ACU TWO is a unique and dynamic naval unit with almost 300 officers and Sailors operating 16 Utility Landing Craft (LCU) vessels, 4 Mechanized Landing Craft (LCM-8) and 2 Utility Boats (UB). ACU TWO craft have operated in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea , supporting virtually every amphibious exercise or contingency operation that occurred in those waters since 1960.
The unit has its roots in the early development of amphibious warfare. While the need for specialized naval forces was foreseen as early as the 1930s, it was not until World War II that they became reality with the formation of the Amphibious Forces and the Beach Party Battalions. The Beach Party Battalion, the forerunner of the Naval Beach Group of today, was a group of personnel organized to ensure an orderly flow of personnel, material and vehicles across a beach, embracing the missions of today’s Beachmaster Units, Amphibious Construction Battalions and Assault Craft Units. The Beach Party Battalions and Assault Craft Units evolved through trial and error and, by the time the United States and its Allies went on the offensive in World War II, the Beach Party Battalion had become an integral part of every amphibious assault.
After World War II, the Beach Party Battalions were combined and commissioned as Naval Beach Group TWO. The command was further modified in 1949 when Boat Unit TWO and Beachmaster Unit TWO were formed and added to Naval Beach Group TWO.
Boat Unit TWO, the predecessor of ACU TWO, was formed to provide lighterage to transport groups, to assist in the ship-to-shore movement of troops, vehicles and cargo, and to provide boats for tending pontoon causeways. When formed, Boat Unit TWO operated LCM-6 craft, but started shifting to the faster, larger and more capable LCM-8 in 1957. The new LCM-8s could carry a heavier and more varied combat load. BOAT UNIT TWO gained a third landing craft variant in 1959 when it merged with Landing Craft Squadron TWO and its LCUs. In December 1959, Boat Unit TWO officially changed its name to Assault Craft Unit TWO (ACU TWO).
Since 1959, ACU TWO has provided landing craft detachments that have participated in numerous significant operations. ACU TWO elements participated in the Cuban Refugee assistance operations in the Florida Strait in 1980; the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) evacuation from Beirut in 1982 and the subsequent insertion of Multi-National Peacekeeping Forces; the rescue of American students and citizens on the island of Grenada in 1983; the liberation of Kuwait and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1991; the restoration of democracy to Haiti in 1994; and Operation Allied Force in support of peacekeeping and humanitarian support 1999. Most recently, ACU TWO supported amphibious operations during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Landing craft detachments routinely support Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Groups (MARG) and the annual South American UNITAS Exercise.
In addition to supplying landing craft detachments, ACU TWO provides trained personnel to support Maritime Pre-positioning Force (MPF) operations. Relatively new to the ACU TWO mission, the MPF concept was developed in the 1980s in response to the reduction in forces the United States had stationed overseas and the availability of foreign bases. The concept centers around merchant ships pre-loaded with United States Marine Corps equipment which are offloaded at port or at anchor and then married with Marines to provide a combat force anywhere in the world. ACU TWO trains and provides active duty and reserve personnel to operate the LCM-8s used to offload the ships. ACU TWO has participated in training and international MPF exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and the Caribbean Sea.
Finally, ACU TWO plays a significant role in support of the U. S. Navy’s recruiting and Public Affairs programs. The unit has conducted numerous harbor tours of the Little Creek waters for a host of different organizations.
ACU TWO, The Workhorse of the Amphibious Fleet, continues the proud tradition established almost forty years ago as it maintains, trains and sends to sea, combat-ready craft and crews, ready for any task assigned by Amphibious Task Force Commanders.