Landing Craft Utility (LCU)
Landing craft are used by amphibious forces to transport equipment and troops to the shore. They are capable of transporting tracked or wheeled vehicles and troops from amphibious assault ships to beachheads or piers. The use of landing craft in amphibious assault dates from World War II. The craft are carried aboard amphibious assault ships to the objective area. The mission of the LCU is to land/retrieve personnel and equipment (tanks, artillery, equipment, motor vehicles) during amphibious operations. LCU's are scheduled to land personnel and equipment after the initial assault waves of an amphibious operation. The LCU has the capability of sustained sea operations for approximately seven days.
The Craftmaster is the captain or skipper for the LCU crew, which is composed of all enlisted members. The ratings represented on an LCU are boatswain's mate (BM), quartermaster (QM), engineman (EN) and mess management specialist (MS). The crew also includes non-rated firemen and seamen. An LCU has its own galley, living quarters, laundry and showers, making it home for a crew of about 10 sailors.
The LCU, though slower than the LCAC, affords a heavy-lift capability to the force. The replacement for the LCU, tentatively scheduled to begin operation in FY 05, will be a valuable addition to the surface logistics support effort.