The U.S. Marines Want the Ability to Sink Ships

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Yes, the U.S. Marines are well known for invading islands and wresting them away from others during a conflict. They also have a lesser-known responsibility to defend them, and the Corps may be getting new ship-killing missiles to aid them in that task.

U.S. Marines occupied Iceland during World War II to prevent Germany from snatching it up. Days after Pearl Harbor, Marine defenders of Wake Island staged a vigorous defense of the South Pacific island that included sinking the Japanese destroyers Kisaragi and Hayate.

In a future great power conflict, Marines could find themselves stuck on an island and isolated from other U.S. forces in the South China or Baltic seas, a repeat of the campaign on Guadalcanal during World War II. Back then, Japanese ships bombarded the Marines with little effect, but modern land-attack missiles and precision artillery could do far more damage, which is why the USMC wants more firepower of its own.

Harpoon missile launched from the guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville.


The U.S. Marine Corps wants to be able to sink ships, and it wants that ability fast. The service is looking to field its own anti-ship missiles to defend Marines on shore from nearby enemy warships.

The Marines call the system Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System, or NMESIS (“Nemesis”) for short. The system would involve mounting anti-ship missiles on trucks. According to Breaking Defense, the service is looking at the Lockheed Martin Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, the Raytheon/Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (above), and the older Boeing Harpoon anti-ship missile. NMESIS could create a no-go zone for enemy ships until friendly forces return. Alternately, NMESIS could defend beachheads from enemy naval attack.

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