LARC Lighter, Amphibious, Resupply, Cargo

There are three types of amphibians which are capable of traveling over land or sea. The Lighter Amphibian Resupply Cargo V (LARC V) is a small amphibian used primarily to carry items such as CONEXES and other palletized cargo. The Amphibian Resupply Cargo (LARC XV) is a little larger but still used for the same purpose. By the mid-1980s most of these were located in Reserve units and were being phased out of the system. The LARC LX was used in Vietnam and is capable of carrying two 20-foot containers or one 40-foot container.

Brig Gen Frank Schaffer Besson returned to the US in 1948, and served for nearly five years as Deputy Chief of Army Transportation. Besson was promoted to Major General in 1950, and assumed command of the US Army Transportation Center and School at Fort Eustis in 1953. pioneered many concepts aimed at injecting greater speed and efficiency into the transportation system. He used containerization, roll-on/ roll-off vessels, and improved amphibious vessels, such as the 5-ton and 15-ton LARCs and the 60-ton BARC. The maiden voyage of the BARC (barge, amphibious, resupply, cargo) was at Fort Lawton, Washington in 1952. Maj. Gen. Besson, who was Chief of Army Transportation from 1958 to 1962, was instrumental in the purchase of them. The BARC stood for Barge Amphibious Resupply Cargo but was affectionately known as "Besson's Ark." Although no longer manufactured, all three sizes LARC-5, LARC-15, and LARC-60's still see service both within and outside the military.

There were 968 units originally built. As best records can indicate, over 600 of them were sank, just as merely a means of disposal [when the U.S. departed Vietnam in the '70s].


The BARC (barge, amphibious, resupply, cargo), later designated as the LARC LX (Lighter, Amphibious, Resupply, Cargo), could carry 60 tons of cargo, and was used to transport wheeled and tracked vehicles, including beach preparation equipment and general cargo from ship to shore or to inland transfer points. It was the only amphibian in the Army inventory capable of landing on a beach through breaking surf. The BARC was deck-loaded on a commercial vessel of heavy lift ship for transport overseas. The BARC had the ability to operate on lowstrength soils at a gross weight of 319,000 pounds (120,000-pound pay-load). It was capable of lightering 40-foot containers, which can be discharged from the LARC by crane, narrow straddle carriers, or rollers similar to those used in unloading cargo aircraft.

The maiden voyage of the BARC was at Fort Lawton, Washington in 1952. The four experimental BARCs were built by LeTourneau, Inc., which makes equipment much larger then the BARC, including off-shore oil drilling platforms. The BARC was designed to carry a 60-ton tank or fully equipped infantry company from ship to shore or back where there was no fixed port. Its empty weight was 97 1/2 tons. Its four tires were nine-and-a-half feet in diameter. It was 17-and-one-half feet high and powered by four 265 horsepower GMC marine diesel engines. Each engine drove one wheel on land. The two engines on each side of the BARC coupled to drive one of the twin propellers in the water. Top speed was 20 miles an hour on land and seven-and-a-half miles an hour in the water.

The name was changed to LARC (Lighter, Amphibious, Resupply, Cargo) in 1960. The LARC-60 transports wheeled and tracked vehicles, including beach preparation equipment and general cargo from ship to shore or to inland transfer points. It is the only amphibian in the Army inventory, and the only vessel capable of landing on a beach through a breaking surf. The LARC-60 can be deck-loaded on a commercial vessel or heavy lift ship for transport overseas. It can be transported on a semi-submersible vessel, in the well deck of an LSD, or aboard a SEABEE.

Characteristics and capabilities include the following:

  • Length overall: 63 feet.
  • Beam: 27 feet.
  • Displacement (weight): 88 LTONs (light).
  • Deck area: 527 square feet.
  • Payload: 60 tons.
  • Range: land, 60-ton load, 150 statue miles at 14 MPH; water, 60-ton load, 75 nautical miles at 6 knots.
  • Draft: 7.5 feet (light); 9 feet (loaded).

The LARCs didn't take part in actual operations again until they went to Vietnam to support the 101st Airborne Division in 1967 and later the 1st Cavalry Division in 1968. During July 1968, at Wunder Beach, the barcs were running twenty-four hours a day. The 5th Mechanized Division equipment, jeeps 3/4 and 2 1/2 ton trucks, M113, and M-60 tanks were arriving from the States aboard large ships called Seatrains. The Seatrains would achor close to shore, the barc would pull along side and a M-60 tank or two M-113's would be lowered onto the deck. The barc would make a quick run to the shore, pull upon the beach, drop the barc's ramp and someone would drive the equipment from the barc on to the Republic of Vietnam. Maintenance on the barc was simple, keep the fuel, oil, and air filters clean and the four 761's would run smooth as silk. This was the job the barc's were designed to accomplish and I remember the operation going off like clock work. There was a control tower on the beach that kept an eye on everything and directed everyone to the right places via radio. It was mostly stress free for the operators. They would engage the marine gear on the barc when the stern touched the water and ease the land transmission out of gear when the wheels no longer touched the shore.

Officials of at least two Army activities stated that the LARC-LX had several advantages over the LACV-30 and that it should be considered as an alternative to procurinq a new vessel. The LARC-LX is an amphibious craft, and the Army had 36 of them in 1979. In its technical report number 225, the Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity stated that despite its shortcomings in speed, the LARC-LX has no major deficiencies and is probably the most versatile lighteraqe vessel in the current inventory. Fuel consumption for its 60-ton cargo capacity is much lower than for the 30-ton LACV-30. For nominal weights, the comparative fuel consumption varies from 38 gallons per hour for the LARC-LX to 260 gallons per hour for the LACV-30.

In a June 1978 memorandum, the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics asked the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development if the LARC-LX has been seriously considered as an alternative to the LACV-30. The Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics stated that the extremely hiqh cost of the LACV-30 and the acceptable performance of the LARC-LX seemed to dictate an objective comparison of cost and capability factors. The memorandum also noted a number of advantages of the LARC-LX over the LACV-30.

The LARC-LX had increased load capability. It will carry two militarv vans or one 40-foot commercial container, and also will carry a tank or any general carqo up to 100 tons in a limited overload mode. LACV-30 will not carry 40-foot containers and can carry two military vans only when lightly loaded. The LARC-LX is not affected by minor slopes and surface gradations which cause major steering and maneuverability problems for the LACV-30.

The LARC-LX was a proven product. Maintainability and costs to support it are known. The degree of technical expertise of the crew and the amount of time to train operators and mechanics for the LARCLX can be satisfied with the "normal" pipeline soldier. Crew members and mechanics for the LACV-30 were hand picked and do not represent "average" soldiers normally received by the basic unit through current induction and training cycles. The sophistication and high cost of the LACV-30 suggest that some system must be used to hand pick and extensively train crew members.

Shop and maintenance support areas were far less than required for the LACV-30. No special hardstand is required as is mandatory for the LACV-30 which literally creates a "sandstorm" when moving across unimproved areas. The four engines in the LARC-LX provide greater reliability than the two engines in the LACV-30.

The LARC-60 Maintenance Area at Ft. Story is the maintenance and wash rack area for lighterage amphibious resupply cargo (LARC) vehicles. During the 1950s, the area was first used as the barge amphibious re-supply cargo (BARC) motor pool and maintenance facility. In 1964, the BARC was phased out and the LARC was prototyped. In 1982, the LARC-60 facility was modified with the construction of a concrete wash rack pad and surface water drainage control structures.

And now they are gone. The 309th Transportation (LARC LX) Company, 11th Transportation Battalion, was inactivated on 15 October 2001. It was the last amphibious Company in the U.S. Army. The army now depends entirely on conventional landing craft.

Lighter, Amphibious Re-Supply Cargo, 15-Ton (LARC-XV)

The 15-ton capacity LARC XV was introduced in 1960. The LARC XV is a 45` by 15` aluminium hulled amphibious vehicle with a 600 HP engine.

Lighter, Amphibious Re-Supply Cargo, 5-Ton (LARC-V)

The LARC-5 (Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo) is an Army amphibious vehicle originally used in the 1960's to ferry supplies from ships to shore. Its total possible load is 5 tons (hence the five after LARC). The head of the Transportation Corps, MG Paul Yount, directed the US Army Research Command (USATRECOM) in 1956 to build a boat with the ability to drive on land. The prototype was built in July 1959 with final design produced in 1963.

They LARC V did not handle the way it was expected so, many were given to around 35 reserve companies. The active duty 165th, 305th, 344th, 458th, and 461st Trans Co.s received them. The LARC V is primarily used by the Beach Group in surf-zone salvage, recovery, and command and control roles, and for the transportation of personnel and equipment. The craft are in excess of 35 years old and require extensive maintenance and repair, nevertheless their retention or replacement is considered essential.

The LARC V is a single-screw, four-wheeled, self-propelled, diesel-powered amphibian. It has a cargo capacity of 10,000 pounds and a troop capacity of 20. It has a range of 200 nautical miles on land and 40 nm on water. It can attain speeds up to 22 miles per hour on land and 8.5 knots at sea. 12 LARC V craft are presently embarked aboard MPF ships.

The LARC(V)is an amphibious lighter constructed of aluminum, 35 feet long, 10-ft wide, and 10-feet 2 inches high. The current weight of the craft is approximately 20,000 pounds (without cargo). Power is furnished by an 8 cylinder Cummins V-903 Engine (rated at 295 BHP at 26000 rpm).

The craft is capable of operation in temperate, tropic, and arctic climates, of transversing sand and coral beaches, unimproved roads, off-road terrain and maneuvering through a surf of 10-foot breakers. The engine is located in the stern over the propeller and drives forward to a centrally located transfer case where power is transmitted to all four driving wheels and/or the propeller.

The suspension is rigid and the 18.00 x 12 ply off-road tubeless tires provide the only shock absorption. The propeller operates in hull tunnel, which is fitted with a nozzle to improve efficiency. Baseline speeds for the craft were 9 mph in water and 30 mph on land with full rated load of 5 short tons.

Thirty-five modifications have been identified that will form the nucleus of a SLEP for the craft. This SLEP would improve safety, reduce crew fatigue, improve reliability, reduce maintenance costs, and increase service life. Studies must be conducted to explore future capabilities to conduct surf zone salvage, recovery, command and control, and the transportation of personnel and equipment.

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