INDIAN OCEAN (NNS) - - Landing Craft Utilities (LCUs) have a history of providing an effective means of transport for the Marines and their amphibious units. Onboard the amphibious docking ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) one LCU is ensuring the job gets done during exercise Talisman Sabre 2015.
Boatswain’s Mate Chief Gerren Alexander from Maysville, Kentucky, Boatmaster of Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 1666, assigned to Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, says the primary mission of LCU 1666 is to provide support to the forward deployed Navy for ship-to-shore movement of personnel, cargo and vehicles.
During Talisman Sabre LCU 1666 has transported Humvees, Tractors, Cranes, Trucks and Marines to the shores of Australia for beach exercises and will be helping to pick them up once the ship arrives in Darwin.
“Our main objective out here is to support the mission of the Marines,” said Alexander. “That’s going to be our focus this year, getting them where they need to be, that way they can execute their plans, LCU’s are important to the Navy mission because we can go where the ship can’t go, we can get the troops and cargo to the beach, where the ship has its own limits of how far they can go to shore, we can execute that easily by landing this craft on the beach and off loading everything they need for the mission.”
Some of the big advantages to the LCU are that it has the capacity to load and unload slightly more cargo than a Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), and can traverse areas where hazards on the shore line that might prevent the LCAC from entering.
“This is my first tour being an LCU craft master, a lot of people are unaware of the mission of an LCU detachment,” said Alexander. “We’re the guys who aren’t necessarily on the ground but we go on the ground to get the guys where they need to go to take care of whatever threat there is,” said Alexander. “Their mission is highly important, as is our mission, we’re all here to do one job, and because of that the camaraderie comes easily.” Electrician’s Mate 1st Class Coley Blount from Glenwood, New Mexico says the unique thing about the LCU in comparison to other Navy or Marine amphibious units is that you get to make it your home.
“Being on an LCU is unique because you get to live on it, this separates us from many of the other amphibious units out there,” said Coley. “On a big ship you’re usually only required to do what your job entails, on an LCU you’re doing everything, you can be an Electrician’s Mate, an Engineman, helping out with cooking and of course your duty as a Boatswain’s Mate, so everybody learns each other’s job, you have to depend on each other, therefore becoming well rounded and this lets you understand everybody else’s mission… and it really brings everybody together, like a family.”
Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 1666 is embarked on Ashland. The crew departed from Sasebo, Japan, June 3 with Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group and is on patrol in the U.S. 7th fleet area of operations.