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Landing Craft Support (Large) LCS(L)

The Landing Craft Support (Large) LCS(L) is a shallow draft steel hull gunboat 158’-0” long with a beam of 23’-3”displacing 387 tons full loaded, 250 tons light load with a draft of 4 to 6 feet. With a fuel capacity of 25,000 gallons, resultant range is 5,500 miles. Construction is all welded steel; hull and superstructure are painted standard navy “Haze Gray”. The navy awarded contracts for 130 of this class of vessel constructed during the years 1944 through 1945. The vessel was designed to accompany landing craft ashore and provide close-in fire support for the troops landing on enemy beaches. Armament consisted of a 3”/50 caliber naval gun, rockets and heavy machine guns. The assigned crew consisted of 65 enlisted men and 6 officers.

LCS(L) - Program

On December 7th, 1941 forces of the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked U.S. Army and Navy facilities in the Hawaiian Islands, triggering America’s entry into WWII. By the summer of 1942, Japanese conquests had expanded through the Pacific Rim as far south as Australia. In response to the Japanese expansion, Allied forces began to push back along two fronts. Beginning in October of 1942, mostly American and Australian troops under General Douglass MacArthur moved through New Guinea westward towards the Philippines. In the Central Pacific, Navy and Marine forces under Admiral Chester Nimitz began the northerly push at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. From Guadalcanal, the navy began an “island hopping” campaign, moving through the Solomon and Marshall Island chains.

By November 1943, with the conclusion of the battle for the island of Tarawa, navy and marine planners realized there was a problem with their tactics. Capital ships off shore bombarded the island beaches with naval gunfire prior to the troops going ashore. The low flat trajectory of these heavy naval guns was not particularly effective on lowlying islands. The rounds had a tendency to skip off the targets similar to how a stone thrown across a pond will skip across the water. In some cases, plunging fire, as from rockets, proved to be more effective against beach installation than direct fire from naval guns. Furthermore, between the times that the bombardment was lifted and time the troops actually hit the beach, the enemy had time to regroup, resulting in heavy causalities for the marines coming ashore. Smaller ships such as the destroyer drew too much water to allow close in fire support. A shallow drafted, heavily armed gunboat was needed to accompany the landing craft all the way to the beach.

Rather than designing a completely new vessel from the keel up, the navy began experimenting with modifying existing Infantry Landing Craft (LCI) to meet the requirements of a gunboat. The LCI could carry 200 troops and could run right up on the beach. It was from experimentations on the LCI with different armament configurations that the LCS evolved.

The hull and engineering plant of the LCS would remain essentially the same as the LCI, but spaces for infantry would be replaced with as many weapon systems as possible. Contracts were awarded for the construction of 130 of the LCS (L) mark 3 Landing Support Craft, to be built in three separate shipyards. The shipyard of George Lawley and Sons of Neponset Massachusetts constructed 47 of the ships. Albina Machinery of Portland Oregon constructed 31 and Commercial Iron Works also of Portland constructed 52 ships. The first keel was laid on April 28 1944; the final ship was launched on March 10 1945. The LCS 102 was built at the Commercial Iron Works, the keel was laid on January 14, 1945; she was launched on February 3, 1945 and commissioned on February 17, 1945.

LCS(L) - Design

Two forward deck hatches open to the Bosun’s Locker and the Forward Magazine. Amidships a single level deckhouse supports the circular Pilothouse, Conning Tower and a small open Signal Deck. At the main deck aft, a booby hatch leads to the Main Engine Room; three deck hatches open to the Ordnance Stores/Ammunition Magazine, the General Stores and the Steering Gear Room respectively. At the fantail, a diesel engine powered winch is mounted to serve the 1,000lb stern anchor.

Much of the available main deck space is occupied by the gun mounts installed with this class of vessel. Gun mounts are numbered from bow to stern; when off the centerline, starboard mounts are odd numbers, and port mounts are even numbers. At the bow, the No.1 mount of this class would vary, being either a single 40mm, a twin 40mm, or a 3”/50 caliber dual purpose mount. No.2 mount is a twin 40mm Bofors water cooled heavy machine gun controlled from a fire control station located above and aft of the mount. No.3 &4 would be a single 20mm Oerlikon air cooled machine gun. No.5&6 would be single 50 caliber machine guns. No.7&8 would be a single 20mm Oerlikon air cooled machine gun. No.9 is a remote controlled twin 40mm Bofors water cooled heavy machine gun. In addition, two rocket launchers were installed on the main deck between the No.1 and No.2 mounts, each launcher had 5 rails and could accommodate sixty 4.5” naval rockets. After the war, the rocket launchers were removed and the 20mm mounts No.3&4 were replaced with 81mm mortars. The single 20mm mounts No.7&8 were replaced with twin 20mm mounts. Steel splinter shields were added to the 40mm mounts and at the 01- deck rails.

Mast and yardarm are of steel construction with tubular bracing and wire backstay. A small gallery is located at the top of the mast for access to the radar, signal and navigation lights. The ships whistle is also mounted on the mast. In the Pilothouse, the original mechanical engine order telegraph to provide communication with the Engine Room.

Within the deckhouse, at the main deck level is located the Galley, Radio Room, Crews Head, 40mm Magazine, Officers Head and Passageway. From the Passageway, three inclined access ladders extend down to the 2nd deck level, one vertical ladder extends up to the Pilothouse. Forward, compartments at the 2nd deck accessed from the Deckhouse Passageway include the Forward Enlisted Berthing with 24 bunks, the Petty Officers Berthing with 9 bunks, Officers Staterooms with 8 beds, and Wardroom. Amidships compartments include Enlisted Berthing with 32 bunks, the Crews Mess and First Aid Station. Aft of the amid ship compartments at the 2nd deck is located Dry Stores, Walk-in Freezers and the Generator Room.

The enlisted men slept three and four deep in three compartments on metal-framed bunks of stretched canvas with thin pads for mattresses. Each crewmember had a locker for storage of clothing and personal effects. Officers had four double bunks with standard mattresses in two tiny staterooms. All officers had roommates; even the captain shared his cabin with two or three other officers. All food for the crew including officers was prepared in the Galley, which consisted of a range, 2 steam kettles, a water heater, sink, coffee maker, counter and storage shelving. Although the ships officers were served by a steward, enlisted crewmen had to pick up their food on a tray in the Galley and carry the tray down the ladder to the Crews Mess Deck. In the Crews Mess three tables with bench seats were provided for the crew. Each table could comfortably seat six, although eight could be squeezed in. One of the tables in the corner of the Crews Mess was also designated as a First Aid Station, where the wounded could receive treatment for injuries.

Located in the Radio Room were the ships’ chart table, radar receiver, gyro repeater and several radio receivers and transmitters. A voice tube between the Radio Room and the Pilothouse allowed for coordination of the ships movements while underway.

Officers had their own small Toilet Room or Head, which consisted of a water closet, wash basin and shower. The Crews Head consisted of a shower, urinal, and instead of flush toilets, the men were provided with wooden seats over a metal trough through which seawater flowed. A small clothes washer was installed in the corner of the head. Clothes were dried on makeshift clothes lines strung topside.

In the Engineering spaces, the Generator Room with the original switchboard and GMC 6-71 generators retains almost complete historic integrity. Each generator produced 65 Kilowatts at 450 volts, 3 phase AC power. The switchboard was configured to allow for either one or both generators to operate simultaneously. Step down transformers reduced the primary 450-volt power to 115 volts for lighting and utility purposes. The propulsion and auxiliary machinery was located in the Main Engine Room. The auxiliary machinery consisted of two fire pumps, two generator raw water pumps, fresh water, condensate and distillate pumps, a heating boiler and fresh water evaporator.

The original propulsion system consisted of a four GMC 6-71 diesel engines, separately clutched to form a “quad” pack for each propeller shaft. Any combination of engines from one to four could be used to provide power to the propeller shaft, which turned a variable pitch propeller. This configuration allowed one or more engines to be shut down for maintenance while still operating underway, while the variable pitch propeller eliminated the need for a reversing gear. The 71 series engines allowed for common spare parts between the generators, the propulsion engines and even the winch engine. A control station for each “quad” was located at the aft engine room bulkhead between the two shafts. Orders from the wheelhouse were received via an “Engine Order Telegraph” mechanically linked to the engine room control station.

LCS(L) - In Action

As the ships of this new class became available, they began to fulfill their combat role in the battles for the Philippines, Borneo, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. It was during these campaigns that the LCS’s served with distinction, earning the nickname “Mighty Midgets” due to their small size but large firepower. Typical LCS tactics for a troop landing involved laying a rocket barrage commencing about 1,400 yards off shore until the ships were only 400 yards from shore. This insured that the area from the shoreline to about 1,000 yards inland was covered by rocket fire. At a range of 400 yards the LCS slowed and the troop carriers passed by them. Some of the vessels would then lay bow-in to support the troops if needed, while others turned broadside to the beach and raked it with fire from their 40mm machine guns. Other duties included picket station, laying smoke screens, suicide boat and swimmer patrol, fire fighting and mine destruction.

At the battle for Okinawa the navy established defensive ring around the island about 50 miles out to prevent Kamikaze planes from attacking the invasion fleet anchored off Hagushi. Although not designed for that purpose, the LCS proved well suited to this task due to the fact that most of her armament consisted of 20mm and 40mm machine guns, which were the navy’s primary anti-aircraft weapons.

During combat operations, 26 of the LCS were either sunk or damaged, 13 of which occurred during the battle for Okinawa. It is ironic that during that battle the beaches were only lightly contested, minimizing the purpose for which the LCS was designed. The enemy had chosen to remain in a vast network of caves allowing the allied troops almost unopposed landings on the shore. It was the Kamikaze attacks launched from Formosa and Kyushu that caused most of the naval causalities.

During the battle for Okinawa, LT Richard M. McCool, skipper of the LCS 122 was wounded and subsequently received the Medal of Honor for his heroic action on the evening of June 11, 1945. In other actions, three LCS’s received the Presidential Unit Citation, the highest award given by the President of the United States while six ships of the LCS class were awarded the Navy Unit Citation, the highest award given by the Secretary of the Navy.

LCS-102 “Yankee Dollar”

LCS-102 is a United States Navy Landing Craft, Support, completed in 1945. The ship is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A for its participation in the amphibious invasion of Okinawa and peacekeeping operations following the surrender of Japan, and under Criterion C as the sole intact representative of her class of vessel, at the local level of significance, as a significant example of naval engineering. LCS-102, along with the sister ships of her class, participated in the greatest conflict of the 20th century, World War II. Although these smaller ships are seldom mentioned in accounts of that war, they, along with the men that served on them, played an important part in the closing battles of that conflict. LCS-102 participated in the last major battle of the war, at Okinawa. After the war ended she was assigned to mine destruction along the China coast and rivers. The period of significance is 1945-1946, the period that the ship was in US Navy service.

It was during the war that the LCS-102 was given the nickname “Yankee Dollar” by her crew. The name was derived from the lyrics of a popular song of the time, “Rum and Coca Cola” by the Andrew sisters. A replica of the original “Yankee Dollar” logo has been painted on the forward fire control station as a part of the present on-going restoration work.

After the conclusion of the war, the 102 was assigned to the occupation force and was one of the first U.S. ships to enter Nagasaki after the war. Her mission was to insure that the harbor was clear of mines prior to the arrival of troop and cargo ships. She entered Nagasaki only a few months after the second atomic bomb, “Fat Man,” was dropped. The city was turned into a rubble pile and earth on the hills outside the town looked burned. By that time, roads had been cleared through the rubble and the marines took some of the crew on a tour of the city. While in Nagasaki a typhoon with winds of 100 miles per hour struck the city, the 102 remained in the harbor and rode out the storm without any problems.

LCS-102 returned to the United States in September 1946 and was decommissioned. In April 1953 she was transferred to the Japanese Navy and renamed “Himawari” then returned to U.S in April 1966. Subsequently she was transferred to the Royal Thai Navy in June 1966 and renamed “Nakha”. Decommissioned by the RTN, title was transferred to an American Veterans Association, the National Association of LCS (L) 1-130. She was returned to the U.S in September 2007 to be used as a mobile museum docked at Mare Island, Vallejo, California.

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Page last modified: 03-10-2019 18:27:46 ZULU