In blast from the past, the Army just bought the new generation of Higgins boats

A new generation of beach-storming landing craft will soon be helping GIs land on enemy shores – but unlike those used in the Normandy invasion, this version will be driven by soldiers.

In what may seem like a blast from the past, the Army just awarded a $1 billion contract to an Oregon company to build the so-called “Maneuver Support Vessel (Light)” for its soldiers of the future.

According to a report by Defense News, Vigor, a shipbuilding company in Oregon, won the contract to replace the Army’s old force of Landing Craft Mechanized 8 (LCM-8) vessels, also known as “Mike Boats.” According to the 16th Edition of the Naval Institute’s Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, the United States Army had 44 LCM-8s on hand.

LCM-8s deliver cargo and vehicles to the beach. (US Army photo)

The Army’s current landing craft are about 73 feet long and can go about 150 miles, and have a crew of four. The vessels are capable of hauling just under 55 tons, according to a United States Navy fact sheet. They can reach a top speed of nine knots when loaded.

The new Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) will be about 100 feet long, and able to reach speeds of up to 18 knots. Cargo options will include two Strykers, an M1A2 Abrams tank, or four Joint Light Tactical Vehicles with trailers.

Troops board a LCM-8. (US Army photo)

An Army release noted that the vessels will be used to support “intra-theater transportation of personnel and materiel.” The vessels will help transport supplies and personnel in areas where ports are either degraded or denied, and to assist in bringing supplies ashore from prepositioned sealift vessels.

“Watercraft are not something we buy very often, but they are essential to meeting Army-unique maneuver requirements,” Scott Davis the Army’s program executive officer, Combat Support and Combat Service Support said. The Army plans to buy 36 of these new vessels by the end of 2027.