How to Launch an LCT
George Gross (LST 794)
When you want to put an LCT onto an LST, you need a crane. No problem because you are probably in a shipyard.
. . . But, when you want to get it off, you are probably in the South Pacific. No cranes for hire.
So what do you do?
Whoever had the idea to put an LCT on an LST had it all thought out and gave the LST an instruction book. I give that unknown genius a great deal of credit. The LCT is not resting on the deck, but on a series of wooden skids about 10" square and longer than the beam of the LCT. Both the skids and the LCT are lashed down with cables and turnbuckles. When you want to launch, you flood tanks on one side and pump tanks on the other to create a list. We did it to starboard. When you have the proper degree of list ( I don't remember how many degrees), you grease the skids. release all cables except one which has a special hook on it. ( I don't remember the name of the hook, but it is hinged and held closed with a ring.) You take a sledge hammer to bang off the ring, stand back to avoid the flying cable, and away she goes! When she hits the water she creates a huge splash between the LCT and the LST. This serves as a cushion to prevent any damage.
I would like to say that the LCT crew were on board their craft for the launching, but that would be pushing it. Prior to launching we had a great deal of fun with the LCT skipper encouraging him to to enjoy the ride. After all, we said, a captain goes down with his ship.
More than likely we had the crew in the water on one of our LCVP' s, ready to board, hoist the ensign, and start the engines.
I remember some radio traffic from an LCT group commander giving hell to LCT skippers: "Don't report that your engine has crapped out. That doesn't help me at all. Instead tell me what is wrong and how long it will take to fix. Don't you guys know anything?"
To see a short animation of LCT 982 being launched off of LST 274, click the image below.
This animation is about 500K in size and takes about six minutes to load on a 28.8K modem.
(Once it loads, it runs pretty smoothly)
With Great Thanks to Rich Fox and his LCT site
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