The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24), and Landing Craft, Air Cushions 86, 85 and 02 attached to Assault Craft Unit 4 (ACU 4) sail in formation Aug. 14, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jesse Schwab)

MODERN DAY MARINE 2024 — A recently signed out classified document aimed at amphibious ship readiness will provide a framework for the services to use moving forward, one that Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith today said will “outlast” the tenure of himself and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti.

“Lisa Franchetti’s signature is worth something. My signature is worth something and [Navy Secretary Carlos] Del Toro supports it. So, it’s worth something.” he said. “And when you see that visible signature, it’s a reminder to all hands that it’s all hands on deck time to get the amphibs ready.”

The two service chiefs in February signed out a letter to their respective three-star officers ordering a deep dive on amphibious ship readiness. That letter also calls for the services to synchronize their understanding of the requirements for training and certification of amphibious ships and how to meet them.

Smith, both as the assistant commandant and now commandant, has frequently pushed back against a public narrative that the Navy and Marine Corps are at odds with one another over amphibious shipbuilding  and highlighted the memo with the CNO as further proof the two services are in harmony. That narrative of discontent within the Pentagon was pervasive last year as Marine Corps brass publicly expressed displeasure with a “strategic pause” on amphibious shipbuilding in the fiscal year 2024 budget request.

Asked why the new memorandum was necessary if the services are already in agreement, the commandant told reporters it “just puts it on record.” He also said it was necessary for Marines to understand that amphibs are just one shipbuilding concern for the Navy.

“It’s incumbent upon Marines to understand that we’re not the only mission the Navy has,” he said. “Columbia-class submarine has challenges. Ford-class carrier has challenges. There’s challenges across the shipbuilding industry. But, my part that I’m responsible for is amphib warfare.”

While Marine Corps brass and their supporters on Capitol Hill were pleased to see the Navy’s new long-range shipbuilding plan does include continued amphib production, the concerns about the fleet’s readiness persist.

Last year, the readiness issues surfaced publicly when then-Commandant Gen. David Berger lamented that his service was unable to assist Turkey in aftermath of a powerful earthquake. Similar issues arose later in the year when unrest in Sudan led to evacuations of American citizens in country.

RELATED: Short On Amphibs For Turkey, Sudan, The Marines Grapple With Crisis Response Ethos

Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl is the Marine Corps’ top requirements officer and has been one of the most vocal senior officers about the issues and consequences concerning the amphibious fleet. When asked today by reporters if he was concerned about another “Turkey” or “Sudan” occurring, he didn’t wait for the question to end before answering with a resounding “Yes. Absolutely.”