Landing Ship, Tank

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A Canadian LST off-loads an M4 Sherman during the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943.
A Canadian LST off-loads an M4 Sherman during the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943.

Landing Ship, Tank (LST) was the military designation for naval vessels created during World War II to support amphibious operations by carrying significant quantities of vehicles, cargo, and landing troops directly onto an unimproved shore.

The majority, a thousand, were laid down in the United States during WWII for use by the Allies. Eighty more were built in the United Kingdom and Canada.

Contents

[edit] Design and Development

The British evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940 demonstrated to the Admiralty that the Allies needed relatively large, ocean-going ships capable of shore-to-shore delivery of tanks and other vehicles in amphibious assaults upon the continent of Europe. As an interim measure, three medium-sized tankers, built to pass over the restrictive bars of Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela, were selected for conversion because of their shallow draft. Bow doors and ramps were added to these ships which became the first tank landing ships, "LST (1)": HMS Misoa Tasajera and Bachquera. They later proved their worth during the invasion of Algeria in 1942, but their bluff bows made for inadequate speed and pointed up the need for an all-new design incorporating a sleeker hull.

At their first meeting at the Atlantic conference, ( Argentia, Canada) in August 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill confirmed the Admiralty's views. In November 1941, a small delegation from the Admiralty arrived in the United States to pool ideas with the United States Navy's Bureau of Ships with regard to development of the required ship. During this meeting, it was decided that the Bureau of Ships would design these vessels. As with the standing agreement these would be built by the US so British shipyards could concentrate on building vessels for the Royal Navy. The specification called for vessels capable of crossing the Atlantic and the original title given to them was "Atlantic Tank Landing Craft" (Atlantic (T.L.C.)). Calling a vessel 300 ft long a "craft" was considered a misnomer and the type was re-christened "Landing Ship, Tank (2)", or "LST (2)".

USS LST-325 (left) and USS LST-388 unloading while stranded at low tide during the Normandy Invasion in June, 1944. Note: propellers, rudders and other underwater details of these LSTs; 40 mm single guns; "Danforth" style kedge anchor at LST-325's stern.
USS LST-325 (left) and USS LST-388 unloading while stranded at low tide during the Normandy Invasion in June, 1944. Note: propellers, rudders and other underwater details of these LSTs; 40 mm single guns; "Danforth" style kedge anchor at LST-325's stern.

Within a few days, John C. Niedermair of the Bureau of Ships sketched out an awkward looking ship that proved to be the basic design for the more than 1,000 "LST (2)" which would be built during World War II. To meet the conflicting requirements of deep draft for ocean travel and shallow draft for beaching, the ship was designed with a large ballast system that could be filled for ocean passage and pumped out for beaching operations. The rough sketch was sent to Britain on 5 November 1941 and accepted immediately. The Admiralty then requested the United States to build 200 "LST (2)" for the Royal Navy under the terms of lend-lease.

The preliminary plans initially called for an LST 280 feet (85 m) in length; but, in January 1942, the Bureau of Ships discarded these drawings in favor of specifications for a ship 290 feet long. Within a month, final working plans were developed which further stretched the overall length to 328 feet (100 m) and called for a 50-foot (15 m) beam and minimum draft of 3.8 feet (1.2 m). This scheme distributed the ship's weight over a greater area enabling her to ride higher in the water when in landing trim. The LST could carry a 2,100-ton (1,900 t) load of tanks and vehicles. The larger dimensions also permitted the designers to increase the width of the bow door opening and ramp from 12 to 14 feet (3.7 to 4.3 m) and thus accommodate most Allied vehicles. Provisions were made for the satisfactory ventilation of the tank space while the tank motors were running, and an elevator was provided to lower vehicles from the main deck to the tank deck for disembarking. By January 1942, the first scale model of the LST had been built and was undergoing tests at the David Taylor Model Basin in Washington, D.C.

In April 1942 a mock-up of the well deck of an LST was constructed at Fort Knox, Kentucky to resolve the problem of ventilation within the LST well deck. The interior of the building was constructed to duplicate all the features found within an actual LST. Being the home to the Armored Force Board, Fort Knox supplied tanks to run on the inside while Naval architects developed a ventilation system capable of evacuating the well deck of harmful gases. Testing was successfully completed in three months. This historic building remains at Fort Knox today.[1]

[edit] Production LST (2)

USS LST-742 on 13 October 1950 at Wolmi-Do Island, Inchon Harbor, loading supplies for the upcoming Wonsan invasion.
USS LST-742 on 13 October 1950 at Wolmi-Do Island, Inchon Harbor, loading supplies for the upcoming Wonsan invasion.

In three separate acts dated 6 February 1942, 26 May 1943, and 17 December 1943, Congress provided the authority for the construction of LSTs along with a host of other auxiliaries, destroyer escorts, and assorted [[several respects. As soon as the basic design had been developed, contracts were let and construction was commenced in quantity before the completion of a test vessel. Preliminary orders were rushed out oraly or by telegrams, telephone, and air mail letters. The ordering of certain materials actually preceded the completion of design work. While many heavy equipment items such as main propulsion machinery were furnished directly by the Navy, the balance of the procurement was handled centrally by the Material Coordinating Agency—an adjunct of the Bureau of Ships—so that the numerous builders in the program would not have to bid against one another. Through vigorous follow-up action on materials ordered, the agency made possible the completion of construction schedules in record time.

LST-983, with LST-601 in the background, launches a Marine LVTP-5 for a waterborne landing. When carrying amphibious tractors, an LST could land her payload from offshore without beaching.
LST-983, with LST-601 in the background, launches a Marine LVTP-5 for a waterborne landing. When carrying amphibious tractors, an LST could land her payload from offshore without beaching.

The need for LSTs was urgent, and the program enjoyed a high priority throughout the war. Since most shipbuilding activities were located in coastal yards and were largely used for construction of large, deep-draft ships, new construction facilities were established along inland waterways. In some instances, heavy-industry plants such as steel fabrication yards were converted for LST construction. This posed the problem of getting the completed ships from the inland building yards to deep water. The chief obstacles were bridges. The Navy successfully undertook the modification of bridges and, through a "Ferry Command" of Navy crews, transported the newly constructed ships to coastal ports for fitting out. The success of these "cornfield" shipyards of the Middle West was a revelation to the long-established shipbuilders on the coasts. Their contribution to the LST building program was enormous. Of the 1,051 LSTs built during World War II, 670 were constructed by five major inland builders. The most LSTs constructed during WWII were built in Evansville, Indiana, by Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron, & International Steel Co.

By 1943, the construction time for an LST had been reduced to four months; and, by the end of the war, it had been cut to two months. Considerable effort was expended to hold the ship's design constant; but, by mid-1943, operating experience led to the incorporation of certain changes in the new ships. These modifications included: the replacing of the elevator by a ramp from the main deck to the tank deck, an increase in armament, and the addition of a distilling plant to make potable water. The main deck was strengthened to accommodate a fully-equipped landing craft tank (LCT).

[edit] Design and production LST (3)

Towards the end of 1943 there was a shortage of US-built "LST (2)" for use on purely British operations, so it was decided to undertake the building of such ships in Britain and Canada. It was put forward in the autumn of 1943 that 80 ships should be available by the spring of 1945. Unfortunately facilities were not available to build "LST (2)" class ships in the UK, as locomotive type diesels were not available for the main propulsion machinery, and there was a shortage of welding facilities. Also the naval staff were very anxious to have higher speeds if these were at all possible. When the design was investigated it became clear that the only available resources were those that had been allocated to the riveted, steam powered frigates of the River, Loch, and Bay classes, which were being built but were no longer a priority. The design was prepared including Cutaway Hard Chine, which had been dropped from the "LST (2)". The tank deck was parallel to the keel, and above the waterline. The upper deck was flat with no round down. It was not possible to get the machinery in beneath the tank deck, as had been the case with the locomotive diesels on the "LST (2)"s; and the increased weight and space taken up by the reciprocating steam engines resulted in the ships being larger for the same load. The combination of Hard Chine, Full form and skeggs made the vessels strong, but increased resistance, meaning that for increasing installed power from 1800 shp on the "LST (2)" to 5500 shp on the "LST (3)" speed increased from 10 knots to just 13 knots! When the design was commenced, it was known that the beaches on which the ships were expected to be used would be very flat, but it was not possible to produce a satisfactory vessel with a 3ft draught forward, and very little keel slope, so the 1 in 50 keel slope was maintained, and provision was made to enable the vessels to be able to discharge their cargo when grounded aft. This provision included heavy grounding skegs, and the means to carry N.L. Pontoon Causeways. These causeways had first been used with the Maracaibos, and subsequently with other marks of LST, as it was found that generally a 1 in 50 keel slope resulted in the ships grounding aft on the majority of beaches, resulting in the vehicles being discharged into comparatively deep water. Various methods had been investigated to overcome this problem, but the N.L. pontoon causeways were finally accepted as standard; they were formed of pontoons 7 ft x 5 ft x 5 ft, made up into strings and rafts. When offloading the rafts were secured to the fore end of the ship, and the load discharged directly onto the shore, or towed on the raft to the shore. The bow door arrangements were similar to the "LST (2)", but the bow ramp was arranged in two parts in an attempt to increase the number of beaches onto which direct discharge would be possible. The machinery for operating the bow doors and ramp were electrical, but otherwise steam auxiliaries were fitted instead of the electrical gear on the "LST (2)". The general arrangements of the tank deck were similar, but head room was increased, and a ramp fitted to reach the top deck, as in later "LST (2)"s. Provision was made for carrying LCA on gravity davits instead of the American built assault boats. The arrangements were generally an improvement on the "LST (2)"s, but they suffered from their deeper draught, and to some extent from the haste in which they were built. First orders were placed in December 1943, 45 with British builders, and 35 with Canadian builders, the first of these ships was delivered by Swan Hunter in December 1944. During 1944, follow up orders were placed in Canada for a further 36. These programmes were in full swing when the war ended, not all vessels were completed.

So successful had been the design and production of "LST (2)", described above, and so much needed were such vessels for British operations, that it was decided to build a further 80 of them in UK and Canada to be available in the Spring of 1945. Two major problems made redesign necessary. The locomotive type diesel engines were not available and welding facilities were scarce. Staff wanted more power and higher speeds if possible. The only engines available were very heavy steam reciprocating engines designed for frigates and delivering two and a half times the power of the diesels. So large were they, that significant changes had to be made to accommodate them. At the same time some other improvements were made as well as simplifications needed to allow for rivetting most of the structure. The cutaway hard chine which had been dropped in the American version of the design of the Mark 2 vessels was restored. The tank deck, which was above the waterline, was made parallel to the keel, there was no round down to the upper deck, the ship was enlarged to accommodate the more bulky machinery. The beaches for which these vessels were designed were known to be very flat and it was not feasible to design a satisfactory vessel with a 3 ft draught forward and a flat keel. So the one in fifty keel slope was retained and heavy skegs were added to enable cargo to be discharged when fully grounded. Provision was made for carrying the British Landing Craft Assault (LCA) in gravity davits instead of American assault craft. Provision was made for carrying Landing Craft Tank (LCT) and Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM), and NL pontoon causeways. The ships were fitted out for service in both very cold and tropical conditions. The accommodation provided for both crew and army personnel was greatly improved compared with LST (2). The main hazard, apart from enemy action, was fire on the tank deck. Fire sprinklers were provided but the water drenching system, installed in later American vessels could not be provided.

Orders were placed in December 1943, 45 to be built in UK and 35 in Canada. The first ship was delivered by Swan Hunter in December 1944. A repeat order was placed for a further 36 to be built in Canada. The war ended before this programme was completed. When the design was commenced, it was known that the beaches on which the ships were expected to be used would be very flat, but it was not possible to produce a satisfactory vessel with a 3ft draught forward, and very little keel slope, so the 1 in 50 keel slope was maintained, and provision was made to enable the vessels to be able to discharge their cargo when grounded aft. This provision included heavy grounding skegs, and the means to carry N.L. Pontoon Causeways. These causeways had first been used with the Maracaibos, and subsequently with other marks of LST, as it was found that generally a 1 in 50 keel slope resulted in the ships grounding aft on the majority of beaches, resulting in the vehicles being discharged into comparatively deep water. Various methods had been investigated to overcome this problem, but the N.L. pontoon causeways were finally accepted as standard; they were formed of pontoons 7ftx5ftx5ft, made up into strings and rafts. When offloading the rafts were secured to the fore end of the ship, and the load discharged directly onto the shore, or towed on the raft to the shore. The bow door arrangements were similar to the "LST (2)", but the bow ramp was arranged in two parts in an attempt to increase the number of beaches onto which direct discharge would be possible. The machinery for operating the bow doors and ramp were electrical, but otherwise steam auxiliaries were fitted instead of the electrical gear on the "LST (2)". The general arrangements of the tank deck were similar, but head room was increased, and a ramp fitted to reach the top deck, as in later "LST (2)"s. Provision was made for carrying LCA on gravity davits instead of the American built assault boats. The arrangements were generally an improvement on the "LST (2)"s, but they suffered from their deeper draught, and to some extent from the haste in which they were built. First orders were placed in December 1943, 45 with British builders, and 35 with Canadian builders, the first of these ships was delivered by Swan Hunter in December 1944. During 1944, follow up orders were placed in Canada for a further 36. These programmes were in full swing when the war ended, not all vessels were completed.

[edit] Propulsion Machinery

Steam was supplied by a pair of Admiralty 3 Drum water tube type boilers, working at 225 pounds per square inch, The main engines were of the 4-cylinder triple expansion 4-crank type, balanced on the Yarrow-Tweedy-Slick system, the cylinders being as follows;

High pressure 18.5in diameter
Medium pressure 31.0in diameter
Forward low pressure 38.5in diameter
Aft low pressure 38.5in diameter

The common stroke was 30.0 inches. The piston and slide valve rods were all fitted with metallic packing to the stuffing boxes, and all pistons fitted with packing rings and springs. The high-pressure valve was of the piston type, whilst the remaining ones were of the balanced type. The main engines were designed to develop 2750Hp at 185rpm continuously. With the ships being twin screw, the engines were fitted with a shaft coupling to the crank shaft at the forward end, allowing the engine to be turned end to end to suite either port or starboard side fitting. When the "LST (3)"s were being ordered the "LST (2)" programme was in full swing, and similar arrangements were made to enable the LSTs to carry the 112 ft long LCT5 or LCT6 which were being built in America for the Royal Navy. The LCT needed lifting onto the deck of the ship, being carried on wedge shaped support blocks; at the time of launching she was set down on the “launch ways” by simply slacking off bolts in the wedge blocks, allowing the launch way to take the weight. To carry out a launch, the LST was simply heeled over about 11 degrees by careful flooding of tanks in the hull. The height of the drop was about 10ft, and immediately after the launch the crafts engines were started and they were ready for operation. This method was used for moving LCT5s from Britain to the far east, although I have found no reference to LST (3)"s being used, most being completed late in or after the war. Even at the end of the war there was a need for more ships able to carry minor landing craft, and two of the "LST (3)"s then completing were specially fitted to carry LCM (7). These craft, which were 58ft long and weighed about 28 tons, were carried transversely on the upper deck of the ship. They were hoisted on by means of a specially fitted 30-ton derrick; This 30 ton derrick replaced a 15-ton derrick, two of which were the standard fit of the "LST(3)". The 30-ton derrick was taller and generally more substantial than the 15 ton one. They were landed on trolleys fitted with hydraulic jacks. These ran on rails down each side of the deck, and were hauled too and fro by means of winches. The stowage was filled from fore to aft as each craft was jacked down onto fixed cradles between the rails. The ships completed to this standard were 3043 Messina, and 3044 Narvik. While these ships were able to carry LCM, they were only able to carry out loading and unloading operations under nearly ideal weather conditions, and as such were not able to be used as such for assault operations, they also lacked the facilities to maintain the landing craft [which the Dock Landing Ships provided]. The LCA’s, or Landing Craft Assault, were wartime developments. Wooden hulled, with a length of 41ft 6in overall including propeller guards. Beam was 10ft, and had a displacement of 10 tons, rising to 13 tons fully loaded. Draught was 2ft 3in, and normal load was 35 troops with 800lb of equipment. A pair of Scripps marine conversions of Ford V8 marine engines, producing 130BHP at 2800RPM, provided propulsion producing 11 knots unloaded, 8 knots service speed, 3 knots on one engine. Range was 50-80 miles on 64 gallons. Armament was typically a bren gun aft; with 2 Lewis guns in a port forward position. They were replaced by similar craft built in the 1950’s and 1960’s that were known as LCVP or Landing Craft Vehicle and personnel.

The LCM7’s that were carried on the LST© were considerably larger, 60ft 3in in length, 16ft beam, with a hoisting weight of 28 tons, full load displacement of 63 tons. Beaching draught was 3ft 8in, and propulsion was provided by a pair of Hudson Invader petrol engines, later replaced with Grays diesels, both sets providing 290 BHP, giving a speed of 9.8 knots. The main requirement of the design was to carry a 40 ton Churchill tank or bulldozer at 10 knots. 140 had been completed when the war ended, and some saw service through to the 1970’s.

[edit] Ben Nevis, and Ben Lomond, LST (Q) 1 & 2

These two vessels were completed as LST mother ships, similar in most aspects to American ships based on the "LST (2)" hull. They had two Quonset huts erected on the main deck to accommodate 40 officers. Berths on the tank deck berthed an extra 196 men. A bake shop and 16 refrigeration boxes for fresh provisions augmented the facilities normally provided for the crew. Four extra distilling units were added, and the ballast tanks were converted for the storage of fresh water.

[edit] Service in World War II

U.S. LSTs carrying the Australian 26th Brigade from Morotai Island to Tarakan Island in April 1945.
U.S. LSTs carrying the Australian 26th Brigade from Morotai Island to Tarakan Island in April 1945.

At the Armor Training School in Ft. Knox, KY, buildings were erected as exact mock-ups of an LST. Tank crews in training learned how to maneuver their vehicles onto, in and from an LST with these facilities. One of these buildings has been preserved at Ft. Knox for historic reasons and can still be seen there to this day.

From their combat debut in the Solomon Islands in June 1943 until the end of the hostilities in August 1945, the LSTs performed a vital service in World War II. They participated in the invasions of Sicily (Operation Husky), Italy, Normandy, and southern France in the European Theater and were an essential element in the island-hopping campaigns in the Pacific which culminated in the liberation of the Philippines and the capture of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

The LST proved to be a remarkably versatile ship. A number of them were converted to become landing craft repair ships (ARL). In this design, the bow ramp and doors were removed, and the bow was sealed. Derricks, booms, and winches were added to haul damaged landing craft on board for repairs, and blacksmith, machine, and electrical workshops were provided on the main deck and tank deck. Another successful conversion was the LST "Mother Ship". This version of the standard LST hull had two Quonset huts erected on the main deck to accommodate 40 officers. Bunks on the tank deck berthed an additional 196 men. A bake shop and 16 refrigeration boxes for fresh provisions augmented the facilities normally provided the crew. Four extra distilling units were added, and the ballast tanks were converted for storage of fresh water.

LST-310 (2nd LST from the right) along with other ships putting cargo ashore on one of the invasion beaches, at low tide during the first days of the Invasion of Normandy in June, 1944. Among identifiable ships present are LST-532 (in the center of the view); LST-262 (3rd LST from right); LST-533 (partially visible at far right); and LST-524. Note the barrage balloons overhead and Army "half-track" convoy forming up on the beach.
LST-310 (2nd LST from the right) along with other ships putting cargo ashore on one of the invasion beaches, at low tide during the first days of the Invasion of Normandy in June, 1944. Among identifiable ships present are LST-532 (in the center of the view); LST-262 (3rd LST from right); LST-533 (partially visible at far right); and LST-524. Note the barrage balloons overhead and Army "half-track" convoy forming up on the beach.

Thirty-eight LSTs were converted to serve as small hospital ships and designated LSTH. They supplemented the many standard LSTs which removed casualties from the beach following the landing of their cargo of tanks and vehicles. For example, on D-Day, LSTs brought 41,035 wounded men back across the English Channel from the Normandy beaches.[citation needed] Other LSTs, provided with extra cranes and handling gear, were used exclusively for replenishing ammunition. They possessed a special advantage in this role, as their size permitted two or three LSTs to go simultaneously alongside an anchored battleship or cruiser to accomplish replenishment more rapidly than standard ammunition ships.

Three LST (2) were converted into British "Fighter Direction Tenders" swapping their landing craft for Motor Launches[2]

In the latter stages of World War II, some LSTs such as USS LST-906 were fitted with flight decks from which small observation planes were sent up during amphibious operations. It has been estimated that, in the combined fleets assembled for the war on Japan, the tonnage of landing ships, excluding landing craft, would have exceeded 5 million tons and nearly all built within four years.

Throughout the war, LSTs demonstrated a remarkable capacity to absorb punishment and survive. Despite the sobriquets "Large Slow Target" and "Large Stationary Target" which were applied to them by irreverent crew members, the LSTs suffered few losses in proportion to their number and the scope of their operations. Their brilliantly conceived structural arrangement provided unusual strength and buoyancy; HMS LST-3002 was struck and holed in a post-war collision with a Victory ship and survived. Although the LST was considered a valuable target by the enemy, only 26 were lost due to enemy action, and a mere 13 were the victims of weather, reef, or accident. A total of 1,152 LSTs were contracted for in the great naval building program of World War II, but 101 were cancelled in the fall of 1942 because of shifting construction priorities. Of 1,051 actually constructed, 113 LSTs were transferred to Britain under the terms of Lend-Lease, and four more were turned over to the Greek Navy. Conversions to other ship types with different hull designations accounted for 116.

[edit] Post-War developments

The USS Graham County (LST-1176) beached at Vieques, Puerto Rico in 1964. Note her bow door configuration, 3"/50 twin gun mounts, and radar-equipped gun directors.
The USS Graham County (LST-1176) beached at Vieques, Puerto Rico in 1964. Note her bow door configuration, 3"/50 twin gun mounts, and radar-equipped gun directors.

The end of World War II left the Navy with a huge inventory of amphibious ships. Hundreds of these were scrapped or sunk, and most of the remaining ships were put in "mothballs" to be preserved for the future. Additionally, many of the LSTs were demilitarized and sold to the private sector, along with thousands of other transport ships, contributing to a major downturn in shipbuilding in the United States following the war. World War II era LSTs have become somewhat ubiquitous, and have found a number of novel commercial uses, including operating as small freighters, ferries, and dredges. Consequently, construction of LSTs in the immediate post-war years was modest. LST-1153 and LST-1154, commissioned respectively in 1947 and 1949, were the only steam-driven LSTs ever built by the Navy. They provided improved berthing arrangements and a greater cargo capacity than their predecessors.

The success of the amphibious assault at Inchon during the Korean War pointed out the utility of LSTs once again. This was in contrast with the earlier opinion expressed by many military authorities that the advent of the atomic bomb had relegated amphibious landings to a thing of the past. As a consequence, 15 LSTs of what were later to be known as the Terrebonne Parish-class were constructed in the early 1950s. These new LSTs were 56 feet longer and were equipped with four, rather than two, diesel engines, which increased their speed to 15 knots. Three-inch 50-caliber twin mounts replaced the old twin 40-millimeter guns, and controllable pitch propellers improved the ship's backing power. On 1 July 1955, county or parish names (Louisiana counties are called "parishes") were assigned to many LSTs, which up to then had borne only a letter-number hull designation.

In the late 1950s, seven LSTs of the De Soto County-class were constructed. These were an improved version over earlier LSTs, with a high degree of habitability for the crew and embarked troops. Considered the "ultimate" design attainable with the traditional LST bow door configuration, they were capable of 17.5 knots. Civil RORO The way forward.

In 1946 a brand new concept of transport was developed in the UK. It was during W/W2 that a few experienced men who were taking part in seaborne operations against hostile forces in North Africa, Italy and culminating in the Normandy Landings recognised the great potential of landing ships and craft. The idea was simple; if you could drive tanks, guns and lorries directly onto a ship and then drive them off at the other end directly onto a beach, then theoretically you could use the same landing craft to carry out the same operation in the civilian commercial market, providing there were reasonable port facilities. From this one idea grew the worldwide Roll on/Roll off ferry industry that we know to-day. In the period between the wars Michael Bustard formed the Atlantic Steam Navigation Company, with a view to cheap transatlantic travel, this never came off, but during the war he observed trials on Brighton Sands of an LST in 1943 when its peacetime capabilities were obvious. In the spring of 1946 Michael Bustard approached the Admiralty with a request to purchase three of these vessels. The Admiralty were unwilling to sell, but after negotiations agreed to let the ASN have the use of three vessels on bareboat charter at a rate of £13-6s-8d per day. These vessels were LST- 3519, 3534, and 3512. They were to be named Empire Baltic, Empire Cedric, and Empire Celtic, perpetuating the name of White Star ships. The chartered vessels had to be adapted for their new role. First the accommodation on board had to be improved, and alterations in the engine and boiler rooms had also to be made. Modified funnels and navigational aids had also to be provided before they could enter service. On the morning of 11 September 1946 the first voyage of the Atlantic Steam Navigation Company took place when the Empire Baltic sailed from Tilbury to Rotterdam with a full load of 64 vehicles for the Dutch Government, On arrival at Waalhaven the vessel beached in the method employed during wartime landings, being held by a stern anchor. The vessel stayed on the beach overnight, returning at 8am the next morning. This leisurely pace of work was followed for the first few voyages, the beach being employed possibly due to normal port facilities being unavailable due to wartime damage. Following the Rotterdam maiden voyage, ASN used their new vessels to transfer thousands of vehicles for the Army from Tilbury to Hamburg, later moved to Antwerp in 1955. The original three LST’s were joined in 1948 by another British LST 3041, named Empire Doric, after the ASN were able to convince commercial operators to support the new route between Preston and the Antrim port of Larne. Originally Liverpool was chosen, but opposition from other operators led to a move to Preston in Lancashire, However, special port facilities where constructed at both Preston and Larne before the new route could be open. The first sailing of this new route between Preston and Larne was on the 21 May 1948 by Empire Cedric. After the inaugural sailing Empire Cedric continued on the Northern Ireland service, offering initially a twice-weekly service, Empire Cedric was the first vessel of the ASN fleet to hold a Passenger Certificate, and was allowed to carry 50 passengers. Thus Empire Cedric became the first vessel in the world to operate as a commercial/ passenger Roll on/ Roll off ferry, and the ASN became the first commercial company to offer this type of ferry service. In Ulster, the Antrim Port of Larne welcomed ASN. The initial two sailings a week were inaugurated on 21st May 1948, between a wartime built end loading ramp built by the engineers during WW2 at Preston, and a floating pontoon from a Mulberry harbour, connected via a bridge to the Quay at Larne. Following the inaugural sailing EMPIRE CEDRIC maintained the service, initially offering two sailings a week; Some of the first cargo on this service was two lorry loads of 65 gas cookers each on behalf of Messrs Moffats of Blackburn, which are believed to have been the first commercial vehicles carried in this way as freight-a small beginning for the RO RO revolution. The Preston to Larne service continued to expand so much so that in 1950 the service was expanded to include a service to Belfast, This service opened in 1950 and sailings out of Preston where soon increased to 6 or 7 a week to either Belfast or Larne. In 1954, the British Transport Commission (BTC) took over the ASN under the Labour Governments nationalisation policy. In 1955 another two LST’s where chartered into the existing fleet these being Empire Cymric and Empire Nordic bringing the fleet strength to seven. The Hamburg service was terminated in this year (1955), and a new service was opened between Antwerp and Tilbury. The fleet of seven ships was to be split up with the usual three ships based at Tilbury and the others maintaining the Preston services to Northern Ireland. During late 1956, the entire fleet of ASN were taken over for use in the Mediterranean during the Suez Crisis, and the Drive on Drive off services were not re-established until January 1957. At this point ASN were made responsible for the management of twelve Admiralty LST3’s brought out of lay up as a result of the Suez Crisis, but too late to see service in that crisis.

The LST3 in Army Service. A major task at the end of world war two was the redistribution of stores and equipment worldwide. Due to the scarcity and expense of merchant shipping it was decided in 1946 that the RASC civilian fleet should take over seven LST’s from the Royal Navy, These were named after distinguished corps officers. Their names were Evan Gibb, Charles Macleod, Maxwell Brander, Snowden Smith, Humphrey Gale, Reginald Kerr, Fredrick Glover. The LST’s needed to comply with board of trade regulations, and to be brought up to merchant navy standards, which involved lengthy alterations including extra accommodation. On completion, five vessels sailed for the Middle East, and two for the Far East. During the evacuation of Palestine, Humphrey Gale and Evan Gibb made fifteen voyages each between Haifa and Port Said lifting between them 26,000 tons of vehicles and stores. Similar work was done world wide until 1952 when the ships were handed over to the Atlantic Steam Navigation Company, and subsequently in 1961 to the British India Steamship Company, tasked by the War Office directly, RASC having no further concern with their administration.

The LST3 as Aviation Training Ship, HMS Lofoten. The rapid increase in the use of Helicopters in the Royal Navy in the late 1950’s and 1960’s required an increase in the training and support facilities ashore and afloat. Operational training for aircrew was carried out by naval air stations at Portland and Culdrose. The scrapping of some carriers, and conversion of other to commando carriers in the mid 1950’s left a shortage of suitable decks. This led to the ordering of the ENGADINE (in 1964); however she would not be available till 1967, in the meantime it was decided to convert one of the remaining LST’s to serve as an interim training ship. This work was carried out at Devenport Dockyard in 1964. The deck forward of the cargo hatch was cleared of all obstructions, and strengthened for helicopter use; A small deckhouse used tu support the gun emplacements was retained, although no guns were fitted, and it was used by the Flight Deck Officer as a helicopter control position. Below deck, two 10,000gallon aviation fuel tanks were installed at the fore end of the tank deck, and refuelling positions provided at the fore end of the flight deck. The tanks were sealed off by a bulkhead and the rest of the space used for stores, workshops and accommodation. Finally the bow doors were welded up, as they would no longer be needed. The flight deck was large enough for two Wessex helicopters with rotors turning, or six could be parked with rotors folded. LOFOTEN proved extremely useful in service, and many lessons were learned that would be incorporated into ENGADINE.

[edit] Modern developments

The USS Frederick (LST-1184) at sea. Today's Newport-class ships can debark amphibious vehicles from their stern gates.
The USS Frederick (LST-1184) at sea. Today's Newport-class ships can debark amphibious vehicles from their stern gates.

The commissioning of the Newport-class in 1969 marked the introduction of an entirely new concept in the design of LSTs. She was the first of a new class of 20 LSTs capable of steaming at a sustained speed of 20 knots. To obtain that speed, the traditional blunt bow doors of the LST were replaced by a pointed ship bow. Unloading is accomplished through the use of a 112-foot (34 m) ramp operated over the bow and supported by twin derrick arms. A stern gate to the tank deck permits unloading of amphibious tractors into the water or the unloading of other vehicles into a landing craft utility (LCU), onto a pier, or directly into the water. Capable of operating with high-speed amphibious squadrons consisting of LHAs, LPDs, and LSDs, the Newport-class LST can transport tanks, other heavy vehicles, and engineer equipment which cannot readily be landed by helicopters or landing craft. The Newport type has been removed from the U.S. Navy, but serves on in the navies of Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Morocco, Taiwan, Spain and, in a modified form, Australia.

[edit] Specifications

[edit] HMS Misoa

  • Gross tonnage: 4,900
  • Length: 382 ft
  • Draught: 15 ft aft and 4 ft forward when fully laden
  • Equipment
    • two 50 ton derrick cranes
    • double hinged ramp effective length of 100ft
  • Capacity:
    • eighteen 30 ton tanks or twenty-two 25 ton tanks or 33 heavy trucks.
    • Berths for 217 troops
  • crew: 98 Combined Operations personnel
  • Armament:
    • twin 40 mm gun,
    • six 20 mm guns
    • 3 Lewis gun
    • smoke mortar.

[edit] LST (2) class specifications

  • Displacement:
unloaded: 1,780 tons (1,615 metric tons),
fully loaded: 3,880 tons (3,520 metric tons)
  • Length: 327 ft, 9 in (99.8982 m)
  • Beam: 50 ft (15.24 m)
  • Draft
unloaded: bow 2 ft 4 in (0.711 m); stern 7 ft 6 in (2.286 m)
loaded:   bow 8 ft 2 in (2.489 m); stern 14 ft 1 in (4.293 m)
  • Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h)
  • Complement: 8 to 10 officers, 100 to 115 enlisted;
  • Troop Capacity: approx. 140 officers and other ranks;
Boats: 2-6 LCVP;
  • Armament:
1 x 3 in (76 mm) gun
6 x 40 mm gun
6 x 20 mm gun
2 x .50 cal (12.7 mm) machine guns,
4 x .30 cal (7.62 mm) machine guns

[edit] LST (3) specifications

  • Overall length: 347 ft
  • Breadth extreme 55 ft 2 in
  • Depth moulded 27 ft
  • Propeller diameter 10 ft
  • Deep displacement 4,980 t
  • Beaching draught
Forward: 4 ft 7 in
Aft: 11 ft 6 in
  • Machinery: Twin screw steam reciprocating
  • Horsepower: 5,500 hp
  • Speed 13 knots
  • Complement
Army: 13 officers 150 men
Ships: 14 officers 90 men
  • Staff specification:
To embark and disembark tanks, motor transport etc. on beaches of varying slopes, and amphibians and DD Shermans into deep water.
To carry five LCAs or similar craft and one LCT (5) or LCT (6) on the upperdeck in place of transport and as an alternative to LCT (5) two NL causeway to be carried; the LCT (5) and NL causeways to be capable of launching direct from the upper deck.
To carry 500 tons of military load and to beach with that and sufficient fuel and stores for 1000 miles return journey at 10 knots, on draughts 4 ft 6 in forward and 11 ft 6 in aft.
To be capable of carrying a load of sixty tons over the main ramp and ten tons over the vehicle ramp (i.e. the 50 ft ramp from the upper deck to the bow door. After trials, this was removed from some vessels)
To be fitted for operations in the tropics and in cold climates.
  • Built in UK: 31 as LST (3); two as LST (C); two as LST (Q)
  • Built in Canada: twenty-six as LST (3).

[edit] References

This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

  • Rottman, Gordon (2005) Landing Ship, Tank (LST) 1942–2002
  • New Vanguard 115, Osprey Publishing
  • Brown, D. K. (ed.) (1996) The Design and Construction of British Warships 1939 – 1945 The Official Record. Conway Maritime Press London. pp 73-80.
  • Baker, R. (1947) Ships of the Invasion Fleet. Proceeding of the Royal Institute of Naval Architects, Vol. 89 pp. 59-72.

H. T. Lenton Warships of the British and Commonwealth Navies 1966 1971 Ian Allan Publishing

Geoffrey Carter Crises Do Happen. -The Royal Navy And Operation Musketeer, Suez 1956. Maritime Books 2006

Gordon L. Rottman Landing Ship Tank (LST) 1942-2002 New Vanguard 2005 ISBN 1 84176 923 1

Selected Papers On British Warship Design In World War Π From The Transactions Of The Royal Institute Of Naval Architects. Conways Maritime Press 1947 reprinted 1983 ISBN 0 85177 284 6

Brian Macdermott Ships Without Names-The Story of The Royal Navy’s Tank Landing Ships In World War Two. Arms & Armour 1992 ISBN 1-85409-126-3

J. D. Ladd Assault From The Sea 1939-1945 ISBN 0 7153 6937-7

Ed. D. K. Brown The Design And Construction Of British Warships 1939-1945 Vol 3 Amphibious Warfare Vessels And Auxiliaries ISBN 0 85177 675 2

Leo Marriot Royal Navy Aircraft Carriers 1945-1990 Ian Allan 1985 ISBN 0 7110 1561 9

Miles Cowsill By Road Across The Sea- The History Of Atlantic Steam Navigation Company Ferry Publications 1990 ISBN 1 871947 07 3

Ian Speller The Role of Amphibious warfare in British Defence Policy, 1945-56 Cormorant Security Series Palgrave ISBN 0-333-80097-4

Edited by Tristan Lovering MBE Amphibious Assault, Manoeuvre from the sea Seafarer Books ISBN 13; 9780955024351


[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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