Watercraft Categories, Watercraft Units and Equipment


Soldier-Mariners of the Transportation Corps crew United States Army Watercraft providing the foundation for theater opening and reception of Army and joint forces committed in advancing the national military strategy and are an integral part of Force XXI for projecting and sustaining combat power. Waterborne logistics delivers 90 percent of all unit equipment and supplies of U.S. forces. Army watercraft - lighterage and floating utility craft (landing craft, amphibians, modular causeways and harbor craft) - provide the critical link between offshore arrival of combat power loaded aboard strategic sealift ships and placing that power ashore in a ready-to- fight configuration. Army watercraft are prepared to deploy at any time, to any location, to fulfill the objectives of this strategy.

Watercraft Categories:

Watercraft fall into two categories, lighterage and floating utility. These two categories are defined according to the mission they perform.


Lighterage are craft used to transport equipment, cargo and personnel between ships, from ship-to-shore or for intra-theater transport. Lighterage are further classified into conventional displacement (landing craft), amphibious (wheeled), or modular causeway systems (powered ferry).

Floating Utility craft

Floating Utility craft perform operations incidental to water terminal operations, except lighterage service. Watercraft in this category are harbor and ocean going tugs, pusher tugs, floating cranes, barges, floating machine shops, floating causeway and Roll-On/Roll-Off (RO/RO) discharge facilities (RRDF).

Army Watercraft Units and Their Equipment:

Logistics Support Vessel (LSV) Detachments

Logistics Support Vessel (LSV) Detachments carry cargo and/or equipment throughout a theater of operations or inter-theater routes not otherwise serviced by the Military Sealift Command (MSC). LSV Detachments also assist in RO/RO or Logistics-Over-The-Shore (LOTS) operations, particularly with container handling equipment, vehicular and other over-size/overweight cargo. LSV specifics: landing craft, length overall 273 feet, beam 60 feet, bow ramp, stern ramp, loaded draft 12 feet, payload 2,000 tons (equivalent to 86 C-141s), range 6,500 nautical miles, speed loaded 11.5 knots.

Heavy Boat Companies

The task watercraft is the Landing Craft Utility (LCU). Unit LCUs transport personnel, containers, vehicles, and outsize cargo in offshore discharg operations. The heavy boat company also augments lighterage in a port or harbor, in inland or coastal waters, or between islands. The company also provides lighterage service required in joint amphibious or other waterborne tactical operations. LCU specifics: landing craft, length overall 174 feet, beam 42 feet, bow ramp, loaded draft 9 feet, payload 350 tons (equivalent to 15 C 141s), range 6,500 nautical miles, speed loaded 10 knots.

Medium Boat Companies

The task watercraft is the Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM). Unit LCMs transport personnel and cargo in Army water terminal operations and water-borne tactical operations. It also augments naval craft in joint amphibious or other waterborne tactical operations. LCM specifics: landing craft, length overall 74 feet, beam 21 feet, bow ramp loaded draft 5 feet, payload 53 tons (equivalent to 2 C 141s), range 271 nautical miles, speed loaded 9 knots.

Amphibian Detachments

The task craft is the Lighter, Amphibious, Resupply, Cargo (LARC). LARCs provide the Army's only amphibious lighterage service primarily for heavy, outsize or bulky equipment. Provides critical capability to place beach preparation equipment ashore. LARC specifics: wheeled amphibian, length overall 63 feet, beam 27 feet, bow ramp payload 60 tons (equivalent to 2 C 141s), range 150 statute miles at 14 mph (land) and 75 nautical miles at 6 knots (water).

Floating Craft Companies

Floating Craft Companies are capable of heavy tows within a harbor area or limited offshore towing between terminals, berthing and unberthing ocean going vessels and heavy lifts beyond the capability of ship's gear. The task craft are the 128 foot large tug (LT), small (or pusher) tug (ST), floating cranes, and dry and liquid cargo barges.

Causeway Companies

Causeway Companies provide the Army with the capability to transfer cargo between ships or from ship to shore. Causeway systems provide the essential interface between Army lighterage and RO/RO ships. The task craft are RO/RO Discharge Facility (RRDF), causeway ferries (CF), and floating causeways (FC).

Floating Craft Maintenance Companies

Floating Craft Maintenance Companies provide in theater general support maintenance to all types of Army water-craft. The floating machine shop (FMS) provides maintenance and repair parts support.

This page last updated: August 26, 2021