LCVP file photo [23291]

LCVP-class Landing Craft

CountryUnited States
Length36 feet
Beam11 feet
Draft3 feet
MachineryGray Marine diesel engine, 225 hp or Hall-Scott gasoline engine, 250 hp
Speed12 knots
Crew4
Armament2x .30 cal. Browning machine guns
Displacement18,000 lb / 8,200 kg (light)
Capacity36 troops or 6,000 lb vehicle or 8,100 lb general cargo

Contributor:

This article refers to the entire LCVP-class; it is not about an individual vessel.

ww2dbase"The Jeep, the Dakota, and the Landing Craft were the three tools that won the war."
           - General Dwight D. Eisenhower

ww2dbaseThe "Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel" (or LCVP) was an instrumental boat design for transitioning troops from the water onto land. General Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke very highly of the LCVP and what it allowed the Allies to do in Europe. The story of the LCVP, however, is inextricably intertwined with the story of the craft's designer, Andrew J. Higgins; so much so that outside of official records, the LCVP was almost universally known as the Higgins Boat.

ww2dbaseAll of the many tactical considerations for getting assault troops ashore are reduced to a requirement for small boats to deliver troops onto an unimproved beach. Before the LCVP, the traditional small boats of the day were not well suited for this task for one reason or another; their draft was too deep keeping them from getting close to the beach, or their draft was too shallow so they were tossed about in the surf, their propellers or rudders damaged when they hit rocks, or exiting the boat required troops to go up and over the side with its own set of dangers. Andrew Higgins heard the list of complaints and smiled because for him the solution was almost obvious.

ww2dbaseBased in New Orleans, Higgins designed the Eureka Boat in 1926, a shallow-draft wooden boat used very successfully by oil drillers and trappers along the Gulf coast and Louisiana bayous. The design recessed the propeller into a half-tunnel on the underside of the hull so the boat could operate in shallow waters where floating debris and submerged mangrove roots would normally damage standard propellers. Later designs also included a "spoonbill bow" that permitted the boats to run up onto riverbanks and then easily back away. The spoonbill bow coupled with the recessed propeller cavity gave the boat's bottom an unusual concave shape forward that transitioned to a convex shape aft. This shape was perhaps the boat's most innovative design feature. These boats could run in shallow water at relatively high speed and turn almost within their own length. Higgins knew all of these characteristics were precisely what was needed in a military landing craft.

ww2dbaseWith only minor modifications, Eureka Boats participated in Marine Corps exercises in early 1939 and received very favorable reviews. These boats went into service as the LCP(L) and saw extensive service in World War II, primarily with British forces. The LCP(L) still had a closed bow so troops still had to jump over the side or off the bow and this also prohibited transporting any equipment larger than what the troops could lift out. In 1941, Higgins borrowed a concept being used by the Japanese since 1937 and installed a steel bow ramp, and thus all of the landing craft's final design elements were brought together.

ww2dbaseHiggins had gotten along well with the Coast Guard but this gave him no advantage with the Navy. He was not part of the Navy's comfortable circle of regular shipyards and ship builders and the Navy was pushing for another landing boat design altogether. Despite these bureaucratic obstacles, the strengths of Higgins' design won out and the boat with a full-width bow ramp went into production as the LCVP.

ww2dbaseThe LCVP was not a large boat, just 36 feet long. Despite their compact size, they could carry an entire 36-man platoon, a jeep with a 12-man squad, or 8,000 pounds of cargo. The boats drew only 3 feet of water aft and 2 feet forward. The boats could run up onto the beach and then easily reverse themselves back into deeper water. On the beach, the steel ramp at the front could be dropped quickly to swiftly unload men and supplies and allow the boat to leave the beach after only a few minutes.

ww2dbaseFor deployment, the Higgins Boats were typically carried aboard Attack Transport Ships (APAs) that also carried the troops and/or equipment to be landed. The landing craft were put into the water and loaded with troops and/or cargo while offshore and out of range of the enemy's shore batteries. The landing craft would then form up with landing craft from other ships into large groups called waves and make their way to the beach together.

ww2dbase23,000 LCVPs were built and the Higgins Boat participated in nearly every significant amphibious landing made by US forces throughout the war. In the European Theater, LCVPs were integral parts of the landing strategies in North Africa, Sicily, Salerno, southern France, and, of course, Normandy. In the Pacific, the boats saw action in the Solomons, at Tarawa, Leyte and Luzon in the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. The LCVP saw service into the 1950s and participated in the United Nations landings at Inchon, South Korea in September 1950.

ww2dbaseThe basic design concept was scaled up into a variety of larger landing craft sizes including the Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM), the Landing Craft Tank (LCT), and others.

ww2dbaseHistorian and retired US Marine Corps Colonel Joseph H. Alexander summed up the value of the Higgins Boat: "It is impossible to overstate the tactical advantages this craft gave U.S. amphibious commanders in World War II."

ww2dbaseThe Supreme Allied Commander in Western Europe, Dwight D. Eisenhower, said of the landing craft: "Andrew Higgins ... is the man who won the war for us. ... 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."

ww2dbaseSources:
Brian Hyatt; World War II Database, Andrew Higgins
Michael Williams; A Continuous Lean, May 30, 2011
Jared Bahr; Higgins: The Forgotten Man
NavSource Naval History
Maritime Archaeological and Historical Society
The National World War II Museum
Hypertext History of the Second World War
Wikipedia

LCVP-class Landing Craft Interactive Map

Photographs

Higgins Boat, date unknownAndrew Higgins standing on the bow ramp of an LCVP prototype observing an exercise with a loaded Eureka Boat (predecessor of the LCP(L)), New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, circa 1941. Note other boats on the wharf.Line Drawing of the LCVP landing craft or Higgins Boat.A tractor pulling an SBD Dauntless dive-bomber from a pier on Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, mid-1942. Note LCVPs.
See all 102 photographs of LCVP-class Landing Craft



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Higgins Boat, date unknown
See all 102 photographs of LCVP-class Landing Craft




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