The Navy Gave Us A Personal Tour Of Their Massive Hovercraft


Photo: Wikipedia Commons

When the Marines want to haul infantry troops and the gear they’ll need to fight on any shoreline they send the Landing Craft, Air Cushioned (LCAC).A huge hovercraft that skims the surface of the water at nearly 50 mph carrying up to 75 tons of equipment, the LCAC is as fast as it is versatile.

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The Navy says the craft can carry troops, tanks, and whatever else the military wants, to 70 per cent of the world’s coastlines — but it’s not only used in combat.

The hovercraft, like the amphibious assault ships that transport them, are also used in disaster relief and humanitarian aid missions. The LCACs are what brought supplies to the shores of Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, and the assault ships that carried them there became immense floating hospitals.

While the LACC is not new, it was designed in the 1980s, but it remains effective and essential to many Naval maneuvers.

When we visited the USS Wasp last month, the one in the following slides was brought into the ship’s well deck and a member of the crew was good enough to show us around.

This is the part of the USS Wasp called the well deck

That metal gate folds down allowing cargo to be brought aboard while the ship is far from shore

And that's how the LCAC came aboard — unfortunately there was a 'man overboard' drill and we missed its arrival

The cockpit is here in front and manned by a crew of five — the main operator is called a 'craftmaster'

Directly inside is a small hold for the crew to store their gear

And to the left of that is this ladder that leads to the cockpit

It takes a team to man the $20 million craft — the craftmaster controls the LCAC with a yoke while using rudders at his feet

Crewman Jaworsky takes me over to where he rides during missions

He can be in here for hours and says the ride is often rough

But he can get a view from up here

A porthole built into the roof of his cabin

There's another small hold that is being used to store gear, but can accommodate additional troops

The LCAC is powered by four engines that allow it to skim across the water on a cushion of air beneath the skirt around its hull

The power is immense and the engines require massive amounts of fuel — it carries 5,000 gallons and burns through 1,000 gallons of it an hour

But all that power is necessary to carry the up to 180 Marines — or Abrams tanks — or whatever else is piled on board weighing up to 75 tons

At 87 feet long and weighing 182 tons fully loaded the hovercraft is quite a sight in action

There is even a particular landing procedure for when it comes crashing onto shore

And up onto dry land

Following the tour I head back into the well deck

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