The Amphibious Forces of the us navy




НазваниеThe Amphibious Forces of the us navy
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[edit] Post-War developments

[edit] United States

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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.

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Embarked troops on the Greek LST Lemnos (L-158) ex-USS LST-36, around 1956

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. Also, many LSTs were used as targets in aquatic nuclear testing after the war, being readily available and serving no apparent military applications. 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, fifteen 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 (17 m) longer and were equipped with four, rather than two, diesel engines, which increased their speed to 15 knots (28 km/h). 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 (32.4 km/h).

[edit] United Kingdom

[edit] The LST (3) as commercial ferry

In 1946 a brand new concept of transport was developed in the UK. It was during World War II that a few experienced men 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 idea grew the worldwide roll-on/roll-off ferry industry of today. In the period between the wars Michael Bustard formed the Atlantic Steam Navigation Company, with a view to cheap transatlantic travel, this never materialised, 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 LSTs 3519, 3534, and 3512. They were renamed Empire Baltic, Empire Cedric, and Empire Celtic, perpetuating the name of White Star Line 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 using the method employed during wartime landings, being held by a stern anchor. The vessel stayed on the beach overnight, returning at 08:00 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 LSTs were joined in 1948 by another vessel, LST 3041, renamed 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 were constructed at both Preston and Larne before the new route could be opened – a wartime-built end loading ramp built by engineers during World War II at Preston, and a floating pontoon from a Mulberry harbour connected via a bridge to the Quay at Larne.

The first sailing of this new route was on 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 fifty 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 service.

Some of the first cargo on this service were two lorry-loads of 65 gas cookers each on behalf of Messrs Moffats of Blackburn, believed to be the first commercial vehicles carried in this way as freight. The Preston—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 were soon increased to six or seven a week to either Belfast or Larne.

In 1954, the British Transport Commission (BTC) took over the ASN under the Labour Governments nationalization policy. In 1955 another two LSTs where chartered into the existing fleet, Empire Cymric and Empire Nordic, bringing the fleet strength to seven. The Hamburg service was terminated in 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 to Northern Ireland service.

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 LST (3)'s brought out of reserve as a result of the Suez Crisis too late to see service.

[edit] The LST (3) in Army service

A major task at the end of World War II was the redistribution of stores and equipment worldwide. Due to the scarcity and expense of merchant shipping it was decided in 1946 that the Royal Army Service Corps civilian fleet should take over seven LSTs from the Royal Navy, These were named after distinguished corps officers; Evan Gibb, Charles Macleod, Maxwell Brander, Snowden Smith, Humphrey Gale, Reginald Kerr, Fredrick Glover.

The LSTs 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 worldwide until 1952 when the ships were handed over to the Atlantic Steam Navigation Company, and subsequently in 1961 to the British-India Steam Navigation Company, tasked by the War Office directly, RASC having no further concern with their administration.

[edit] The LST (3) as aviation training ship

The rapid increase in the use of helicopters in the Royal Navy in the late 1950s and 1960s 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-1950s left a shortage of suitable decks. This led to the ordering of the RFA Engadine in 1964; however she would not be available till 1967, in the meantime it was decided to convert LST 3027 to serve as an interim training ship.

This work was carried out at Devonport Dockyard in 1964. The deck forward of the cargo hatch was cleared of all obstructions, and strengthened for helicopter use. A small deckhouse used to 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 10,000 gallon 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 sealed, as they would no longer be needed. The flight deck was large enough for two Westland Wessex helicopters with rotors turning, or six could be parked with rotors folded. Renamed HMS Lofoten she proved extremely useful in service, and many lessons were learned that would be incorporated into Engadine.

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