Monday, April 25, 2022


I'm reading a story now that features one and it drives up to the beach and drops the ramp. I still remember back when i had 4 of them. Two of them were ancient vestiges left over from WWII and small and no, we just didn't drop the ramps. Oh yeah, we figured out by turning the damned hydraulic valve upside down it would still recover the ramp but it just wasn't worth it. The LCVP I used to take to the beach in Diego Garcia was followed from LaSalle all the way to the Fleet landing and back by a shark that was bigger than the boat. The sharks inside the reef and atoll were gigantic. I can't believe I actually sailed a Sunfish and Laser out there above them. I think I'm older and wiser but then I thought I would live forever back when I was 23.

The LCM-8 were proper landing craft. They were also mine, or, as the First LT used to shout at me, they were mine when he thought they were broke and 100% his when they worked. Those things had 4 engines, 2 shafts and could just about do anything except fly and I never really put that to the test. Battle speed on an LCM 8 was about 10 knots. That bow ramp really slowed the boats down. One day at lunch I was surprised by our brand new LT who joined us in Diego Garcia. He was the new Weapons Officer and he showed up in the wardroom complaining about the rotten boat he had been boat officering from the beach. It seems it lost an engine and the boat engineer told this to the cox'n who repeated it to the brand new never been on a landing craft officer in charge and he decided that the only safe thing to do was beach it and ordered it up on the beach. This came as something as a surprise to most of us because the boat had actually been in full service for several months on just two working engines. Have I ever mentioned how much I like those boats? Nope, probably not. You could air start them, battery start them and even hydraulically start them! Wooooot!!!!

They were little 6V71 diesels in righthand/left hand turning pairs/shaft. One of them cost a zillion dollars to repair because it was backwards while the other was a more reasonable fixer-upper. We didn't have the time or material to fix the broken engines until we got to Diego Garcia and they were high on my priority list. We used them a lot.

I will never forget that same LT coming into the wardroom and requesting permission to join the mess. He was sunburnt to a fare thee well and madder than Hell. The XO asked him what was bothering him and Brian burst forth. He'd pulled up alongside one of our frigates/destroyers at anchor in Sitrah or Mina Sulman and was there to pull back some classified equipment Middle East Force ships crossdecked and which belonged to my ship in the interim. Brian exclaimed really loudly that they would not let him on their ship because he did not have his ID card. Yes, they're of no use at all when you forward deploy for a year and live on the ship. You never carry your wallet because you don't need it. So, having refused him permission to come out of the sun they left him there exposed on the open deck of an LCM 8 which has no shelter from the sun and slowly gathered our stuff to crossdeckk to us. All that stuff was Top Secret.

I had enormous respect for LCDR Fred G. Cole and Captain Franklin D. Julian. Having heard this they sent a message that night to the offending frigate and asked where was all the TS stuff they were supposed to return to us before leaving the Persian Gulf and heading home. You know the drill, who signed for it and how did they verify him. I had the good fortune to work for some outstanding Executive Officers and Commanding Officers but these were two of the best.

We ragged on the LT unmercifully until he suddenly got ordered home where he had to testify in a Court Martial having to do with the officer who relieved him as Weapons Officer on another ship in Charleston or Florida. It turns out the officer who relieved him cleaned out the small arms lockers on the ship and then attended Georgia Tech trying to get a Master's Degree and funding it by selling the weapons he was hiding under his bed. Brian was a potential suspect which is just laughable. Fortunately the deserter was found with the remaining weapons under his bed.

The NAVY, it takes all kinds.


SCOTTtheBADGER said...

It has always delighted me that the bow tamp on Mike boats, and LCTs were designed by a LTCDR Olson, so they are Olson Ramps. One of two military things that I am aware of, developed by an Olson.

The second one was invented by a US Army combat engineer LT Olson. He had to blow a concrete block wall preventing a black exit being opened on Omaha Beach. He decided to use an Olson Charge, of 100 20 pound Hagerson demolition packs.

Did you see Hector the Hammerhead? He was supposedly a 30 footer.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

For black, read beach.