The Bow Ramp

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Still Truckin'

I just realized that my old LCU is the only ship or craft that I was ever stationed on that is still in service. Boy does that date me. The old girl must be about 40 years old by now. Another small-boy I was on was an old WW II fleet tug. She was 43 years old when we transferred her to the Mexican Navy. Both of those old girls have one thing in common K.I.S.S. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it stands for "keep it simple, stupid!" Not fast. Lots of redundancy. Everything manual. Fairly cheap.

One of the long standing arguments in the services is over quantity vs. quality. I think that this particular argument is so long-standing because there is no clear winner. Both design philosophies have advantages and disadvantages. In the amphibious assault world, the LCU is the low-end solution. The high-end solution is the LCAC. The LCU is slower, but can carry more cargo. The LCAC can cross the beach and come ashore, but it gulps a lot more fuel. The LCU requires a larger crew. The LCAC requires more support infrastructure.

It doesn't matter which landing craft is better. They are both in use because together they can accomplish more than either one alone. Of course, that is my opinion only. I have been out of the loop for many years and I am not privy to the inner thoughts of the Navy Department. Yet, 25 years after the introduction of the LCAC, the LCU is still out there moving men and equipment ashore. Bravo Zulu.