LHA AMPHIBIOUS MISSION
LHAs could carry a complete, Marine Corps Battalion Landing Team, along with the supplies and equipment needed in an assault, and land them ashore by landing craft, amphibious vehicles and helicopters.
Often, there were several Navy detachments from the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, attached to the general purpose amphibious ship, the LHA.
Assault Craft Unit 2 (ACU-2)
The purpose of this unit was to man the Navy’s assault craft: LCUs and LCM-8s. The mission of ACU-2, through its assault craft, was to shuttle troops, vehicles, miscellaneous gear and cargo to the point of debarkation on a beachhead–a predesignated spot on the beach, in the safest way possible.
The men assigned to ACU-2 had berthing and messing facilities on the assault craft itself–they were not a part of ship’s company. They were a self-contained unit within SAIPAN.
Beachmasters Unit 2 (BMU-2)
Masters of the Beach–the mission of BMU-2 was to clear the beach for an amphibious landing. Responsible for the “matting” detail, this unit ensured that landing craft did not get mired in sand by laying out matting about 5 feet into the water from the beach. There are different types of matting, including fiberglass and corrugated steel (called low-mat). Beachmaster units used forklifts and bulldozers to accomplish their mission.
The Operations Department of an LHA directed both detachments during the landing operations. However, the overall coordination for loading and unloading of troops, cargo and vehicles was directed by the ship’s Executive Officer from Debark Control, assisted by the Marine Combat Cargo Officer (CCO).
Marine Corps Commanders
On the Marine Corps side, the head of the Marine Amphibious Unit was called the Commander, Landing Force. He was in charge of all Marine Corps components. He took over command and directd all Marine Corps evolutions once the Commander Amphibious Task Force (the Navy boss), had moved the amphibious units to the beach. The Navy was responsible for getting them to the beach-then the Commander, Landing Force (Marines) took over command.
The amphibious ship had the capability to launch a battalion of combat Marines from the flooded well deck at her stern. However, to launch landing craft from the well deck required the ship to be at the proper level. This Is accomplished by a process called “ballasting,” in which tanks were filled and emptied of water to add or subtract buoyancy thus raising or lowering the water level in the well deck. The ship could be underway during this process, launching and recovering small craft and helicopters while operating near the coast.
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Works by Dr. Connors
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