Assault Craft Unit ONE (ACU 1)
Assault Craft Unit ONE located at the Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, California is the only assault craft unit in the Pacific Fleet. It's Atlantic Fleet counterpart ACU TWO is located at the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, Virginia.
ACU-1 has 10 officers, 303 sailors, and 2 civilians assigned; is responsible for 18 Landing Craft, Utility (LCU) and 14 Landing Craft, Mechanized (LCM-8) based in San Diego, CA and Sasebo, Japan; and support of 4 Naval Reserve Detachments. Established in 1947, ACU-1's mission is to operate, maintain and provide assault craft as required by the Amphibious Task Force Commander for waterborne ship to shore movement during and after an amphibious assault. It provides crews to assist in the offload of Maritime Prepositioning Force ships to support military or relief operations ashore.
ACU-1 is an element of the Naval Beach Group ONE. The mission of Assault Craft Unit ONE Is to operate, maintain and provide assault craft as required by the Amphibious Task Force Commander for water borne ship to shore movement during and after and amphibious assault. ACU-l works together with it's sister commands, Amphibious Construction Battalion ONE and the Beachmaster Unit ONE to fulfill a variety of missions and tasks. ACU-1's various tasks regularly include the provision of assault craft in support of the landing of a Marine Amphibious Brigade and a Marine Amphibious unit simultaneously over one colored and one numbered beach. ACU-1 also provides assault craft for assault operations within short distances of the assault beaches, and for transportation and installation of the amphibious assault bulk fuel system.
At it's homeport in Coronado California, ACU-1 consists of six departments, Operations, Engineering, Landing Craft Utility, Landing Craft Mechanized, Supply and administration. The Operations department is the smallest department at ACU-1. It consists of the operations officer and two radiomen, While small in size, the functions of the department are of vital importance in coordination of a wide range of assault craft commitments. The Landing Craft Utility and Landing Craft Mechanized departments are the largest departments in the command. They contain 622 of ACU-1 personnel. The departments job is to ensure that the maintenance, training, supply, support an operational commitments are met. The Engineering department at ACU-1 consists of approximately 20 people. It is the job of this Department to maintain the unit's varied vehicles and portable equipment as well as the engineering spaces and machinery on the LCM-8. They also assist the crews of the LCU in their maintenance and repair needs. The Supply department is responsible for all supply and mess management functions within the command. The department carries more than 2500 line items and has it's own food services division which issues food to and prepares menus for the LCU. The Administration department tasks include the maintenance of ACU-1 files, postal service, the Command Career Counselor, Medical care, 3M Division, "I" division, and Legal.
ACU-1 has a forward-deployed LCU detachment homeported in Sasebo, Japan under the command of Amphibious Squadron ELEVEN. Detachment WESTPAC (LCU 1627, 1631, 1634, and 1651) is assigned to USS JUNEAU (LPD 10). A chief petty officer serves as detachment officer-in-charge. Total number of ACU-1 sailors in Japan: 43.
In addition to ACU-1 active duty side it also is the parent command to three complete capable reserve units located in Orange, TX, Long Beach, CA, and Great Lakes, IL. Each of the reserve units maintains its own peacetime organization with an allowance tailored to its functions.
In 1959, the LCM-3 was replaced with the larger 70 ton LCM-8, and ACS-1 received LCU 1613, the first class "U" boat. LCM-8 are manned by a four man crew: Coxswain, Engineer, Fireman and Seaman. The LCM-8 is constructed of steel and powered by two 12 V-71 diesel engines. During the mid-60's, ACU-1 received the first Landing Craft Utility. In September of 1968, LCU 1627 arrived on its own power from Boston Mass, through the Panama Canal up the Pacific coast to San Diego, California. ACU-1 presently operates 18 LCU, of three classes, 1627, 1610 and 1646. The 189 ton LCU is designed for heavy lift and can carry a variety of equipment, tanks, troops, and surf salvage gear. Capacity as follows: 2 M1A1 Abrams Tanks and 45 tons cargo OR 3 M60 Tanks OR 12 HMMV Jeeps OR 6 Five Ton Trucks OR 4 howitzers and 4 Five Ton Trucks OR 350 Battle-Ready Troops OR 24 Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC) OR 9 LAV's.
During World War II, Pacific Fleet Landing Craft Utility (LCU) operated as commissioned Landing Craft Tank (LCT) under local flotilla commanders. The LCT had an Ensign or Lieutenant Junior Grade as Commanding Officer, and either operated independently or were transported aboard larger ships. Upon reaching their operating areas, they would form up with other units for assault landings or other operations in support of the war effort. At the end of the war, most of the several hundred LCU in service were decommissioned and mothballed, and a "Centralized Flotilla Command" was established at the Naval Amphibious Base (NAB), Coronado, California. This command became "LCU Squadron ONE" and was made up of the approximately thirty remaining LCU in the Pacific.
The year 1947 saw the formation of LCU Divisions Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen and a name change to "Assault Craft Squadron ONE" (ACS-1), headquartered in several quonset huts on the north side of NAB. In July, 1947, a new command came into being next door to ACS-1: "Boat Unit ONE", a small craft command specializing in the smaller Landing Craft Mechanized (LCMH3), and Landing Craft Vehicle/Personnel (LCVP).
With the outbreak of hostilities in Korea in July of 1950, both commands began building to full strength. Boat Unit ONE deployed immediately, leaving behind only a small rear echelon to handle administrative matters. meanwhile, ACS-1 began reactivating mothballed LCU and training crews in preparation for impending deployments. To facilitate a more coordinated effort on both sides of the Pacific and to save time, "Assault Craft Squadron THREE" was formed with Divisions 31,32, and 33. It was ACS-3 that would deploy, leaving ACS-1 in Coronado as a support squadron tasked with reactivating LCU and training crews. Within a few months, both commands had more than 36 LCU as well as 120 LCM and LCVP In Korea, manned by over 1500 personnel.
During their time in Korea, both commands distinguished themselves by participating in every amphibious landing, including General MacArthur's landing at Inchon, the evacuation from the Chosen Reservoir, and the evacuations of Wonsan and Hungnam. Two incidents illustrate the kinds of activities which occurred. In one action, Boat Unit ONE was assigned an unusual action in which its LCM assumed the role of gunboats. At this time a river marked the front line between United Nations and Communist forces. The Communists had adopted the tactic of sending small craft down the river to land troops behind UN lines. To put a stop to this tactic, several Boat Unit ONE craft were equipped with machine guns and embarked Army personnel with additional machine guns. Intercepted Communist boats would either be destroyed by the gunboats or forced to land on the UN bank of the river, where they were eagerly engaged by Army forces of the "Greek Contingent" of the UN Command. In another unorthodox operation, several boat crews whose boats had become inoperative joined with Marines and fought side by side with them in the Seoul sector before being rounded up and brought back.
After the evacuation of Inchon in January 1951, Boat Unit ONE moved its entire unit to Camp McGuil, near Yokosuka Japan. It would operate from there for the remainder of hostilities, thus becoming a Navy Unit stationed at an Army Base. With the Hungnam, withdrawal in early 1953, the hard working LCU of ACS-3 steamed unescorted to Pusan Harbor, where they were refitted and remained until after the cease-fire in July. They were then utilized extensively in the POW exchange, to resupply the garrison forces at Inchon, and to assist in training South Korean troops.
As the various units were being phased out of Korea, the "Workhorses of the Pacific", as the Marines called the LCU, were stationed in Yokosuka, not far from the boat unit. In the fall of 1954, LCU and LCM-3 from both commands combined to participate in the "Passage to Freedom" at Haipong, French Indochina. In this operation French Military Forces and Vietnamese refugees were evacuated from Communist North Vietnam to freedom in South Vietnam. As a part of task force 90, the LCU were reported to have moved over 100,000 refugees. Another collaboration took place early in 1955 when Boat Unit ONE and ACS-3, provided services during the armed withdrawal of Chinese Nationalists Troops from the Tachen Islands to Formosa. August-September 1955 saw ACS-3 disestablished with boats and crews absorbed back into ACS-1. Boat Unit ONE was called home and reduced from 850 men to its peacetime complement of 9 Officers and 145 Enlisted. Both commands took part in various operations around the Pacific during the next few years. Boat Unit ONE covered waterborne transportation needs for a 1958 expedition to Danger Island in the South Pacific to record a rare total Solar Eclipse, in conjunction with the International Geophysical Year. They were then utilized extensively in the POW exchange, to resupply the garrison forces at Inchon, and to assist in training South Korean troops.
A year earlier, four LCU from ACS-1 had made a four month goodwill tour to Borneo, Singapore, Pakistan, Ceylon, Bombay and Karachi. December 5, 1958 marks a turning point in ACU ONE history, because on that date CNO reclassified LCU from commissioned status. Previous to their "inservice" status, and prior to the 1955 reorganization, LCU had remained commissioned vessels with an ENS or LTJG as skipper. This directive officially ended that era of LCU history, and the "all enlisted" concept that we now employ became a permanent part of our organizational structure.
In the summer of 1959 Boat Unit ONE received the first LCM-8, and October of that same year brought the arrival of LCU-1613, our first 1610 Class "U-Boat", with three more similar craft to follow. The arrival of eight more 1610's by 1960 marked the beginning of a period of experimentation and development at ACS-1. During the next few years the squadron evaluated various ideas and new developments in Amphibious Warfare. Among the most interesting of these developments were two boats with vertical propulsion systems and the prototype LCA-X1, an amphibious tracked boat which could deliver troops and cargo from ships at sea to supply dumps inland.
The growing conflict in Southeast Asia in 1963 caused a general step up in training operations Navy-wide. ACS-1 participated in three different amphibious exercises, including a special presidential demonstration in June of that year. The demonstration took place on the Silver Strand near NAB, and consisted of a full scale amphibious landing. As President Kennedy looked on, ACDIV-12, in the form of LCU 1613, 1618, 1619 and 1620 brought in the third wave of the landing force, and executed four "flawless" beach landings. Between June and October, the LCU participated in four more big operations, one up north called "Cascade Columbia", two at Camp Pendleton, and another in Hawaii called exercise "Dull Knife".
On 1 October 1963, CNO directed a merger between Boat Unit ONE and Assault Craft Squadron-1 in order to combine and streamline the operation of the two similar commands. Boat Unit ONE was disestablished and all boats and personnel were transferred to the three LCU Divisions. ACS-1 retained it's name, but the divisions changed from LCU Divisions to "Assault Craft Divisions." The squadron Commanding Officer was classified as a Commodore, with each division having its own Commanding Officer and organizational staff. The squadron still retained its WESTPAC Detachment in Yokosuka at that time, so the division rotation cycle (under normal conditions) was twelve months in CONUS and six months in WESTPAC. The unusual aspect of ACDIV Deployment was that the crews were rotated between CONUS and EASTPAC by air; thus all craft remained in either WESTPAC or EASTPAC for indefinite periods. It was ACDIV-13 that took the LCU to Vietnam for the first time in mid 1963.
Due to the unusual requirements for lighterage incident to the buildup of U.S. Forces in Vietnam, it was necessary to transfer half the assault craft in EASTPAC to fill the need. Nine LCU, including 1614, 1621, 1622 and 1623 along with six LCM-8 were transferred to NSA Danang, where they took part in some of the early landings at Chulai and Hue. February 1964 found ACDIV-11 scattered all over WESTPAC with one LCU and two LCM-8 participating in "COWLEX" a cold weather operation off the coast of Korea. The best of the division was preparing for "Back Pack", a full scale amphibious exercise to be conducted in the Philippine and South China seas from 13 February to 16 March. Prior to "Back Pack", LCU-1615 operated independently at the Chinese Naval Base, Tsyoying, Formosa and at times was the only U.S. Naval Vessel present in those troubled waters. LCU-1615 steamed independently from Tsyoying to join the entire division of 9 LCU and 6 LCM-8 in "Back Pack". Only one minor casualty occurred in 548 beachings of LCU/LCM-8 craft during this exercise.
June 1964 brought some firsts to the squadron, when movies were made of the maneuvering capabilities of LCU-1620 with it's cycloid propulsion system. LCU-1620 was also the platform for an operational test of televised beach operations at San Clemente Island. This year also was the first time that LCU and LCM were provided for general visiting at Broadway Pier, a privilege usually reserved for larger vessels. This opportunity arose from the interest and enthusiasm engendered during Armed Forces Day open house by civilian visitors. Another first occurred in November, LCU/LST underway replenishment and refueling were successfully effected by both 1466 and 1610 class LCU at sea off San Diego. This test strongly supported the feasibility of extending the cruising range capabilities of LCU craft. Mid-year 1964 found ACDIV-13 relieved by ACDIV-11, but due to the increased tension in Southeast Asia, the majority of the craft were kept busy operating in South Vietnam. All, of the ACDIV-11 craft with the exception of LCU-1616 spent the majority of their deployment in the Danang-Chulai area. LCU-1616 was deployed to Okinawa in June where it assisted in loading out Marines. For this operation the craft received a well done from Captain Reily, Commander Naval Beach Group.
Operations in Vietnam were of a constant nature. The craft were required to operate twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The crew's outstanding efforts were shown time and again by a minimum of down time and a maximum of service in the most adverse conditions. During approximately six months in the area from Chulai to the DMZ, ACDIV-11 craft participated in the initial landing of May 7 at Chuali; Operations "Starlight" and "Piranha", landing at Red Beach 2, Danang; resupply runs to Hue/Phu Bai; and various day and night armed reconnaissance runs. All of this activity was in addition to the constant offloading and movement of cargo in Danang and Chulai.
The "Tonkin Gulf Incident", with North Vietnamese PT Boats attacking the USS MADDOX and TURNER JOY, set the stage for our total involvement in Vietnam. The years 1965-66 saw a heavy increase in ACS-1 activity between Danang, Yokosuka and San Diego, with "vintage" 501 class LCU coming out of mothballs, crews being trained to man them, more equipment deploying overseas, training operations to Korea, and as always, the heavy cargo movements in Vietnam. Various local runs to San Clemente and the increased Marine activity at Camp Pendleton required the services of ACS-1 a good part of the time. Operations like "Silver Point I, II and III" were designed to teach Marine and Navy crews about landing in Vietnam as well as problems which might be unique to South-east Asia. A silent movie was made in August 1966 during "Silver Point III", showing units of ACDIV-12 and 13 (LCU 1620 and 1614) participating in an amphibious landing.
Two months later, LCU-1613 and the cycloid equipped 1620 underwent a metamorphic change when they were converted from LCU to Fire Support Training vessels in conjunction with COMTRAPAC MDMAF Program. Their mission was to train riverine forces in gunnery practice prior to deployment. Both craft alternated on weekly trips to San Clemente Island, remaining on station from 4 to 7 days. Each craft carried an 81MM mortar, .30 cal, .50 cal, and 20MM cannon in a turret forward, and a turret mounted 40MM cannon atop a deck house aft. The LCM Department "paint lockers" were once the two ammo-stowage buildings on LCU-1613 and 1620. These buildings have been in their present position at ACU-1 since 1968 when the two boats were converted back to landing craft, and they remain today as a link to LCU history.
By 1967, NSA Danang was one of the most important ports in South Vietnam. With its sheltered natural harbor and wide river, it was a perfect place for a supply depot. Thousands of tons of cargo came through its portal each month, and a sizeable portion of this cargo ended up on the deck of an LCU. The LCU that operated from Danang were attached to the "lighterage" department, Naval Support Activity, Danang R.V.N. Though still operated by ACS ONE crews, the boats themselves were on loan to NSA to facilitate a closer administrative and material support system. This made it easier when they required dry docking or repairs.
NAVSUPACT Danang had complete facilities near "Tien-Sha", with three barracks ships housing a total of 1600 men, the AFDL-23 for drydocking, complete shipfitter shops, cranes, engine shops, quaywall for small craft, and a small open "hooch" with picnic tables for beer drinkers. That hooch used to sit on the quaywall near the APL and it always stood out because of a well-executed wall painted with good old "Charlie Brown" displaying an extended appendage. Half a mile or so north of the drydock was Tien-sha ramp where the LCU loaded. Beyond it were two separate causeway piers housing offices and facilities for the harbor patrol and service craft boats. Not to be forgotten was Camp Tien-sha itself, an old remnant of French occupation that NSA had transformed into a modern Naval Base with messing and berthing facilities for more than 4,000 personnel. Located near the foot of Monkey Mountain, Camp Tien-sha was only a short walk from the APL and the lighterage piers where the mike boats and LCU tied up. All dispatching was done from the lighterage office on the pier, and it was from here that the LCU received their various assignments to Cua Viet, Dongha, Tan-My, Phu-Bai, Chu-Lai, and Duc-Pho. LCU-1613 was there of course, and so was 15, 16, 17, 22, and 24.
November 1967 saw the 1622 get broached in a monsoon as it tried to navigate the channel at the mouth of the Cua Viet river. It was subsequently driven sideways over the shoal, ending up hard aground on the beach just south of the river, where it was battered by waves for two days before being refloated and towed to safety. In two weeks it was back at work with the rest of the boats after spending some time in the drydock at Tien-sha. LCU-1624 spent some time there also, after damaging a flanking rudder, and LCU-1619 punched a hole in her bow, which the AFDL-23 quickly repaired. SRF Danang took good care of the LCU until 28 February 1968, when LCU-1500, operating near Cua-Viet, took a direct hit on the port side of the conn, killing the radioman immediately and injuring eight others. EN1 Willie Abram was later recommended for the Bronze Star Modal for his actions in saving at least one life, and for taking over the heavily damaged craft and steering it to safety while still under fire. Due to the heavy damage sustained, the LCU-1500 was stricken from the navy list. But the fate of the LCU-1500 has been raised by former LCU crew members. They inform us that the hit taken to the LCU-1500 on 28 February 1968, was not enough to keep it out of action. The LCU-1500 would return, only to meet complete destruction on 27 February 1969 while backloading ammunition at Bridge Ramp in Danang. According to Military.com and MRFA Vietnam, the craft was hit with mortar fire killing all 12 crew members. The sole survivor, a non-rated sailor was elected to remain behind.
On 1 May 1968, CNO directed that Assault Craft Squadron ONE and its Assault Craft Division Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen be disestablished, and reestablished as "Assault Craft Unit ONE". The overseas division became the ACU-1 "WestPac Detachment" Headquarters at Subic Bay in the Philippines, and the Squadron Commodore became the Commanding Officer, at that time CDR William G. Sandberg. Under CDR Sandberg's direction ACU-1 again went into a period of testing and evaluating with the arrival of the LCA-X2 on 16 September 1968. The original LCA-X1 from the early 60's had proved to be unsuccessful with its gas turbine engine and screw driven propulsion, so it had been returned to the manufacturer for redesign of the engineering propulsion systems. me new redesigned LCA-X2 that arrived in September had water jet propulsion and two 750 horse power 12-V-71 Detroit Diesels with Allison transmissions. m is proved to be the perfect combination to make the LCA a very successful proto-type, capable of out-performing any landing craft in operation at that time.
Another event occurred ten days after the arrival of the LCA, with the arrival of the first new construction LCU since 1961. LCU-1627 steamed under its own power non-stop from Boston Massachusetts through the Panama Canal, up the Pacific coast to San Diego, and pulled into the pier on 26 September 1968. It was officially delivered to ACU-1 by Captain Robert Hemstead representing "General Ship and Engine Works". LCU-1627 would be the first of the 1627 class LCU to arrive, with the rest of the boats up to 1635 arriving at the rate of about one per month thereafter. 1968 also saw the deployment for the first time of the new aluminum LCM-8, which had arrived in August. LCM-8 numbers 622 and 625 departed on 22 November 1968 for Vietnam, embarked in USS FORT MARION (LSD-22), where they would prove very successful in all phases of operation.
The next few years, up to the present time, would see alot of changes at the unit. The one and only aluminum LCU-1637, would come and go, deemed unsuccessful because of it's light weight. The 1646 class boats appeared in 1971. The LCA program was dropped in favor of the hovercraft, with the LCA ending up at Camp Pendleton in an open parking lot now called the LVT Museum. LCU 1621, 1623 and 1628 were converted to the ASDV-1, 2 and 3. Upon withdrawal from Vietnam, many cut backs took place with the disestablishment of our WESTPAC Detachment and the mothballing of LCU 1616, 1617, 1619, 1624 and 1632. LCU 1614 and 1618 were transferred to the Seabee's, who converted them into salvage craft with booms and winches. LCU 1615 and 1622 were reclassified YFU (Yard Freight Utility) 99 and 98 and transferred to the Weapons test facility Port Hueneme, where 1622 would eventually be stripped and sold. 1620, with its cycloidal propulsion, was transferred to Point Hueneme in 1970, reclassified as YFU-92, and sold two years later. LCU 1618 has been transferred to NOSC San Diego and reclassified as IX 508.
1975 was a low at the unit, which was reduced to about 250 men. LCU-1665 was shipwrecked and sunk in the Philippines in June 1976, requiring a $325,000 salvage and four month overhaul to restore it to service, whereupon it went on to earn both the Battle and Engineering "E" for 1977. 1977 also brought with it a return to full manpower and the reactivating of the five mothballed LCU. Commencing in early FY 77, NAVSEA implemented and LCM Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), covering FY 77, 78, and 79. This included the conversion of 12 aluminum and 28 steel LCM-8 in the Pacific Fleet, with ACU-1 receiving the 28 steel craft. ACU-1 acted as coordinator for the West Coast SLEP Program for all LCM-8. The conversion included propulsion and control system changes such as new GM12-V-71 main engines, steering nozzles, new engine controls, electro-hydraulic lever steering and a remote magnetic heading system. At the close of FY 77, ACU-1 received 8 of 13 steel (completed) LCM-8. In FY 78 six additional craft were converted and delivered, giving ACU-1 a total of 14 SLEP craft. On February 28, 1980, the remaining fourteen craft were completed providing ACU ONE with a full complement of 28 steel SLEP craft. Currently the LCM-8 SLEP overhaul cycle is established at 4.7 years for each of the 28 craft. These craft are tentatively scheduled at the rate of six per year.
In 1977 the United States Congress mandated a three year humanitarian project commencing 15 May 1977 to restore Enewetak Atoll, a United States nuclear test site during the 1940's and 1950's, to as near it's pre-test condition as possible and to make it environmentally safe for the resettlement by the Enewetak people. United States Army, Navy and Air Force contingents under a Commander Joint Task Groups, along with civilian contractors, and headed by the Defense Nuclear Agency, was assigned to accomplish this task. The Naval Element of this Task Group was largely manned and supported by Assault Craft Unit ONE.
The Naval Element was specifically tasked with providing inter-atoll transportation support during the duration of this three year project. Specific boat transportation tasking included the transportation of radiological contaminated soil and debris from the various islands on which nuclear devices had been tested to the "Cactus" Crater, a large atomic blast site on the island of Runit. There it was mixed with a cement slurry, and buried and at the completion of the project was covered with a cement dome. The Boat Transportation Team also transported uncontaminated debris remaining from previous projects, alone with the current project, to the deep lagoon dump sites for disposal. The Naval Element provided the transportation of the U.S. Army's heavy equipment and vehicles to and from island work sites for work, maintenance and repair. On a daily basis the boat transportation team transported working parties and hot meals to and from the various work sites throughout the atoll. This included the transportation of construction materials, agricultural products, and water for island rehabilitation projects along with the transportation of supplies and materials from the Enewietok Island to the remote base camp located at Lojwa Island. The Boat Transportation Team provided a multitude of miscellaneous inter-island transportation taskings along with providing propulsion for barges and causeway ferry sections that was mandatory for the completion of the Joint Task Force Clean Up Project to complete its tasking by the 15 April 1980 target date. This included the maintenance and repair of the Navy's waterborne craft which were 25 years or older reserve stock.
In order to accomplish the mission described above, the Boat Transportation Team (BTT) was manned with one U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander, an assistant Officer-in-Charge of the U.S. Naval Element, five Chief Petty Officers, and about one hundred Boatswain's Mates, Enginemen, Hull Technicians, and Electrician Mates. This team of professionals manned a total of twenty-five water craft, including three Landing Craft Utility, nine Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM-8), one Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM-6), one personnel boat (J-5), one warping tug, two barges, three causeway sections, and five 19-22 foot Boston Whalers.
Assignments to the Boat Transportation Team were for a six month period with many ACU-1 Officers and Enlisted personnel serving more than one your of this isolated duty. Team members were required by the OPLAN to work at least ten hours per day for a six day work week, but in most instances exceeded this minimum requirement in order to keep all the craft in an "up and operating" condition and enable the Boat Transportation Team to meet all operational commitments.
Through hard work, dedication to duty, and many long arduous hours, the Joint Task Group of Army, Navy, and Air Force personnel completed this Project on 28 February 1980, six weeks ahead of schedule saving the U.S. Government a considerable sum of money and man hours. Upon completion of the operation, Secretary of the Navy presented Assault Craft Unit ONE with the Meritorious Unit Commendation, for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
"For meritorious service in connection with the radiological clean up and restoration of the Enewetak Atoll Marshall Islands from 5 April 1977 to 27 February 1980. Identified as the Navy Element under the auspices of Commander Joint Task Group of the Defense Nuclear Agency, personnel of Assault Craft Unit ONE successfully completed the demanding task of operating an extensive fleet of landing craft and boats for inter-island water transportation which provided timely and reliable logistics support for Army, Air Force, and civilian contractors. This three year endeavor was arduous, isolated duty in a tropical zone for over 2,207 Navy personnel. Not with standing the poor living conditions, including berthing in dilapidated wooden huts, all hands worked long hours in order to overcome the hazards of coral infested waters, unexpected tropical storms, hull damage, and engine breakdown or replacement. To work 24 to 36 hours without relief was a common occurrence on the Atoll and was a tribute to the perseverance of command personnel. During the project, the Navy Element hauled over 6,000 cubic yards of radiological contaminated debris and over 215,000 cubic yards of debris to selected disposal sites. By their unerring professionalism, resourcefulness, and steadfast devotion to duty, the officers and enlisted personnel of Assault Craft Unit ONE reflected credit upon themselves and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
There were two particularly interesting amphibious operations in 1979. PHIBLEX/LANDEX 1-79 occurred during June 1979. ACU-1 provided landing craft to ships of Amphibious Squadron FIVE for exercises conducted in the Southern California operational areas. A number of landing craft, including LCU and LCM-8, were utilized for the landing force during the ship to shore movement. At the conclusion of the exercise, the craft were used for the backloading of troops and equipment. These ACU-1 craft contributed to the success of PHIBLEX/MALLEX 1-79. Another exercise for which ACU-1 was called upon to provide landing craft was Kernel Potlach II, a joint U.S./Canadian Amphibious Exercise conducted in September and October 1979. The amphibious assault was conducted at Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. On 30 April 1980 ACU-1 conducted operation "Celebes" which was a sortie of all operational craft at the Unit for a Z-2-A Beaching Exercise. PHIBREFTRAGRU Reps served as PCS and controlled the ship-to-shore movements from the NAB Surf Tower. The two adjacent beaches were assigned for beachings and retraction with a Beach Party Team assigned for each beach. This exercise was comprised of 15 LCU and 18 LCM-8. This was the largest Unit exercise conducted by this Unit since the end of the Vietnam War.
A significant milestone was the implementation of the "One Navy" concept occurred on 12 January 1981, when two ACU-1 aluminum LCM-8 were loaded on a flatbed truck and transported to Great Lakes, Illinois for the use of NR ACU-1 LCM-6 DET. 1613 one of the three ACU-1 affiliated reserve detachments. These craft were in excess and transferred to the reserve program to support training for mobilization in the event of a national emergency. Two other such craft were scheduled to be shipped in February for reserve units in Orange, Texas and Buffalo, New York.
On 2 August 1990, Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait. ACU-1 was one of the first Navy units to respond. Ten LCM-8 crews were immediately mobilized and flown to Al Jabail, Saudi Arabia, to begin offload of the first Maritime Prepositioning Squadron ships (MPS). Ten other LCM-8 crews flew out to other MPS ships that were rapidly making preparations to transit to Saudi Arabia. LCU 1617 and 1646, embarked in USS OGDEN (LPD 5), were already on station in the Arabian Gulf when the Iraqis invaded Kuwait. Desert Shield and Storm would eventually extend USS OGDEN and the 2 LCU to a ten month deployment, the longest LCU deployment during the conflict. A detachment of ACU ONE Sailors assisted the Saudi Arabian Navy in training its modified 1646 class LCU crews. Technicians assisted the Saudis in creating a PMS tracking system, navigation, and amphibious assault tactics. Meanwhile, the command stepped up preparations for a December 2, 1990 deployment of LCU 1629, 1631, 1632 and 1634; and LCM 576, 653, and 781. While preparations continued, over 100 LCM Sailors were in Saudi Arabia offloading 9 MPS ships. This equipment would support advanced elements of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and the 7th Marine Expeditionary Brigade. Within one month they had offloaded over 20 million pounds of equipment, including LCM-8's, AABFS Hosereels, causeway sections, and warping tugs.
On December 2, 1990, 4 LCU and 3 LCM deployed with the USS TARAWA (LHA 1) Amphibious Ready Group. They arrived in the Arabian Gulf and prepared for a possible amphibious assault on beaches near Kuwait City, which were heavily mined and defended by Iraqi forces. The Amphibious Task Force began patrolling the Kuwaiti coastline in what turned out to be one of the biggest decoy maneuvers of the century. The allied forces managed to make the enemy believe that the Allies would attempt an amphibious assault and placed Iraqi forces along the coastline that otherwise would have been deployed in the desert.
When the ground war started, the Amphibious Task Force commenced an amphibious landing just south of the Saudi-Kuwait border at Ras Al Mishab. The 5th Marine Expeditionary Unit landed, joining the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and advanced to Kuwait City, where they were some of the first allied ground forces to liberate the city.
Throughout Desert Shield and Storm, ACU-1 personnel were at the forefront of operations, fully utilizing the heavy lift capability of the LCU. Whether it was unloading massive amounts of lighterage under the threat of SCUD missile attacks or transiting through mine infested waters to land Marines, ACU ONE Sailors contributed to the overwhelming success of both operations.
On the way home from the Arabian Gulf, the USS TARAWA ARG was tasked to provide humanitarian assistance as part of Operation SEA ANGEL when Bangladesh was hit by a super typhoon. Once there, landing craft were used extensively to move emergency equipment, medical supplies, food, and water ashore. The ARG moved over 5 million pounds of equipment and supplies ashore, most of it by LCU and LCM
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|