Antonio class amphibious transport dock ships (eLPD 17s) of an equal replacement procurement cost compare in 14 measures of capabilities to the planned 2040 U.S. fleet, and how the two fleets compare in Asian Pacific Theater operations. The estimated procurement costs for the proposed eLPD 17 class ship and for the Navy’s planned 2040 fleet, and the composition of the equal procurement cost alternate fleet, The Advanced Surface Force Fleet, are determined. The two fleets are then compared using three different matrices: 14 measures of capabilities, the capability to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, and the capability to defeat an adversary in a maritime conflict. The Advanced Surface Force Fleet has more offensive capability than the Navy’s planned 2040 fleet. Furthermore, the eLPD 17 provides the Navy with an amphibious ship that can act autonomously in contested environments, with more surface ships that have offensive capability, and with a warship that can perform conventional surface combatant roles while maintaining the ability to perform traditional amphibious lift capabilities.

String of pearls : meeting the challenge of China's rising power across the Asian littoral

by Christopher Pehrson

China's rising maritime power is encountering American maritime power along the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) that connect China to vital energy resources in the Middle East and Africa. The "String of Pearls" describes the manifestation of China's rising geopolitical influence through efforts to increase access to ports and airfields, develop special diplomatic relationships, and modernize military forces that extend from the South China Sea through the Strait of Malacca, across the Indian Ocean, and on to the Arabian Gulf. A question posed by the "String of Pearls" is the uncertainty of whether China's growing influence is in accordance with Beijing's stated policy of "peaceful development," or if China one day will make a bid for regional primacy. This is a complex strategic situation that could determine the future direction of China's relationship with the United States, as well as China's relationship with neighbors throughout the region. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the "String of Pearls" from within the context of the post-Cold War global security environment and propose informed recommendations for U.S. policy and strategy. Substantive, results-oriented engagement supported by pragmatic military hedging is the best strategy to influence and encourage China to participate in the international community as a responsible stakeholder. Bold leadership and prudent foresight will enable the United States and China to reap the rewards of strategic cooperation and avert the calamity of a hostile confrontation.

Littoral combat vessels analysis and comparison of designs

by Bryan J. Christiansen

The introduction of new technologies force navies to adapt and the introduction of surface-to-surface anti-ship cruise missiles from a large number of small coastal combatants created vulnerability in the Navy's force structure of large, expensive, nonexpendable warships. To counter this threat, the adoption by the U.S. Navy of small, inexpensive, missile bearing vessels is recommended. Four alternative candidate vessels are evaluated using a mathematical simulation. The candidates are a Littoral Combat Ship with a surface warfare module, a National Security Cutter augmented with offensive and defensive weaponry, a "Sea Lance" inshore combat vessel, and a Combat Patrol Craft, a variant of the Cyclone class patrol craft augmented with offensive and defensive weaponry. Equal cost force structures for the four candidate vessels are developed, and then these forces are "fought" in simulated battles against a missile-firing opponent force of variable strength. Additional roles such as maritime interdiction and theater security cooperation are considered and the candidate vessels are qualitatively compared for their ability to perform in these missions. Sea Lance is demonstrated to be the most effective and lowest cost candidate vessel. The driving force behind this is the large number of vessels the equal-cost Sea Lance squadron makes possible by its low procurement and operating costs, a result predicted by Lanchester and Hughes because in naval combat, numerical superiority is the single most important factor in determining the outcome of a battle.