Landing Craft Utility (LCU) LCU 1610, 1627 and 1646 Class
The LCU-1600 transports wheeled and tracked equipment and general cargo from ship to shore, shore to shore, and in retrograde operations. RORO missions are accomplished using the vessel's bow and stern ramps. It is valuable in LOTS operations and intratheater transport using harbor and IWW routes. The LCU-1600 is not capable of self-deployment over open oceans. It is deployed aboard vessels such as HLPSs, barges, and FLOFLO ships. It can also be loaded on Navy LSTs, LSDs, or commercial bulk carriers.
The LCU's built in the 1970s are 135 feet long and can hold 11 crew members. Although the Navy now has a newer craft, the Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), the LCUs have the backbone for heavier loads. It can carry 180 tons of equipment or 400 combat equipped Marines. Its development and design updated the landing craft used in World War II, made famous by the invasion of Normandy Beach and immortalized in numerous news reels and movies. However, the LCU requires a 9 foot draft beneath it's keel to operate safely, making it less versatile than the LCAC, which flies on top of water or ground. Another difference between the two landing craft is the LCU is home away from home for its crew, because it can operate independent of the amphibious ships on which it embarks. It contains living compartments that include sleeping quarters, a wash room with shower, a clothes washer and dryer, a lounge with a television and a complete galley.
The 189 ton LCU are designed to carry 3 M-60 tanks, as many as 450 combat equipped troops or a variety of other support equipment such as surf cranes, bulldozers, trucks or artilleries. An LCU has a complement of a ten man crew consisting of a Radioman, Engineman, Electricians, Mess Management Specialist, Quartermasters and Boatswainmate, under the command of a Chief or First Class Craftmaster. The Craftmaster is wholly responsible for this craft and crew.
Assault Craft Unit ONE located at the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado CA is the only assault craft unit in the Pacific Fleet. It's Atlantic Fleet counterpart ACU TWO is located at the Naval Amphibious s Base, Little Creek VA. During the mid-60's, ACU-1 received the first Landing Craft Utility. ACU-1 operates 18 LCU, of three classes, 1627, 1610 and 1646. 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-l'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.
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