The Higgins boats
broke the gridlock on the ship-to-shore movement. It is impossible to
overstate the tactical advantages his craft gave U.S. amphibious commanders
in World War II.
Col. Joseph H. Alexander, USMC
- A FELLOWSHIP OF VALOR
- The Battle History of the
United States Marines
the 1930's Higgins Industries had perfected a workboat, dubbed the 'Eureka'
model, designed to work in the swamps and marshes of south Louisiana.
The shallow-draft boat could operate in only 18 inches of water, running
through vegetation and over logs and debris without fouling its propeller.
It could also run right up on shore and extract itself without damage.
As part of his sales demonstrations, Higgins often had the boats run
up on the Lake Ponchartrain seawall.
The "head log" - a solid block of pine at the bow - was the strongest
part of the boat, enabling it to run at full speed over floating obstacles,
sandbars, and right up on to the beach without damaging the hull.
A deep vee hull forward led to a reverse-curve section amidships and
two flat planning sections aft, flanking a semi-tunnel that protected
the propeller and shaft. Aerated water flowing under the forefoot of
the boat created less friction when the boat was moving and allowed
for faster speeds and maneuverability. Because of the reverse curve,
objects in the water would be pushed away from the boat at a point between
the bow and amidships (including the aerated water - only solid water
reached the propeller). This allowed continuous high-speed running and
cut down on damage to the propeller, as floating objects seldom came
near it. The flat sections aft, on either side of the shaft tunnel,
actually had a catamaran/planing effect which added to the hull speed.
All of these features contributed to the boat's successful adaptation
as a landing craft, and when a bow ramp was added at the request of
the Marine Corps, the LCVP design was complete.
The boat could land a platoon of 36 men with their equipment, or a jeep
and 12 men, extract itself quickly, turn around without broaching in
the surf, and go back out to get more troops and/or supplies. This was
critical - any landing craft that could not extract itself would hinder
the ability of succeeding waves to reach the beachhead. The tough, highly
maneuverable Higgins boats allowed Allied commanders to plan their assaults
on relatively less-defended coastline areas and then support a beachhead
staging area rather than be forced to capture a port city with wharves
and facilities to offload men and material. The 20,000+ Higgins boats
manufactured by Higgins Industries and others licensed to use Higgins
designs landed more Allied troops during the war than all other types
of landing craft combined. Col. Alexander (cited above) was accurate
in calling the LCVP "...a world-shaking innovation, one that would defeat
Germany and Japan as ineluctably as any other technology."
SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE HIGGINS INDUSTRIES 36-FOOT LCVP
Construction Material: Wood (oak, pine and mahogany)
Displacement: 15,000 Pounds (light)
Length: 36-Feet, 3-Inches
Beam: 10-Feet, 10-Inches
Draft: 3-Feet Aft and 2-Feet, 2-Inches Forward
Speed: 12 Knots
Armament: Two .30-Caliber Machine Guns
Crew: Three - Coxswain, Engineer and Crewman
Capacity: 36 Troops with gear and equipment, or
6,000-Pound vehicle, or
8,100-Pounds of Cargo
Power Plant: Gray 225-HP Diesel Engine