14 photos that show what life is like on Army boats
Army mariners are a rare breed — soldiers who spend most of their time out on the water, sometimes even transiting open oceans like sailors or something.
While the Army’s boat program is relatively unknown outside of the service, it fills a crucial role in military logistics, allowing commanders to ferry supplies along coastlines and up and down rivers — even when there is little or no Navy support. Here are 14 photos that give a glimpse into the life of Army watercraft operators:
1. Mariners have to train for special emergencies that the rest of the Army rarely thinks about, like man overboard or a capsized vessel.
2. Watercraft operators and other mariners can be assigned to a number of different ships, but logistics vessels like these Landing Craft Utility 2000s are the most common.
3. The LCU 2000s, Logistics Support Vessels, and other craft are designed to deploy heavy Army equipment to unimproved beaches.
4. Different vessel types have different lift capabilities, and the largest can carry over a dozen M1 tanks per lift.
5. While the boats are made to operate in as little water as possible — 12 feet for the LSV and as little as five feet for the Landing Craft, Mechanized 8 — most of them are capable of crossing open ocean when necessary.
6. The boys in blue may look like Coast Guardsmen, but they’re actually the soldiers who crew these small vessels.
7. Watercraft engineers maintain the boats. Because there are no specialty fields for watercraft engineers, they have to learn the ins and outs of each vessel type.
8. Watercraft operators pilot the ships and work the decks. Other soldiers, like medics and cooks, are also assigned to Army vessel crews.
9. Most of the boats have ramps that allow vehicles to be driven on and off.
10. But cranes are often used to move pallets and machines onto and off of the vessels.
11. Everything from Humvees to tankers to armored vehicles can be loaded this way.
12. In addition to the sealift vessels, the Army maintains a small fleet of tugboats and engineering vessels like dredges and cranes.
13. The Army’s watercraft are deployed all around the globe, supporting operations from the American coast to the Middle East and Asia.
14. Just remember, the crews are soldiers and mariners, not sailors or Marines.
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