On July 3, 2019, the crew of the U.S. Army Vessel Molino Del Rey (LCU 2029) performs maintenance and readiness battle drills in the Northern Arabian Gulf.
Army watercraft are a crucial part of sustainment operations for the Army and the 77th Sustainment Brigade.
KUWAIT NAVAL BASE, KUWAIT
Video by Staff Sgt. David Clemenko
77th Sustainment Brigade
An article published by Stars and Stripes in 2013 highlights the role of ships in the US Army:
HENDRICK SIMOES | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 31, 2013
PORT OF SHUAYBAH, Kuwait — There’s a little known fact about the U.S. Army — it has boats. And that’s even surprised those assigned to serve on them.
Soldiers, not sailors, they prefer to be called Army mariners.
The vessels assigned to the Army in the Persian Gulf, such as Landing Craft Utility and Logistical Support Vessels, are designed to move military equipment and personnel within the region.
It is cheaper to move large quantities of equipment and materiel via Army watercraft than via air or ground transportation, according to Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Smith, the watercraft operations noncommissioned officer in charge for the 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
While the U.S. Navy has a dominant presence in the Persian Gulf, Smith maintains the existence of Army watercraft is an instrumental logistics asset in the theater: “The two services have two different roles on the sea, ‘we bring the goods, they bring the guns,’” is the motto, Smith said.
Aboard the USAV Churubusco — a Landing Craft Utility vessel — is a crew of Army reservists.
Their career paths may have been vastly different but they do have something in common: the surprise of family, friends and fellow soldiers — even themselves when they learned the Army has boats.
When Chief Warrant Officer 2 Vernon Slaughter retired from the U.S. Navy Reserves after 27 years because of high year tenure, he learned about Army vessels, and was able to continue his military career through the Blue to Green program, which allows sailors to transfer to the Army. Now Slaughter is the vessel master of the USAV Churubusco.
Growing up in Florida, Pvt. Damian Adams enjoyed being around boats. After joining the U.S. Army, he was surprised to find himself back on the water.
Pvt. Stephen Danek always wanted to be a cook and join the military. Now he’s accomplished both as a U.S. Army reservist. But his recent assignment stunned him – it was on board a boat. He said he had no idea the Army had boats.
And in this article by Tyler Rogoway in The War Zone on November 23, 2016, the role of ships in the US Army sustainment ops was highlighted as well.
When you think of the US Army, large seagoing vessels don’t come to mind.
Maybe they should; the service has its own expansive fleet of boats and ships, and the USAV SSGT Robert T. Kuroda and its sister ship the USAV Major General Robert Smalls are the biggest of them all.
While the Marines have their own specialized high-end armada of Navy ships, sometimes referred to as the “Gator Navy,” to support their amphibious operations, the Army has no such luxury.
But what the Army does have is a far more understated beach landing and logistics naval force that relies on a simpler sea-bound logistics concept.
At the heart of this concept are the Army’s largest class of ships, the Logistic Support Vessels (LSVs) of the General Frank S. Besson class. Eight of these ships are in service with Army, six of which were built between 1987 and 1994. Following the retirement of the Newport class Landing Ship Tank (LST), they are now the largest of their kind within the Pentagon’s inventory and are reminiscent of Russia’s massive amphibious landing ships.
These first six ships are 273 feet long, 60 feet wide, and displace 4,200 tons.
They were designed to convey cargo and vehicles, and can be loaded and unloaded by crane right onto their decks, or by ramps on the stern and on the bow of each vessel.
The bow ramp in particular is designed for direct beach/shoreline access, with ships pulling right into the surf for loading and offloading.