The Landing Craft Utility (LCU) is a type of boat used by amphibious forces to transport equipment and troops to the shore. They are capable of transporting tracked or wheeled vehicles and troops from amphibious assault ships to beachheads or piers.
The LCU 2000 class vessels are operated by the United States Army. They transport rolling and tracked vehicles, containers, and outsized and general cargo from ships offshore to shore, as well as to areas that cannot be reached by oceangoing vessels (coastal, harbor, and intercoastal waterways). It can be self-deployed or transported aboard a float-on/float-off vessel. It is classed for full ocean service and one-man engine room operations and is built to U.S. Coast Guard standards. The vessel can sustain a crew of 2 warrant officers and 11 enlisted personnel for up to 18 days, and 10,000 miles. This class is also equipped with an aft anchor to assist in retracting from the beach.
|Length||174 ft (53 m)|
|Beam||42 ft (12.8 m)|
|Beaching draft||at the bow.|
|Deck area||2,500 ft² (232 m²)|
|bridge equipment||Equipped with latest navigation, communications, and electronic equipment including an automatic pilot and steering system.|
The LCU Mk9 was built for use on the LPD's HMS Fearless and Intrepid where they were operated from the dock in the rear of the ships. Each ship carried four LCU's and four davit mounted LCVP's. The Mk9 was to see many changes and upgrades during its service including a move from propeller to jet in many cases. The main training centre for the craft would be Poole in Dorset where the Royal Marines would be trained to handle and crew the Landing Craft. The Mk9 was capable of traveling as an Ocean going vessel and a number would be converted into a version, affectionatly known as the "Black Pig", for use in Norway. The crew had full living quarters aboard with galley and heads. The opinion that the Falklands was only possible because of the two LPD's and their landing craft is well documented. The Mk9, like the LPD's served longer than ever anticipated providing the backbone of Britains amphibious assault capabilities. The Falklands War proved the need for the continued role for sea borne assault.
The LCU Mk10 class vessels are operated by the Royal Marines. They are intended for use onboard the new assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark and can use the Bay class landing ships. These vessels are capable of operating independently for up to 14 days. They are capable of operating world-wide, from Arctic operating areas to tropical operating areas. The Mk10 differs greatly from the Mk9 with the bridge being set to the side allowing for a roll-on roll-off design. This greatly increases efficiency over the old Mk9 as loading of the rear LCU's can take place without the LCU's being launched, the LPD having to dock down to do so, to change over and load up, which was a problem prior to the Falklands landings.