News: Landing craft helps out close to home
Story by Lance Cpl. Timothy Lenzo
USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea – Inside the loading bay of the USS Bonhomme Richard the engine’s roars are deafening. Three landing craft air cushions fill the back of the ship, ready to jettison out when needed.
The LCACs play a vital role in training during Exercise Dawn Blitz. The unique nature of the hovercraft makes it a key vehicle during amphibious operations.
Their ability to transport Marines and supplies from ships to shore is an important role during combat and humanitarian efforts.
The Marine Corps, while still deployed in Afghanistan, is focused on humanitarian efforts throughout the world. This amphibious vehicle is another tool the Marines use in those efforts.
“They are great for humanitarian relief,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Margaret Peterson, a craft engineer aboard USS Bonhomme Richard.
Peterson said they recently loaded the LCACs with fire trucks to help battle fires on Catalina Island, Calif., earlier this year.
Master Chief Robert Aycock, a craft master aboard USS Bonhomme Richard has worked with the LCACs for six years and believes their biggest strength is their versatility.
“The hovercraft is accessible to about 80 percent of all beaches in the world,” said Aycock. “If there isn’t a place to go pier side the hovercraft has the ability to land somewhere and drop off supplies.”
The ability to get supplies and Marines into otherwise inaccessible areas has helped people in need throughout the world.
“We’ve done a lot. From the tsunamis over in Bangladesh, to helping out with hurricane efforts,” said Aycock.
The LCAC, with its hovercraft design does not need a conventional dock or even a ramp to land. Find it a small beach and chances are the LCAC can get there.
“You got to remember once the surge comes in it usually knocks out piers, moorings, buoys, all kinds of stuff,” said Aycock. “The hovercraft is still able to get in there, get on the beach and drop off supplies to those who need it.
With a top speed around 50 mph and ability to carry cargo and Marines to otherwise inaccessible areas, the LCAC will continue to play a vital role in the Marine Corps humanitarian relief efforts throughout the world.