CAMP PATRIOT, Kuwait – Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 1648, attached to the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), transported Sailors and Marines assigned to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to the shores of Camp Patriot, Kuwait, for sustainment training exercises, Oct. 18-19.
The evolution lasted two days and involved the ship-to-shore movement of service members along with their equipment and vehicles.
“Our job is to take the Marines from the ship to the beach. The first offload has the BMU (Beach Master Unit), and we stay on the beach while the LCU goes back to the ship,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate Allen Soto. “The LCU can carry a lot of equipment back and forth, but they [Marines] have so much stuff, it takes a couple days to complete.”
To speed up the transfer of equipment and cargo from Harpers Ferry to the LCU, a “stern-gate marriage” process is sometimes used. This is where the boat and ship connect gate-to-gate, creating a platform where vehicles and passengers can enter the LCU without the LCU entering the ship.
LCU Sailors worked from sunrise to sunset making sure the job was completed successfully.
“Yesterday we started at 3 a.m. We transferred roughly 66 pallets today, and we’re getting 267 people from the ship,” said Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Pamela Burns. “We can fill up the main deck and fit about 330 people on an offload.”
LCU 1648 is equipped with living accommodations including berthing for 15 personnel, bathrooms and a galley. Some missions require Sailors to stay overnight aboard the craft, while most nights it returns to its home in Harpers Ferry’s well deck.
Harpers Ferry is part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 13th MEU, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.