Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel (LCVP)
Landing craft, vehicle personnel, LCVP Mark 7 is capable of landing limited quantity of personnel, equipment, and/or cargo on the beach. It is normally carried by LSTs and is best suited as a carrier for floating dumps. A typical load could consist of 1 HMMWV or 36 combat-loaded troops; max load is 8,100 lbs.
The Normandy assault force transferred from large transport into landing craft, vehicle, personnel (LCVPs). Made by the Higgins Boat Industries, Incorporated, these small, wooden-hulled craft (also called Higgins boats) could carry a single mortar squad and their equipment. Once loaded, the craft circled in a rendezvous spot a few miles from shore, waiting for the signal to head in. The shallow-draft boats were made of plywood. The only metal part was the ramp on the front. The boat was built tough to survive repeated groundings in the surf. Its shielded propeller enabled the boat to pull free of the beach and turn around in its own length.
The classic slab-sided, shallow-draft, bow-ramp landing craft of pre-World War II design by Andrew Higgins was clearly superior to the landing craft that had come before. "Andrew Higgins....'Eisenhower said'....is the man who won the war for us." My face must have shown the astonishment I felt at hearing such a strong statement from such a source. Eisenhower went on to explain, 'If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVPs, we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would have been different.'" [Stephen E. Ambrose D-DAY JUNE 6, 1944: THE CLIMACTIC BATTLE OF WORLD WAR II].
The National D-Day Museum, operated in New Orleans, Louisiana by an educational foundation, is the only museum in the United States that exists for the exclusive purpose of interpreting the American experience during the World War II years (1939-1945) on both the battlefront and the home front and, in doing so, covers all of the branches of the Armed Forces and the Merchant Marine. The National D-Day Museum was founded by the preeminent American historian, Stephen E. Ambrose, as a result of a conversation with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1963, when the President and former Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe, credited Andrew Jackson Higgins, the chief executive officer of Higgins Industries in New Orleans, as the "man who won the war for us" because the 12,000 landing craft designed by Higgins Industries made possible all of the amphibious invasions of World War II and carried American soldiers into every theatre of the war.
Characteristics of the LCVP
The LCVP was designed to run through the surf to a beach, lower a ramp, unload men and cargo, back off, or retract, through the breakers and return to the transport or dock from which it started. These requirements decided its characteristics. Some of the qualities that engineers had to consider were:
Speed--the boat had to get into the beach fast under fire.
Lightness--the "VP" had to be carried aboard a transport and launched over the side.
Power--it had to run aground and back free.
Toughness--it had to be able to take a terrific pounding from the surf and from rocky or coral beaches.
Maneuverability--the boat had to handle smartly, respond quickly and exactly to the coxswain's touch.
Range--the LCVP couldn't take "time out" to refuel every hour or two.
Capacity--to earn its keep it was essential that the boat be able to land a good-sized load.
Armament--the safety of the crews and cargo could not be disregarded.
Simplicity--a large number of crews had to be trained--and fast--so the boat had to be easy to handle and care for. Equally important it had to be mass-produced with interchangeable parts.
The LCVP as it now rides the swells is a seaworthy 81/2-ton boat 36 feet long with a draft forward of about 12 inches and 31/2 feet aft. She carries a crew of four (coxswain, engineer, and two deck hands) and will transport 36 men or 8100 pounds of cargo. With load she will travel ten to twelve miles per hour (the speed of the "VP" and "M(3)" is frequently expressed in miles rather than knots). Without cargo this speed can be stepped up to approximately 15 m.p.h. Two 100-gallon fuel tanks provide a range of about 100 miles at normal speed.
Armor plate sheathes the forward portion of the hull and provides protection against small-arms for crew and cargo. In combat, two .30 caliber machine guns in circular steel gun wells are manned by the deck hands during the run to the beach.
A Gray Marine Diesel engine which delivers 225 horsepower drives the LCVP efficiently. Simplified controls enable the coxswain to handle this power-plant with a single lever for forward and reverse gear, and speed. There is a single screw and rudder.
Operated by steel cables, the ramp usually is controlled by the engineer from a winch mounted on the bulkhead to starboard from the engine. The skeg, an extension of the keel, supports the boat when it is beached. The skeg is a vital part of the "VP's" design. It protects the steering mechanism from harm and, since it extends past the screw, serves to keep the screw off the bottom where it might otherwise become fouled in the sand or mud, bent, or otherwise damaged.
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