Why are Army LCUs & LSVs sitting at the dock at Ft Eustis VA and not underway heading to Puerto Rico?
By Michael Carr, US Army Watercraft Master (Ret) – Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas, then Hurricane Irma collided with Puerto Rico and smashed through Florida, followed by Hurricane Maria devastating Caribbean Islands before decapitating Puerto Rico.
Incomprehensible damage from these horrendous storms, including destroyed infrastructure & lack of transportation capabilities, present conditions for which US Army Watercraft were conceived and designed, i.e. providing logistical support in degraded and unimproved ports, and the ability to land on unimproved beaches.
Only the US Army operates Logistical Support (LSV), Land Craft Utility (LCU), and Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) vessels. Within the Army inventory there are eight LSVs, 35 LCUs, and multitude of LCMs. These vessels are stationed throughout the world, with a good number here in United States, in particular Baltimore MD, Ft Belvoir VA, Ft Eustis VA, Morehead City NC, and Tampa FL.
Why have they not been deployed to help in relief efforts in Texas, Florida Keys, and Puerto Rico? LCUs in particular, are an ideal platform for relief support. LCUs, at 174 ft LOA, can work independently for 18 days, with a range of over 10,000 miles. They are capable of beach landings and retractions, while carrying in excess of 350 tons of cargo, which can include rolling and tracked vehicles, standard and non-standard containers, fuel bladders, etc.