Use of Tarawa class amphibious assault ships: An option for Brazilian offshore operation logistics

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Vieira da Fonseca, J.M.
Meister, S.
De Andrade, D.
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Oil exploration in the Brazilian pre-salt fields poses a significant challenge for helicopter offshore operation. The distance between the pre-salt fields and the coast is, in average, greater than 280 km. This justifies the acquisition, retrofit and use of decommissioned and demilitarized Tarawa class amphibious assault ships, as support points working not only as passengers’ distribution hubs, but also as a maintenance center for all helicopter operators and as a field hospital in case of accidents. In case of bad weather, it could act as a hotel sheltering the passengers until the improvement of the meteorological conditions. Medium and heavy helicopters would bring passengers from the shore and small or medium helicopters would distribute them between the various rigs in order to bring down costs and increase the safety of operations. During the retrofit, modern navigation and air traffic control equipment should be installed, transforming the ship in a modern floating FBO. The advantage of the use of a former amphibious assault ship lies in the fact that it was originally designed to operate with medium and heavy helicopters, having a long and obstacle-free flight deck, with various spots for takeoffs and landings. Beyond that, it has two elevators able to transport helicopters from the flight deck to the hangar deck where they can be parked or necessary maintenance performed. The aft-well deck or docking well could be used for fast boats to transport people to and from the shore. These ships are out of operation and awaiting disposal and could be purchased by a small price.