LHA-1 Tarawa class Landing Vehicles
Despite the advantages of helicopter assault techniques, there are many situations in which landing craft or amphibious tractors are still useful. Landing craft are particularly valuable in landing heavy vehicles such as tanks, large trucks, and bulldozers. Also, landing craft and helicopters could be used in a combined assault, with the landing craft hitting the beach and the helicopters landing troops behind the beach area.
Below the hangar deck of the LHA is a floodable docking well. The stern of the LHA can be ballasted down and the well area flooded; when the water in the docking well is at the same level as the outside water, the stern closure can be opened and landing craft can pass into or out of the LHA. Once the landing craft are inside the ship, the ballast tanks can be blown dry with compressed air and the landing craft brought to rest securely on the deck of the well for loading or unloading men and equipment.
The LHA docking well can hold LCU-type landing craft. These are 135-foot craft that can carry three large tanks. Alternatively, various combinations of small landing craft can be carried. Ramps to the vehicle garage areas permit trucks to be driven directly into the landing craft in the docking well. Or, amphibious tractors (LVTs) can be driven from the garages out of the stern into the water.
Vehicles and other cargo are stored on various decks in the ship, all arranged to permit rapid and efficient movement of the equipment to the flight deck or docking well for loading into helicopters or landing craft, respectively. Cargo prepackaged on standard-size pallets can be moved by cargo elevators, horizontal conveyors, and an overhead monorail system. The vehicles, as mentioned previously, can be driven between decks and to the flight deck via ramps and loaded or unloaded at dockside through sideports in the LHA. There is more than one-half acre of space for vehicle parking.
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