Japanese landing craft, New Guinea

Japanese landing craft, New Guinea

Japanese landing craft, New Guinea

American troops inspect a Japanese landing craft on the northern shore of New Guinea

Japan is Deploying its First Marines Since World War II to Counter China

Seventy-five years ago, the sight of 300 Japanese marines storming rolling onto a Queensland beach in hulking tracked amphibious vehicles would have heralded a catastrophic setback to Australia’s national security.

But obviously, the world has changed quite a bit since World War II. The soldiers from Japan’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARB) were not invaders, but participants in the international 2019 Talisman Sabre exercise held biennially on Australian soil.

The scars from World War II, however, explain why post-war Japan—a nation consisting of 6,852 islands—has not had a dedicated amphibious force until 2018.

In the 1930s, the Imperial Japanese Navy began training Special Naval Landing Forces principally at naval bases in Kure, Maizuru, Sasebo and Yokosuka. Initially non-standard in organization, by 1941 there were sixteen battalion-sized SNLF regiments that would spearhead Japanese amphibious assaults in the Philippines, the Netherland East Indies, the American Aleutian Islands of Kiska and Attu, and New Guinea.

Though the SNLF included some paratrooper and tank units, it was primarily a light infantry force, lacking the mechanized landing craft integral to U.S. Marine Corps. The force’s fearsome reputation was furthered in the massacres of surrendered enemies and by its tendency to fight to the last man in defensive actions such as the bloody battle of Tarawa in 1943.

After the war, Japanese leaders perceived amphibious warfare as fundamentally aggressive, and thus inappropriate for Japan’s self-defense forces and pacifistic constitution. When it came to conflicts over distant islands, the JSDF developed the concept of “Maritime Operational Transport”—rushing troops to those islands before the enemy forces arrived.

But tension between Tokyo and Beijing have intensified in the twenty-first century—most prominently over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands (the first name is Japanese, the latter Chinese), tiny specks of land over 200 miles away from both mainland China and major Japanese islands.

Though Sasebo once based naval SNLF units, the new brigade is formed from the Ground Self Defense Force’s Western Army Infantry Regiment, an elite 680-man light infantry battalion formed in 2002.

The ARDB now consist of two 800-man Amphibious Rapid Deployment Regiments, with a third currently being formed to boost the unit to 3,000 personnel. Support battalions include units specialized in artillery (with 120-millimeter RT mortars), reconnaissance (operating small inflatable boats), engineering and logistical support.

But the brigade’s key support unit is a Combat Landing Battalion comprising 58 hulking AAV-P7A1 amphibious armored vehicles that can swim marines from ship to shore at eight miles per hour. Resembling the Jawa Sand Crawler in Star Wars, the 32-ton “amtracs” can carry twenty-one troops each—two or three times more than most modern personnel carriers—and bristle with .50 caliber machine guns and grenade launchers. However, amtracs are thinly armored—U.S. Marines lost many in Iraq—and may struggle to negotiate the coral reefs surrounding most of Japan’s southwestern islands.

Japan is also procuring seventeen MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft for air insertion on remote islands. The Osprey is expensive and its high accident rates have led to large scale protests by Japanese citizens. However, the type’s ability to combine the vertical takeoff and landing ability of a helicopter with the higher potential range and speed of an airplane are vital attributes given the over 600 miles separating the southwestern-most Japanese islands from Kyushu.

The MSDF chips in the third vital logistical element: three Osumi-class Landing Ship, tanks (LSTs) commissioned between 1998–2003. These 14,000-ton vessels be crammed full with up to a thousand troops, or ten large armored vehicles such as Type 16 Maneuver Combat Vehicles. An internal “well deck” allows each LST to launch two of Japan’s six Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCACs) to ferry troops ashore. Japan is working on modifying the Osumis to embark AAV-P7s and MV-22s.

The Japanese Navy also has around a dozen smaller LCMs (Landing Craft Mechanized), and two 540-ton utility landing craft (LCUs). The Ground Self Defense Force has proposed procuring its own landing ships tanks independent of the Maritime Self Defense Force, and has been window shopping for LST designs, though lacks funding.

The newly-minted brigade rapidly became visible in overseas exercise. On October 2018, fifty ARDB soldiers mounted in four amtracs participated in a counter-terrorism exercise in Luzon, in the Philippines. These were the first Japanese armored vehicles to have landed on foreign soil since World War II—at a place where Japanese tanks had first battled U.S. and Filipino forces.

Then 550 ARDB soldiers with AAVs participated in the 2019 Iron Fist exercise at Camp Pendleton, California, followed in June by the amphibious landing in Australia.

But realistically, what’s the operational concept behind the ARDB?

Certainly, Japan shares with Australia, the Philippines and the United States a concern that China may seize key Pacific islands it could use to interdict maritime traffic. But Japan’s constitution forbids its forces from coming to the aid of allies.

Thus, the ARDB’s purpose remains specific: to rapidly recapture Japan’s southwestern islands should they be occupied by Chinese forces. This remains in the United States and Australia’s interests, as the Japanese island belt effectively constrains PLA Navy operations.

Now, a lone 3,000-man brigade, no matter how capable, is not going to tip the balance in a high-intensity conflict. Thus Mina Pollmann argues in The Diplomat that “By the time the islands are taken over by China, Japan has already lost.” She opines Tokyo should instead shift funding to the Maritime and Air Self Defense forces to prevent Chinese forces from reaching any islands in the first place.

However, this overlooks that the amphibious brigade may deter smaller-scale “grey zone” actions possibly mounted by China’s paramilitary naval militias and coast guard. The ability to rapidly and credibly respond to island seizures could fundamentally alter the risk-reward calculus for such actions.

Furthermore, the brigade’s amphibious capabilities should improve the JSDF’s ability to provide disaster relief to isolated coastal and island communities.

Inevitably, some—particularly in China—will perceive Japan’s resurrected amphibious force as a harbinger of aggression. But realistically, Tokyo is simply developing a modest capability to respond to incursions on its many vulnerable islands.

Sébastien Roblin holds a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.

US Army’s new landing craft hits an early milestone

WASHINGTON — Work on the U.S. Army’s next-generation landing craft, the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light), is well underway, the company building the boats announced Tuesday.

The Washington state-based Vigor Works laid the keel for the first boat at its Vancouver, Washington, facility, according to a company release.

Vigor Works was awarded a nearly $1 billion contract in 2017 for the MSV(L). The Army and Vigor Works will develop a full-scale prototype for the boat over the next four years, then move to initial production of four vessels in 2022. The total buy will be 36 MSV(L)s.

The boat was designed in conjunction with BMT.

Army awards billion-dollar contract for 100-foot landing ships

The Army has awarded a nearly $1 billion contract to the Oregon-based shipbuilder Vigor Works to replace its aging Mike Boats with a larger, faster Maneuver Support Vessel (Light).

The MSV(L) replaces the aging Mike Boats. The 100-foot MSV(L) will be able to haul one M1A2 Abrams tank, two Stryker armored vehicles with slat armor or four Joint Light Tactical Cehicles with trailers. It will have a top speed of 18 knots, 15 knots fully loaded and a range of about 350 miles.

The contract is a 10-year, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract. Vigor Works beat out four competitors for the job.

The Mike boats weren’t large enough, nor did they have the range required to haul modern Army equipment over the ranges necessary in a denied combat zone.

Japanese landing craft, New Guinea - History

By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 4, 2015

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — If Leon Cooper and Kokichi Nishimura had run into each other during World War II, the result might have been deadly.

When they met in Tokyo in late July, a warm handshake was followed by war stories and talk of their efforts to retrieve the remains of fallen U.S. and Japanese soldiers from remote Pacific battle sites.

Cooper was a Navy lieutenant in command of a group of landing craft called Higgins boats launched from the USS Harry Lee, a passenger ship that carried Marines to some of the toughest battles of the Pacific, including the invasion of New Guinea.

Nishimura was a lance corporal in the Imperial Japanese Army’s South Seas Detachment and participated in the invasion of Guam before fighting in New Guinea.

“I was very moved by a guy who was my mortal enemy at one time,” Cooper, 95, said after visiting Nishimura, also 95, at a Tokyo hospital. “If he and I had met during the war in New Guinea, one of us would have been killed or at least seriously hurt by the other.”

Cooper was in Japan with Los Angles documentary filmmakers Steve Barber and Matthew Hausie. The trio are visiting the sites of six major battles that Cooper fought in during World War II. They’ve been to Tarawa and the Philippines and plan to visit Guam, Iwo Jima, Kwajelein and the Gilbert Islands.

In New Guinea, Nishimura fought on the Kokoda Trail where the Japanese engaged in a series of deadly skirmishes with Australians in an effort to take Port Moresby. Shot three times, he was the lone survivor in a 56-man platoon that was wiped out in the Battle of Brigade Hill, according to the 2008 book “Kokoda Bone Man” by Australian journalist Charles Happell.

Meanwhile, Cooper was landing Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s forces on New Guinea at Hollandia and Aitape in an effort to cut off supplies for Japanese troops. He hasn’t been back since but plans to go there on his next trip.

He’ll be following in Nishimura’s footsteps. Motivated by stories of Japanese troops who refused to believe that their nation had surrendered and survived in the jungle for decades, he spent eight years searching for the remains of those who went missing in action.

Nishimura retrieved numerous sets of remains earning him the nickname “Bone Man of Kokoda,” Cooper said.

The meeting between the two old warriors was emotional.

“I offered my hand in friendship, respect and admiration for a man who, like me, wanted to do more to have his country understand what these guys had done,” Cooper said.

He got interested in repatriating the remains of lost war dead after a 2007 visit to the site of his first battle — Tarawa. His goal at the time was to get trash cleared from the beach where he landed Marines in 1943, but islanders told him about the graves of unidentified Marines and sailors, he said.

That first trip was chronicled by Barber and Hausie in “Return to Tarawa: The Leon Cooper Story,” a 2009 documentary narrated by actor Ed Harris.

The filmmakers went back in 2008 with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and made “Until they Are Home,” narrated by Kelsey Grammer, about the recovery of two sets of remains from Tarawa.

The search for remains on the island — where hundreds of U.S. troops are believed to be buried — bore fruit last month with the return of 39 sets of remains, including those of Medal of Honor recipient Alexander Bonnyman Jr., to the U.S.

Cooper said it’s now his calling to search for other MIAs in the Pacific.

“More of our guys lie in unmarked graves in the Pacific than in Europe where battles were in areas with urban populations,” he said.

Last year Barber and Hausie took Cooper to the Philippines to search for remains and made a documentary called “Return to the Philippines,” also narrated by Harris.

Cooper said he’s frustrated with what he sees as the Defense Department’s lack of effort to find servicemembers lost overseas and its failure to test the DNA of thousands of U.S. troops buried as unknowns in Manila.

The trio talked to volunteers searching for remains of servicemembers there but, Barber said, they got little help from the U.S. and Philippines governments. There’s an agreement between the two nations to facilitate the search for soldiers lost in the war, but neither side appears to be actively looking for them, he said.

Barber said he’s inspired by Cooper’s efforts.

“Leon is the last U.S. WWII vet in the fight,” he said. “There are a lot of World War II vets still alive, but he’s doing things that no other person his age can do.”

Air Force Maj. Natasha Waggoner, a spokeswoman for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, said in an email Friday that there are over 3,000 graves with unknown servicemembers in the Manila American Cemetery.

In April, Defense Secretary Ash Carter defined thresholds that must be met before disinterment of a grave can happen. These include compiling a list of missing servicemembers who could be among the unknowns and collecting medical and dental records and family DNA samples that may help identify the dead.

“DPAA is actively researching and working on meeting the thresholds that have been outlined so we can disinter these individuals,” Waggoner said.

Stars and Stripes staffer Wyatt Olson contributed to this report.

World War II: The Pacific Islands

By the end of 1942, the Japanese Empire had expanded to its farthest extent. Japanese soldiers were occupying or attacking positions from India to Alaska, as well as islands across the South Pacific. From the end of that year through early 1945, the U.S. Navy, under Admiral Chester Nimitz, adopted a strategy of "island-hopping". Rather than attacking Japan's Imperial Navy in force, the goal was to capture and control strategic islands along a path toward the Japanese home islands, bringing U.S. bombers within range and preparing for a possible invasion. Japanese soldiers fought the island landings fiercely, killing many Allied soldiers and sometimes making desperate, last-ditch suicidal attacks. At sea, Japanese submarine, bomber, and kamikaze attacks took a heavy toll on the U.S. fleet, but Japan was unable to halt the island-by-island advance. By early 1945, leapfrogging U.S. forces had advanced as far as Iwo Jima and Okinawa, within 340 miles of mainland Japan, at a great cost to both sides. On Okinawa alone, during 82 days of fighting, approximately 100,000 Japanese troops and 12,510 Americans were killed, and somewhere between 42,000 and 150,000 Okinawan civilians died as well. At this point, U.S. forces were nearing their position for the next stage of their offensive against the Empire of Japan. (This entry is Part 15 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II)

Four Japanese transports, hit by both U.S. surface vessels and aircraft, beached and burning at Tassafaronga, west of positions on Guadalcanal, on November 16, 1942. They were part of the huge force of auxiliary and combat vessels the enemy attempted to bring down from the north on November 13th and 14th. Only these four reached Guadalcanal. They were completely destroyed by aircraft, artillery and surface vessel guns. #

Following in the cover of a tank, American infantrymen secure an area on Bougainville, Solomon Islands, in March 1944, after Japanese forces infiltrated their lines during the night. #

Torpedoed Japanese destroyer Yamakaze, photographed through periscope of USS Nautilus, 25 June 1942. The Yamakaze sank within five minutes of being struck, there were no survivors. #

American reconnaissance patrol into the dense jungles of New Guinea, on December 18, 1942. Lt. Philip Winson had lost one of his boots while building a raft and he made a make-shift boot out of part of a ground sheet and straps from a pack. #

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Japanese soldiers killed while manning a mortar on the beach are shown partially buried in the sand at Guadalcanal on the Solomon Islands following attack by U.S. Marines in August 1942. #

A helmeted Australian soldier, rifle in hand, looks out over a typical New Guinea landscape in the vicinity of Milne Bay on October 31, 1942, where an earlier Japanese attempt at invasion was defeated by the Australian defenders. #

Japanese bomber planes sweep in very low for an attack on U.S. warships and transporters, on September 25, 1942, at an unknown location in the Pacific Ocean. #

On August 24, 1942, while operating off the coast of the Solomon Islands, the USS Enterprise suffered heavy attacks by Japanese bombers. Several direct hits on the flight deck killed 74 men the photographer of this picture was reportedly among the dead. #

A breeches buoy is put into service to transfer from a U.S. destroyer to a cruiser survivors of a ship, November 14, 1942 which had been sunk in naval action against the Japanese off the Santa Cruz Islands in the South pacific on October 26. The American Navy turned back the Japanese in the battle but lost an aircraft carrier and a destroyer. #

These Japanese prisoners were among those captured by U.S. forces on Guadalcanal Island in the Solomon Islands, shown November 5, 1942. #

Japanese-held Wake Island under attack by U.S. carrier-based planes in November 1943. #

Crouching low, U.S. Marines sprint across a beach on Tarawa Island to take the Japanese airport on December 2, 1943. #

Secondary batteries of an American cruiser formed this pattern of smoke rings as guns from the warship blasted at the Japanese on Makin Island in the Gilberts before U.S. forces invaded the atoll on November 20, 1943. #

Troops of the 165th infantry, New York's former "Fighting 69th" advance on Butaritari Beach, Makin Atoll, which already was blazing from naval bombardment which preceded on November 20, 1943. The American forces seized the Gilbert Island Atoll from the Japanese. #

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Sprawled bodies of American soldiers on the beach of Tarawa atoll testify to the ferocity of the battle for this stretch of sand during the U.S. invasion of the Gilbert Islands, in late November 1943. During the 3-day Battle of Tarawa, some 1,000 U.S. Marines died, and another 687 U.S. Navy sailors lost their lives when the USS Liscome Bay was sunk by a Japanese torpedo. #

U.S. Marines are seen as they advance against Japanese positions during the invasion at Tarawa atoll, Gilbert Islands, in this late November 1943 photo. Of the nearly 5,000 Japanese soldiers and workers on the island, only 146 were captured, the rest were killed. #

Infantrymen of Company "I" await the word to advance in pursuit of retreating Japanese forces on the Vella Lavella Island Front, in the Solomon Islands, on September 13, 1943. #

Two of twelve U.S. A-20 Havoc light bombers on a mission against Kokas, Indonesia in July of 1943. The lower bomber was hit by anti-aircraft fire after dropping its bombs, and plunged into the sea, killing both crew members. #

Small Japanese craft flee from larger vessels during an American aerial attack on Tonolei Harbor, Japanese base on Bougainville Island, in the Central Solomon Islands on October 9, 1943. #

Two U.S. Marines direct flame throwers at Japanese defenses that block the way to Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi on March 4, 1945. On the left is Pvt. Richard Klatt, of North Fond Dulac, Wisconsin, and on the right is PFC Wilfred Voegeli. #

A member of a U.S. Marine patrol discovers this Japanese family hiding in a hillside cave, June 21, 1944, on Saipan. The mother, four children and a dog took shelter in the cave from the fierce fighting in the area during the U.S. invasion of the Mariana Islands. #

Columns of troop-packed LCIs (Landing Craft, Infantry) trail in the wake of a Coast Guard-manned LST (Landing Ship, Tank) en route to the invasion of Cape Sansapor, New Guinea in 1944. #

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Dead Japanese soldiers cover the beach at Tanapag, on Saipan Island, in the Marianas, on July 14, 1944, after their last desperate attack on the U.S. Marines who invaded the Japanese stronghold in the Pacific. An estimated 1,300 Japanese were killed by the Marines in this operation. #

With its gunner visible in the back cockpit, this Japanese dive bomber, smoke streaming from the cowling, is headed for destruction in the water below after being shot down near Truk, Japanese stronghold in the Carolines, by a Navy PB4Y on July 2, 1944. Lieutenant Commander William Janeshek, pilot of the American plane, said the gunner acted as though he was about to bail out and then suddenly sat down and was still in the plane when it hit the water and exploded. #

As a rocket-firing LCI lays down a barrage on the already obscured beach on Peleliu, a wave of Alligators (LVTs, or Landing Vehicle Tracked) churn toward the defenses of the strategic island September 15, 1944. The amphibious tanks with turret-housed cannons went in in after heavy air and sea bombardment. Army and Marine assault units stormed ashore on Peleliu on September 15, and it was announced that organized resistance was almost entirely ended on September 27. #

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U.S. Marines of the first Marine Division stand by the corpses of two of their comrades, who were killed by Japanese soldiers on a beach on Peleliu island, Republic of Palau, in September of 1944. After the end of the invasion, 10,695 of the 11,000 Japanese soldiers stationed on the island had been killed, only some 200 captured. U.S. forces suffered some 9,800 casualties, including 1,794 killed. #

Para-frag bombs fall toward a camouflaged Japanese Mitsubishi Ki-21, "Sally", during an attack by the US Army Fifth Air Force against Old Namlea airport on Buru Island, Dutch East Indies, on October 15, 1944. A few seconds after this picture was taken the aircraft was engulfed in flames. The design of the para-frag bomb enabled low flying bombing attacks to be carried out with higher accuracy. #

Gen. Douglas MacArthur, center, is accompanied by his officers and Sergio Osmena, president of the Philippines in exile, extreme left, as he wades ashore during landing operations at Leyte, Philippines, on October 20, 1944, after U.S. forces recaptured the beach of the Japanese-occupied island. #

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The bodies of Japanese soldiers lie strewn across a hillside after being shot by U.S. soldiers as they attempted a banzai charge over a ridge in Guam, in 1944. #

Smoke billows up from the Kowloon Docks and railroad yards after a surprise bombing attack on Hong Kong harbor by the U.S. Army 14th Air Force October 16, 1944. A Japanese fighter plane (left center) turns in a climb to attack the bombers. Between the Royal Navy yard, left, enemy vessels spout flames, and just outside the boat basin, foreground, another ship has been hit. #

A Japanese torpedo bomber goes down in flames after a direct hit by 5-inch shells from the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, on October 25, 1944. #

Landing barges loaded with U.S. troops bound for the beaches of Leyte island, in October 1944, as American and Japanese fighter planes duel to the death overhead. The men aboard the crafts watch the dramatic battle in the sky as they approach the shore. #

This photo provided by former Kamikaze pilot Toshio Yoshitake, shows Yoshitake, right, and his fellow pilots, from left, Tetsuya Ueno, Koshiro Hayashi, Naoki Okagami and Takao Oi, as they pose together in front of a Zero fighter plane before taking off from the Imperial Army airstrip in Choshi, just east of Tokyo, on November 8, 1944. None of the 17 other pilots and flight instructors who flew with Yoshitake on that day survived. Yoshitake only survived because an American warplane shot him out of the air, he crash-landed and was rescued by Japanese soldiers. #

A Japanese kamikaze pilot in a damaged single-engine bomber, moments before striking the U.S. Aircraft Carrier USS Essex, off the Philippine Islands, on November 25, 1944. #

A closer view of the Japanese kamikaze aircraft, smoking from antiaircraft hits and veering slightly to left moments before slamming into the USS Essex on November 25, 1944. #

Aftermath of the November 25, 1943 kamikaze attack against the USS Essex. Fire-fighters and scattered fragments of the Japanese aircraft cover the flight deck. The plane struck the port edge of the flight deck, landing among planes fueled for takeoff, causing extensive damage, killing 15, and wounding 44. #

The battleship USS Pennsylvania, followed by three cruisers, moves in line into Lingayen Gulf preceding the landing on Luzon, in the Philippines, in January of 1945. #

U.S. Marines going ashore at Iwo Jima, a Japanese Island which was invaded on February 19, 1945. Photo made by a Naval Photographer, who flew over the armada of Navy and coast guard vessels in a Navy search plane. #

A U.S. Marine, killed by Japanese sniper fire, still holds his weapon as he lies in the black volcanic sand of Iwo Jima, on February 19, 1945, during the initial invasion on the island. In the background are the battleships of the U.S. fleet that made up the invasion task force. #

U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment of the Fifth Division raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, on February 23, 1945. The Battle of Iwo Jima was the costliest in Marine Corps history, with almost 7,000 Americans killed in 36 days of fighting. #

A U.S. cruiser fires her main batteries at Japanese positions on the southern tip of Okinawa, Japan in 1945. #

U.S. invasion forces establish a beachhead on Okinawa island, about 350 miles from the Japanese mainland, on April 13. 1945. Pouring out war supplies and military equipment, the landing crafts fill the sea to the horizon, in the distance, battleships of the U.S. fleet. #

An attack on one of the caves connected to a three-tier blockhouse destroys the structure on the edge of Turkey Nob, giving a clear view of the beachhead toward the southwest on Iwo Jima, as U.S. Marines storm the island on April 2, 1945. #

The USS Santa Fe lies alongside the heavily listing USS Franklin to provide assistance after the aircraft carrier had been hit and set afire by a single Japanese dive bomber, during the Okinawa invasion, on March 19, 1945, off the coast of Honshu, Japan. More than 800 aboard were killed, with survivors frantically fighting fires and making enough repairs to save the ship. #

During a Japanese air raid on Yonton Airfield, Okinawa, Japan on April 28, 1945, the corsairs of the "Hell's Belles," Marine Corps Fighter Squadron are silhouetted against the sky by a lacework of anti-aircraft shells. #

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The Aftermath of the Coral Sea and the Lead-up to Midway

Tactically, the battle was a victory for the Japanese. They had sunk the Lexington, Sims, and Neosho and had severely damaged Yorktown while only losing the light carrier Shoho and some smaller craft at Tulagi.

Strategically, however, it was an American victory. Without the aircraft carrier Shokaku able to launch supporting aircraft, and the heavy losses from the air groups of the Zuikaku, the invasion of Port Moresby was called off. Worse still, the damage to the two carriers kept them out of the upcoming Battle of Midway. On the other hand, Yorktown would limp back to Pearl Harbor and be repaired in time to fight in the upcoming battle.

The Allies had stopped the overconfident Japanese for the first time in the war. They didn’t attribute that the American fleet showing up at exactly the right place and time with two aircraft carriers was due to the Americans having broken their naval codes. They considered those to be unbreakable.

Yet, the next month at Midway, the same cryptoanalysis would lead to the Americans once again knowing the Japanese plan in advance. Because of that, Japan would suffer catastrophic losses that would turn the war’s tide.

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships entry for BB-62

Webmasters' Note: The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships covers the history of the New Jersey only until the publication of the book in 1970. We hope to add a separate section of this web page that will cover the period 1982-1991.

From: DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL FIGHTING SHIPS, James L. Mooney, ed., Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy, Washington, DC., 1970

Transcribed and edited by: Larry W. Jewell [email protected]

Class IOWA
Displacement: 45,000
Length: 887'7"
Beam: 108'1"
Draft: 28'11"
Speed: 33+ knots
Complement: 1921
Armament: 9 16", 20 5"

The second NEW JERSEY (BB-62) was launched 7 December 1942 by the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard sponsored by Mrs. Charles Edison, wife of Governor Edison of New Jersey, former Secretary of the Navy and commissioned at Philadelphia 23 May 1943, Captain Carl F. Holden in command.

NEW JERSEY completed fitting out and trained her initial crew in the Western Atlantic and Caribbean. On 7 January 1944 she passed through the Panama Canal war bound for Funafuti, Ellice Islands. She reported there 22 January for duty with the Fifth Fleet, and three days later rendezvoused with Task Group 58.2 for the assault on the Marshall Islands. NEW JERSEY screened the carriers from enemy attack as their aircraft flew strikes against Kwajalein and Eniwetok 29 January - 2 February, softening up the latter for its invasion and supporting the troops who landed 31 January.

NEW JERSEY began her distinguished career as a flagship 4 February in Majuro Lagoon when Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, commanding the Fifth Fleet, broke his flag from her main. Her first action as a flagship was a bold two day surface and air strike by her task force against the supposedly impregnable Japanese fleet base on Truk in the Carolines. This blow was coordinated with the assault on Kwajalein, and effectively interdicted Japanese naval retaliation to the conquest of the Marshalls. On 17 and 18 February the task force accounted for two Japanese light cruisers, four destroyers, three auxiliary cruisers, two submarine tenders, two submarine chasers, an armed trawler, a plane ferry, and 23 other auxiliaries, not including small craft. NEW JERSEY destroyed a trawler and, with other ships, sank destroyer MAIKAZE, as well as firing on an enemy plane which attacked her formation. The task force returned to the Marshalls 19 February.

Between 17 March and 10 April, NEW JERSEY first sailed with Rear Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's flagship LEXINGTON (CV-16) for an air and surface bombardment of Mille, then rejoined Task Group 58.2 for a strike against shipping in the Palaus, and bombarded Woleai. Upon his return to Majuro, Admiral Spruance transferred his flag to INDIANAPOLIS (CA-35).

NEW JERSEY's next war cruise, 13 April - 4 May, began and ended at Majuro. She screened the carrier striking force which gave air support to the invasion of Aitape, Tanahmerah Bay and Humboldt, Bay, New Guinea, 22 April, then bombed shipping and shore installations at Truk 29-30 April. NEW JERSEY and her formation splashed two enemy torpedo bombers at Truk. Her sixteen inch salvos pounded Ponape 1 May, destroying fuel tanks, badly damaging the airfield, and demolishing a headquarters building.

After rehearsing in the Marshalls for the invasion of the Marianas, NEW JERSEY put to sea 6 June in the screening and bombardment group of Admiral Mitscher's Task Force. On the second day of pre invasion air strikes, 12 June, NEW JERSEY downed an enemy torpedo bomber, and during the next two days her heavy guns battered Saipan and Tinian, throwing steel against the beaches the marines would charge 15 June.

The Japanese response to the Marianas operation was an order to its Mobile Fleet it must attack and annihilate the American invasion force. Shadowing American submarines tracked the Japanese fleet into the Philippine Sea as Admiral Spruance joined his task force with Admiral Mitscher's to meet the enemy. NEW JERSEY took station in the protective screen around the carriers on 19 June as American and Japanese pilots dueled in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. That day and the next were to pronounce the doom of Japanese naval aviation in this "Marianas Turkey Shoot," the Japanese lost some 400 planes. This loss of trained pilots and aircraft was equaled in disaster by the sinking of three Japanese carriers by submarines and aircraft, and the damaging of two carriers and a battleship. The anti- aircraft fire of NEW JERSEY and the other screening ships proved virtually impenetrable. Only two American ships were damaged, and those but slightly. In this overwhelming victory but 17 American planes were lost to combat.

NEW JERSEY's final contribution to the conquest of the Marianas was in strikes on Guam and the Palaus from which she sailed for Pearl Harbor, arriving 9 August. Here she broke the flag of Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., 24 August, becoming flagship of the Third Fleet. For the eight months after she sailed from Pearl Harbor 30 August NEW JERSEY was based at Ulithi. In this climactic span of the Pacific War, fast carrier task forces ranged the waters off the Philippines, Okinawa, and Formosa, striking again and again at airfields, shipping, shore bases, invasion beaches. NEW JERSEY offered the essential protection required by these forces, always ready to repel enemy air or surface attack.

In September the targets were in the Visayas and the southern Philippines, then Manila and Cavite, Panay, Negros, Leyte, and Cebu. Early in October raids to destroy enemy air power based on Okinawa and Formosa were begun in preparation for the Leyte landings 20 October.

This invasion brought on the desperate, almost suicidal, last great sortie of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Its plan for the Battle for Leyte Gulf included a feint by a northern force of plane-less heavy attack carriers to draw away the battleships, cruisers and fast carriers with which Admiral Halsey was protecting the landings. This was to allow the Japanese Center Force to enter the gulf through San Bernadino Strait. At the opening of the battle planes from the carriers guarded by NEW JERSEY struck hard at both the Japanese Southern and Center Forces, sinking a battleship 23 October. The next day Halsey shaped his course north after the decoy force had been spotted. Planes from his carriers sank four of the Japanese carriers, as well as a destroyer and a cruiser, while NEW JERSEY steamed south at flank speed to meet the newly developed threat of the Center force. It had been turned back in a stunning defeat when she arrived.

NEW JERSEY rejoined her fast carriers near San Bernadino 27 October for strikes on central and southern Luzon. Two days later, the force was under suicide attack. In a melee of anti- aircraft fire from the ships and combat air patrol, NEW JERSEY shot down a plane whose pilot maneuvered it into INTREPID's (CV- 11) port gun galleries, while machine gun fire from INTREPID wounded three of NEW JERSEY's men. During a similar action 25 November three Japanese planes were splashed by the combined fire of the force, part of one flaming onto HANCOCK's (CV-19) flight deck. INTREPID was again attacked, shot down one would-be suicide, but was crashed by another despite hits scored on the attacker by NEW JERSEY gunners. NEW JERSEY shot down a plane diving on CABOT (CVL-28) and hit another which smashed into Cabot's port bow.

In December, NEW JERSEY sailed with the LEXINGTON task group for air attacks on Luzon 14-16 December then found herself in the furious typhoon which sank three destroyers. Skillful seamanship brought her through undamaged. She returned to Ulithi on Christmas Eve to be met by Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.

NEW JERSEY ranged far and wide from 30 December to 25 January 1945 on her last cruise as Admiral Halsey's flagship. She guarded the carriers in their strikes on Formosa, Okinawa, and Luzon, on the coast of Indo-China, Hong Kong, Swatow and Amoy, and again on Formosa and Okinawa. At Ulithi 27 January Admiral Halsey lowered his flag in NEW JERSEY, but it was replaced two days later by that of Rear Admiral Oscar Badger commanding Battleship Division Seven.

In support of the assault on Iwo Jima, NEW JERSEY screened the ESSEX (CV-9) group in air attacks on the island 19-21 February, and gave the same crucial service for the first major carrier raid on Tokyo 25 February, a raid aimed specifically at aircraft production. During the next two days, Okinawa was attacked from the air by the same striking force.

NEW JERSEY was directly engaged in the conquest of Okinawa from 14 March until 16 April. As the carriers prepared for the invasion with strikes there and on Honshu, NEW JERSEY fought off air raids, used her seaplanes to rescue downed pilots, defended the carriers from suicide planes, shooting down at least three and assisting in the destruction of others. On 24 March she again carried out the vital battleship role of heavy bombardment, preparing the invasion beaches for the assault a week later.

During the final months of the war, NEW JERSEY was overhauled at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, from which she sailed 4 July for San Pedro, Pearl Harbor, and Eniwetok bound for Guam. Here on 14 August she once again became flagship of the Fifth Fleet under Admiral Spruance. Brief stays at Manila and Okinawa preceded her arrival in Tokyo Bay 17 September, where she served as flagship for the successive commanders of Naval Forces in Japanese waters until relieved 28 January 1946 by IOWA (BB-61). NEW JERSEY took aboard nearly a thousand homeward bound troops with whom she arrived at San Francisco 10 February.

After west coast operations and a normal overhaul at Puget Sound, NEW JERSEY's keel once more cut the Atlantic as she came home to Bayonne, NEW JERSEY, for a rousing fourth birthday part 23 May 1947. Present were Governor Alfred E. Driscoll, former Governor Walter E. Edge and other dignitaries.

Between 7 June and 26 August, NEW JERSEY formed part of the first training squadron to cruise Northern European waters since the beginning of World War II. Over two thousand Naval Academy and NROTC midshipmen received sea-going experience under the command of Admiral Richard L. Connoly, Commander Naval Forces Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, who broke his flag in NEW JERSEY at Rosyth, Scotland 23 June. She was the scene of official receptions at Oslo, where King Haakon VII of Norway inspected the crew 2 July, and at Portsmouth, England. The training fleet was westward bound 18 July for exercises in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic.

After serving at New York as flagship for Rear Admiral Heber H. McClean, Commander, Battleship Division One, 12 September - 18 October, NEW JERSEY was inactivated at the New York Naval Shipyard. She was decommissioned at Bayonne 30 June 1948 and assigned to the New York Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet.

NEW JERSEY was recommissioned at Bayonne 21 November 1950, Captain David M. Tyree in command. In the Caribbean she welded her crew into an efficient body which would meet with distinction the demanding requirements of the Korean War. She sailed from Norfolk 16 April 1951 and arrived from Japan off the east coast of Korea 17 May. Vice Admiral Harold M. Martin, commanding the Seventh Fleet. placed his flag in NEW JERSEY for the next six months.

NEW JERSEY's guns opened the first shore bombardment of her Korean carrier at Wonsan 20 May. During her two tours of duty in Korean waters, she was again and again to play the part of sea borne mobile artillery. In direct support to United Nations troops or in preparation for ground actions, in interdicting Communist supply and communication routes, or in destroying supplies and troop positions, NEW JERSEY hurled a weight of steel, fire far beyond the capacity of land artillery, moved rapidly and free from major attack from one target to another, and at the same time could be immediately available to guard aircraft carriers should they require her protection. It was on this first such mission at Wonsan that she received her only combat casualties of the Korean War. One of her men was killed and two severely wounded when she took a hit from a shore battery on her number one turret and received a near miss aft to port.

Between 23 and 27 May and again 30 May, NEW JERSEY pounded targets near Yangyang and Kansong, dispersing troop concentrations, dropping a bridge span, and destroying three large ammunition dumps. Air spotters reported Yangyang abandoned at the end of this action, while railroad facilities and vehicles were smashed at Kansong. On 24 May, she lost one of her helicopters when its crew pushed to the limit of their fuel searching for a downed aviator. They themselves were able to reach friendly territory and were later returned to their ship.

With Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, and Vice Admiral C. Turner Joy, Commander Naval Forces Far East aboard, NEW JERSEY bombarded targets at Wonsan 4 June. At Kansong two days later she fired her main battery at an artillery regiment and truck encampment, with Seventh Fleet aircraft spotting targets and reporting successes. On 28 July off Wonsan the battleship was again taken under fire by shore batteries. Several near misses splashed to port, but NEW JERSEY's precision fire silenced the enemy and destroyed several gun emplacements.

Between 4 and 12 July, NEW JERSEY supported a United Nations push in the Kansong area, firing at enemy buildup and reorganization positions. As the, Republic of Korea's First Division hurled itself on the enemy, shore fire control observers saw NEW JERSEY's salvos hit directly on enemy mortar emplacements, supply and ammunition dumps, and personnel concentrations. NEW JERSEY returned to Wonsan 18 July for an exhibition of perfect firing: five gun emplacements demolished with five direct hits.

NEW JERSEY sailed to the aid of troops of the Republic of Korea once more 17 August, returning to the Kansong area where for four days she provided harassing fire by night, and broke up counterattacks by day, inflicting a heavy toll on enemy troops. She returned to this general area yet again 29 August, when she fired in an amphibious demonstration staged behind enemy lines to ease pressure on the Republic of Korea's troops. The next day she an a three day saturation of the Changjon area, with one of her own helicopters spotting the results: four buildings destroyed, road junctions smashed, railroad marshaling yards afire, tracks cut and uprooted, coal stocks scattered, many buildings and warehouses set blazing.

Aside from a brief break in firing 23 September to take aboard wounded from the Korean frigate APNOK (PF-62), damaged by gunfire, NEW JERSEY was heavily engaged in bombarding the Kansong area, supporting the movement of the U.S. Tenth Corps.. The pattern again was harassing fire by night, destruction of known targets by day. Enemy movement was restricted by the fire of her big guns. A bridge, a dam, several gun emplacements, mortar positions, pillboxes, bunkers, an two ammunition dumps were demolished.

On 1 October, General Omar Bradley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General Matthew B. Ridgeway, Commander in Chief Far East, came on board to confer with Admiral Martin.

Between 1 and 6 October NEW JERSEY was in action daily at Kansong, Hamhung, Hungnam, Tanchon, and Songjin. Enemy bunkers and supply concentrations provided the majority of the targets at Kansong at the others NEW JERSEY fired on railroads, tunnels, bridges, an oil refinery, trains, and shore batteries destroying with five inch fire a gun that straddled her. The Kojo area was her target 16 October as she sailed in company with HMS BELFAST, pilots from HMAS SYDNEY spotting. The operation was well planned and coordinated ad excellent results were obtained.

Another highly satisfactory day was 16 October, when the spotter over the Kansong area reported "beautiful shooting every shot on target - most beautiful shooting I have seen in five years." This five hour bombardment leveled ten artillery positions, and in smashing trenches and bunkers inflicted some 500 casualties.

NEW JERSEY dashed up the North Korean coast raiding transportation facilities from 1 to 6 November. She struck at bridges, road and rail installations at Wonsan, Hungnam, Tanchon, Iowon, Songjin, and Chongjin, and left smoking behind her four bridges destroyed, others badly damaged, two marshaling yards badly torn up, and many feet of track destroyed. With renewed attacks on Kansong and near the Chang-San-Got Peninsula 11 and 13 November, NEW JERSEY completed this tour of duty.

Relieved as flagship by WISCONSIN (BB-64), NEW JERSEY cleared Yokosuka for Hawaii, Long Beach and the Panama Canal, and returned to Norfolk 20 December for a six month overhaul. Between 19 July 1952 and 5 September, she sailed as flagship for Rear Admiral H. R. Thurber, who commanded the NROTC midshipman training cruise to Cherbourg, Lisbon, and the Caribbean. Now NEW JERSEY prepared and trained for her second Korean tour, for which she sailed from Norfolk 5 March 1953.

Shaping her course via the Panama Canal, Long Beach, and Hawaii, NEW JERSEY reached Yokosuka 5 April, and next day relived MISSOURI (BB-63) as flagship of Vice Admiral Joseph H. Clark, Commander Seventh Fleet. Chongjin felt the weight of her shells 12 April, as NEW JERSEY returned to action in seven minutes she scored seven direct hits, blowing away half the main communications building there. At Pusan two days later, NEW JERSEY manned her rails to welcome the President of the Republic of Korea and Madame Rhee, and American Ambassador Ellis O. Briggs.

NEW JERSEY fired on coastal batteries and buildings at Kojo 16 April on railway track and tunnels near Hungnam 18 April and on gun emplacements around Wonsan Harbor 20 April, silencing them in five areas after she had herself take several near misses. Songjin provided targets 23 April. Her NEW JERSEY scored six direct 16 inch hits on a railroad tunnel and knocked out two rail bridges.

NEW JERSEY added her muscle to a major air and surface strike on Wonsan 1 May, as Seventh Fleet planes both attacked the enemy and spotted for the battleship. She knocked out eleven Communist shore guns that day, and four days later destroyed the key observation post on the island of Hodo Pando, commanding the harbor. Two days later Kalmagak at Wonsan was her target.

Her tenth birthday, 23 May, was celebrated at Inchon with President and Madame Rhee, Lieutenant General Maxwell D. Taylor, and other dignitaries on board. Two days later NEW JERSEY was all war once more, returning to the west coast at Chinampo to knock out harbor defense positions.

The battleship was under fire at Wonsan 27-29 May, but her five- inch guns silenced the counter fire, and her 16 inch shells destroyed five gun emplacements and four gun caves. She also hit a target that flamed spectacularly: either a fuel storage area or an ammunition dump.

NEW JERSEY returned to the key task of direct support to troops at Kosong 7 June. On her first mission, she completely destroyed two gun positions, an observation post, and their supporting trenches, then stood by on call for further aid. Then it was back to Wonsan for a day long bombardment 24 June, aimed at guns placed in caves. The results were excellent, with eight direct hits on three caves, one cave demolished, and four others closed. Next day she returned to troop support at Kosong, her assignment until 10 July, aside from necessary withdrawal for replenishment.

At Wonsan 11-12 July, NEW JERSEY fired one of the most concentrated bombardments of her Korean duty. For nine hours the first day, and for seven the second, her guns slammed away on gun positions and bunkers on Hodo Pando and the mainland with telling effect. At least ten enemy guns were destroyed, many damaged, and a number of caves and tunnels sealed. NEW JERSEY smashed radar control positions and bridges at Kojo 13 July, and was once more on the east coast bombline 22-24 July to support South Korean troops near Kosong. These days found her gunners at their most accurate and the devastation wrought was impressive. A large cave, housing an important enemy observation post was closed, the end of a month long United Nations effort. A great many bunkers, artillery areas, observation posts, trenches, tanks and other weapons were destroyed.

At sunrise 25 July NEW JERSEY was off the key port, rail and communications center of Hungnam, pounding coastal guns, bridges, a factor area, and oil storage tanks. She sailed north that afternoon, firing at rail lines and railroad tunnels as she made for Tanchon, where she launched a whaleboat in an attempt to spot a train known to run nightly along the coast. Her big guns were trained on two tunnels between which she hoped to catch the train, but in the darkness she could not see the results of her six-gun salvo.

NEW JERSEY's mission at Wonsan, next day, was her last. Here she destroyed large caliber guns, bunkers, caves and trenches. Two days later, she learned of the truce. Her crew celebrated during a seven day visit at Hong Kong, where she anchored 20 August. Operations around Japan and off Formosa were carried out for the remainder of her tour, which was highlighted by a visit to Pusan. Here President Rhee came aboard 16 September to present the Korean Presidential Unit Citation to the Seventh fleet.

Relieved as flagship at Yokosuka by WISCONSIN 14 October, NEW JERSEY was homeward bound the next day, reaching Norfolk 14 November. During, the next two summers she crossed the Atlantic with midshipmen on board for training, and during the rest of the year sharpened her skills with exercises and training maneuvers along the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean.

NEW JERSEY stood out of Norfolk 7 September 1955 for her first tour of duty with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. Her ports of call included Gibraltar, Valencia, Cannes, Istanbul, Suda Bay and Barcelona. She returned to Norfolk 7 January 1956 for the spring program of training operations. That summer she again carried midshipmen to Northern Europe for training, bringing them home to Annapolis 31 July. NEW JERSEY sailed for Europe once more 27 August as flagship of Vice Admiral Charles Wellborn, Jr., Commander Second Fleet. She called at Lisbon, participated in NATO exercises off Scotland, and paid an official visit to Norway where Crown Prince Olaf was a guest. She returned to Norfolk 15 October, and 14 December arrived at New York Naval Shipyard for inactivation. She was decommissioned and placed in reserve at Bayonne 21 August 1957.

NEW JERSEY's third career began 6 April 1968 when she recommissioned at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Captain J. Edward Snyder in command. Fitted with improved electronics and a helicopter landing pad and with her 40 millimeter battery removed, she was tailored for use as a heavy bombardment ship. Her 16 inch guns, it was expected, would reach targets in Vietnam inaccessible to smaller naval guns and, in foul weather, safe from aerial attack.

NEW JERSEY, now the world's only active battleship, departed Philadelphia 16 May, calling at Norfolk and transiting the Panama Canal before arriving at her new home port of Long Beach, California, 11 June. Further training off Southern California followed. On 24 July NEW JERSEY received 16 inch shells and powder tanks from MOUNT KATMAI (AE-16) by conventional highline transfer and by helicopter lift, the first time heavy battleship ammunition had been transferred by helicopter at sea.

Departing Long Beach 3 September, NEW JERSEY touched at Pearl Harbor and Subic Bay before sailing 25 September for her first tour of gunfire support duty along the Vietnamese coast. Near the 17th Parallel on 30 September, the dreadnought fired her first shots in battle in over sixteen years. Firing against Communist targets in and near the so-called Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), her big guns destroyed two gun positions and two supply areas. She fired against targets north of the DMZ the following day, rescuing the crew of a spotting plane forced down at sea by antiaircraft fire.

The next six months self into a steady pace of bombardment and fire support missions along the Vietnamese coast, broken only by brief visits to Subic Bay and replenishment operations at sea. In her first two months on the gun line, NEW JERSEY directed nearly ten thousand rounds of ammunition at Communist targets over: 3,000 of these shells were 16 inch projectiles.

Her first Vietnam combat tour completed, NEW JERSEY departed Subic Bay 3 April 1969 for Japan. She arrived at Yokosuka for a two-day visit, sailing for the United States 9 April. Her homecoming, however, was to be delayed. On the 15th, while NEW JERSEY was still at sea, North Korean jet fighters shot down an unarmed EC-121 "Constellation" electronic surveillance plane over the Sea of Japan, killing its entire crew. A carrier task force was formed and sent to the Sea of Japan, while NEW JERSEY was ordered to come about and steam toward Japan. On the 22nd she arrived once more at Yokosuka, and immediately put to sea in readiness for what might befall. As the crisis lessened, NEW JERSEY was released to continue her interrupted voyage. She anchored at Long Beach 5 May 1969, her first visit to her home port in eight months. Through the summer months, NEW JERSEY's crew toiled to make her ready for another deployment. Deficiencies discovered on the gun line were remedied, as all hands looked forward to another opportunity to prove the mighty warship's worth in combat. Reasons of economy were to dictate otherwise. On 22 August 1969 the Secretary of Defense released a list of names of ships to be inactivated at the top of the list was NEW JERSEY. Five days later, Captain Snyder was relieved of command by Captain Robert C. Peniston.

Assuming command of a ship already earmarked for the "mothball fleet," Captain Peniston and his crew prepared for their melancholy task. NEW JERSEY got underway on her last voyage 6 September, departing Long Beach for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. She arrived on the 8th, and began pre inactivation overhaul to ready herself for decommissioning. On 17 December 1969 NEW JERSEY's colors were hauled down and she entered the inactive fleet, still echoing the words of her last commanding officer: "Rest well, yet sleep lightly and hear the call, if again sounded, to provide fire power for freedom." NEW JERSEY earned the Navy Unit Commendation for Vietnam service. She has received nine battle stars for World War II four for the Korean conflict and two for Vietnam.

Higgins boats changed the nature of amphibious warfare

Prior to the LCVP, large-scale seaborne invasions were more difficult to mount. They usually required the bombardment and capture of large ports and harbours, which were often heavily fortified and well-defended. But thanks to the availability of small landing craft like the Higgins boat, whole armies could instead be deposited on any stretch of shoreline with relative speed. To meet the threat of an invasion that could fall anywhere, enemy commanders suddenly needed to be spread their forces out across entire coastlines and fortify vast stretches of shore. “The Higgins boats broke the gridlock on the ship-to-shore movement,” said one Marine Corps historian. “It is impossible to overstate the tactical advantages this craft gave U.S. amphibious commanders in World War Two.” Others simply called the Higgins boat “the bridge to the beach.” Even Hitler was grudgingly impressed. After D-Day, he demanded to know how the Allies managed to land so many troops at Normandy in a single day. His generals reported the mammoth number of Higgins’ landing craft that were involved in the operation. “Truly this man is the new Noah,” the Fuhrer reportedly remarked.

Manning the LCP(L)

In US Navy or US Coast Guard service, the craft’s crew comprised two gunners and the coxswain. [11] Though the gunners would normally occupy the two gunner's cockpits, forward, during landing, they had other duties also. One acted as the bowman while the other served as the mechanic. The coswain was in charge of the boat and crew. His position was at the wheel directly behind the gunner's cockpits and only slightly off-set to the port side. From here he steered and operated engine controls.

The craft’s raked bow made beaching comparatively easy, and the craft came off without difficulty when unloaded, though it could snag on rocks or poor ground as any other small boat would. The LCP(L) could be loaded from the boat deck, [12] before launching, ‘unless otherwise specified by the warning plate in the boat’, [13] for its construction as much as its light weight made this speeding up of the launching-load time possible. Other craft, especially those with a ramp like the LCV and LCVP were structurally weak in the bow and could not be loaded before lowering from davits personnel being transported in these types climbed down scramble nets into these boat.

The 3-man crew of a British LCP(L) were led by a Leading Seaman or Royal Marine Corporal coxswain who steered the boat and operated engine controls on the port side of the cockpit. Beside him was the Lewis gunner who also acted as bowman handling any rope-work forward. The third man was a mechanic who might also handle stern ropes. At other times LCP(L)s might be led or towed by coastal forces craft when a raid was within reasonable range of a sally port. A number of these raids were made in 1940 to 1942 by British forces, sometimes using LCP(L)s though more often going ashore by canoe. The first major landing from LCP(L)s in Europe took place in August 1942 when the Canadians with elements of the British army and Royal Marines landed at Dieppe. The fortunes of the LCP(L) flotillas showed here how units and even individual craft could have very different luck in a landing.

Japanese landing craft, New Guinea - History

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Watch the video: WWII Japanese Opposed Landing; New Guinea, 1943-44