LCVP – Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel

The LCVP is the World War II landing craft conceived by a Louisiana lumberman, Andrew Higgins. The boat was used extensively by all the Allies, but primarily by the U.S. Forces to quickly put infantry on an enemy shore.

In just over twenty years, between 1918 and 1939, the character of war changed completely from permanent, deep, muddy, rat-infested trenches of two armies facing each other across 200 yards of “No-Man’s-Land” for
months and years at a time to a fast-moving “hit, run, outflank, hit again” strategy where putting an entire army on a shore in back of or to one side of an enemy within a few hours was a vital capability.

The LCVP was the answer to this requirement. In the 1930’s, Andrew Higgins built a boat-works and sold shallow-draft, ply-wood boats to commercial swamp fishermen and oil exploration crews. The U.S. Navy became interested, as they anticipated the need for landing craft even before WWII started. The Navy and Marine Corps needed a boat that could hold a fully armed platoon of infantry, run it up on a beach, drop the bow ramp, and
allow the men to charge ashore four and five abreast. They tested Higgins’ boats, made some design changes, and the LCVP was born.

The LCVP was 36 ft. long, 11 ft. wide drew 3 ft. of water loaded, it could make 12 knots powered by a 225 HP marine diesel engine. She was run by a Navy crew of four and was armed with two.30 cal. machine guns.

More than 20,000 Higgins Boats were made by a number of builders during the war. LCVP’s were essential in the Army and Marine Corp’s drive across the Pacific Ocean, dislodging the Japanese from their string of occupied
islands. Typically, a naval task force would stand odd a Japanese-held island, bombard the enemy emplacements with big naval guns, while infantry would load into Higgins Boats by descending cargo nets hung over the sides of
troop transport ships, and then start off for beach by the score.

Higgins Boats made names like Guadacanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa common house-holds words in America and across the world. They made the African campaign (Operation Torch), the invasions of Sicily and
Italy, and the Normandy landing (Operation Overlord) possible.

General Dwight Eisenhower declared, “Andrew Higgins is the man who won the war for us. If Higgins had not designed and built the LCGP, we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would
have been different.”

By: Laurence Shallenberger, Docent & Trustee

Excerpt taken from The Anchor, May, 2014.

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