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Dutch and American LCUs.

French EDA-R catamaran on exercises in October 2012 with a more traditional design, the British LCU Mk10, in the foreground.

The Landing Craft Utility (LCU) is a type of boat used by amphibious forces to transport equipment and troops to the shore. They are capable of transporting tracked or wheeled vehicles and troops from amphibious assault ships to beachheads or piers.


The Engin de débarquement amphibie rapide (EDA-R) landing catamaran or L-CAT, entered service in January 2011. They can carry a main battle tank like other European LCUs, but are capable of much higher speeds, up to 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph).


Only two Barbe class utility landing craft (Type 520), dating from the mid-1960s, remain in service with SEK-M Naval Special Forces command, but Germany is looking to buy more. Five Barbe were transferred to Greece at the end of the Cold War.


Landing Craft Utility
Class overview
Name: LCU Mk.II (NL) class
Operators:  Royal Netherlands Navy, Netherlands Marine Corps
General characteristics
Type: Ro-Ro landing craft
Displacement: 255 tonnes (251 long tons)
Length: 36.3 m (119 ft 1 in)
Beam: 6.85 m (22 ft 6 in)
Draft: .85 m (2 ft 9 in) forward, full load
1.4 m (4 ft 7 in) aft, full load
Capacity: 65 tonnes (64 long tons)
Complement: 7
Armament: 2 × Browning .50 calibre (12.7 mm) machine guns

With the launch of the amphibious transport ship HNLMS Rotterdam in 1998 there was a need for LCUs. The Dutch LCUs are similar to the British LCU Mk.10 with the bridge being set to one side allowing for a roll-on roll-off design. Until 2005 the Netherlands Marine Corps used the LCU Mark I (NL).

In 2005 and 2006 the five vessels were modernized to the type Mark II. The vessels have been stretched by 9 meters to decrease their draft, which increased their load carrying capacity by 20 tons and allows them to come closer to shore. In addition they were fitted with a strengthened bow ramp, and they can now accommodate the Royal Netherlands Army Leopard 2A6 main battle tank. Because of the lengthening of the Mark II, the Rotterdam can only take two LCU (plus three LCVPs) in its dock. The dock of Rotterdam's sister ship, Johan de Witt, has only enough capacity to transport two LCU, but carries four LCVPs in davits.

United Kingdom

Landing Craft Utility
LCU Mk.10
LCU Mk.10
Class overview
Name: LCU Mk.10
Operators:  Royal Navy, Royal Marines
Preceded by: LCU Mk.9
General characteristics
Type: Ro-Ro landing craft
Displacement: 236 long tons (240 t)
Length: 97 ft 7 in (29.74 m)
Beam: 24 ft 3 in (7.39 m)
Draught: 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Propulsion: 2 × diesel engines
Speed: 8.5 knots (15.7 km/h; 9.8 mph)
Capacity: 1 main battle tank, 4 large vehicles, or 120 troops

LCU Mk.9

The LCU Mk.9 was built for use on the LPDs Fearless and Intrepid where they were operated from the dock in the rear of the ships.[1] Each ship carried four LCUs and four davit mounted LCVPs. The Mk.9 was to see many changes and upgrades during its service including a move from propeller to jet in many cases. The Mk.9 was capable of traveling as an ocean-going vessel and a number would be converted into a version, affectionately known as the "Black Pig", for use in Norway. The crew had full living quarters aboard with galley and heads. The opinion that the successful British amphibious operations during the Falklands War were only possible because of the two LPDs and their landing craft is well documented.[citation needed] The Mk.9, like the LPDs, served longer than ever anticipated, providing the backbone of Britain's amphibious assault capabilities.

Three Mk.9s, pennant numbers 701, 705, and 709, remain in service as of 2008, and are fitted with Schottel Propulsors.[1]

LCU Mk.10

The LCU Mk.10 class vessels are operated by the Royal Marines. They are intended for use on board the new assault ships Albion and Bulwark and can use the Bay class landing ships. Deliveries of the class started from 1998 and the fleet currently consists of ten vessels, bearing pennant numbers 1001 to 1010. Both Albion and Bulwark are capable of carrying 4 LCU's. These vessels are capable of operating independently for up to 14 days with a range of 600 nautical miles. They are capable of operating world-wide, from Arctic operating areas to tropical operating areas. The Mk.10 differs greatly from the Mk.9 with the bridge being set to the side allowing for a roll-on roll-off design. This greatly increases efficiency over the old Mk.9 as loading of the rear LCUs can take place without the LCUs being launched, the LPD having to dock down to do so, to change over and load up, which was a problem prior to the Falklands landings. The LCU Mk.10 has a 7 man crew and can carry up to 120 Marines or alternatively 1 battle tank or 4 lorries. British assault ships also carry smaller LCVPs on davits to transport troops and light vehicles.

United States

LCU 1610, 1627 and 1646

Landing Craft Utility
LCU-1627 class
Class overview
Name: LCU 1610, 1627 and 1646 classes
Operators:  United States Navy
Active: 32[2]
General characteristics
Displacement: 200 long tons (203 t) light
375 long tons (381 t) full load
Length: 134 ft 11 in (41.12 m)
Beam: 29 ft (8.8 m)
Draft: 3 ft 6 in (1.07 m) forward, full load
6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) aft, full load
Propulsion: 2 × Detroit 12V-71 diesel engines
2 × shafts
680 hp (507 kW) sustained
Kort nozzles
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)[2]
Range: 1,200 nmi (2,200 km) at 8 kn (15 km/h)
Endurance: 10 days[2]
Capacity: 125 tons of cargo, trucks, tanks, 350 troops or 400 passengers
Complement: 10
Sensors and
processing systems:
LN 66 or SPS-53 I band navigation radar
Armament: 2 × 12.7 mm machine guns

The LCU 1610, 1627 and 1646 class vessels are operated by the United States Navy. They are a self-sustaining craft complete with living accommodations and messing facilities for a crew of thirteen.[2] They have been adapted for many uses including salvage operations, ferry boats for vehicles and passengers, and underwater test platforms. Each LCU is assigned a non-commissioned-officer-in-charge (NCOIC) (Craft Master) who is either a Chief Petty Officer or Petty Officer First Class in the Boatswain’s Mate, Quartermaster or Operations Specialist rating. These vessels have bow ramps for onload/offload, and can be linked bow to stern gate to create a temporary pier-like structure. Its welded steel hull provides high durability with deck loads of 800 pounds per square foot. Arrangement of machinery and equipment has taken into account built-in redundancy in the event of battle damage. The craft features two engine rooms separated by a watertight bulkhead to permit limited operation in the event that one engine room is disabled. An anchor system is installed on the starboard side aft to assist in retracting from the beach. These vessels are normally transported to their areas of operation onboard larger amphibious vessels such as LHDs and LHAs. The 40-year-old craft will be replaced under the Surface Connector (X) Recapitalization, or SC(X)R, project starting in FY2017.[2]

LCU 2000

Landing Craft Utility
LCU-2000 class
Class overview
Name: LCU 2000 class
Operators: U.S. Army
General characteristics
Displacement: 575 long tons (584 t) light
1,087 long tons (1,104 t) full load
Length: 174 ft (53 m)
Beam: 42 ft (13 m)
Draft: 9 ft (2.7 m) light
8 ft (2.4 m) loaded
4 ft (1.2 m) beaching draft at the bow
Range: 10,000 nmi (19,000 km) at 12 kn (22 km/h) light
6,500 nmi (12,000 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h) loaded
Capacity: 350 short tons (318 t) (15 C-141 loads)
3 × M1 main battle tanks or 12 × (24 double-stacked) 20-foot (6 m) ISO containers
Complement: 13

The Runnymede class large landing craft or LCU 2000 class vessels are operated by the United States Army.[3][4] They transport rolling and tracked vehicles, containers, and outsized and general cargo from ships offshore to shore, as well as to areas that cannot be reached by oceangoing vessels (coastal, harbor, and intercoastal waterways). It can be self-deployed or transported aboard a float-on/float-off vessel. It is classed for full ocean service and one-man engine room operations and is built to U.S. Coast Guard standards. The vessel can sustain a crew of 2 warrant officers and 11 enlisted personnel for up to 18 days, and 10,000 miles. This class is also equipped with an aft anchor to assist in retracting from the beach.

LCU 2000 being loaded as deck cargo on a chartered vessel.

In literature

Cap'n Fatso is the second book in a series of three by Daniel V. Gallery that feature Boatswains Mate First Class John "Fatso" Gioninni. Fatso is the commander of an LCU that, while on a special supply errand for his LSD's captain, is left behind in the Mediterranean Sea when the whole Sixth Fleet unexpectedly leaves for Vietnam. Through a series of accidents and misunderstandings Fatso and his crew are left without orders or attachment to any fleet and decide to "search the Mediterranean Sea for the Sixth Fleet". Hilarity ensues when they play practical jokes on the Russian fleet and make an "official" visit to Israel during the Six-Day War.[5]


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