Mobile Offshore Base: Theory or Reality

A Mobile Offshore Base (MOB), in theory, is a number of independently propelled semisubmersible modules that can be easily deployed to areas in need of military assistance. It’s primary functions would be providing a landing platform for fixed and rotary wing aircraft and stowage and transport of military cargo and personnel.  The size of the base would be virtually unlimited since each module is completely self-sustaining with personnel housing, equipment maintenance functions, cargo space, and logistical support.  An full MOB platform could range from a single module to a number of them.  GlobalSecurity.org tells us about the assembly:

Each module consists of a box-type deck supported by multiple columns on two parallel pontoons. When transiting between operational sites, the module is deballasted and travels with the pontoons on the surface much like a catamaran. When on site, the module is ballasted down so that the pontoons are submerged below the surface wave zone, thereby minimizing the wave-induced dynamic motions. The decks, which store rolling stock and dry cargo, are all located above the wave crests. The columns provide structural support and hydrostatic stability against overturning.

Well, seems like a good idea, but is it a realistic and cost effective solution?

To answer these tough questions, a program was set up in 2000 by the Office of Naval Research that would test the technological feasibility and estimate the cost of such large structures.

The program was able to determine that existing shipyards in the U.S. did have the capabilities to produce MOB’s up to 2 kilometer’s long and cost of such bases would be about $1.5B for a single module, with the entire 2k platform ranging from $5B to $8B.

In 2001, it was finally concluded that while it was technically possible to develop 2 Kilometer long MOB’s, it was not a cost effective solution.  Alternatives such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers were favored.

Looking into the future, given cost-reducing technological advancements, we’ll just have to see if the concept of a Mobile Offshore Base will ever be put into production.

Read the full article from Global Security HERE