US Army Vessels
The invisible fleet
The US Navy operates the world’s largest navy fleet. The US Coast Guard operates the world’s largest coast guard fleet. Unbeknownst to many, the United States Army operates what is undoubtedly the world’s largest fleet of army vessels. The Army has operated its own vessels since its founding, there not being a US Navy at that time. The Navy rightfully concentrates on combatant ships and ships that directly support the combatant fleet. The Army concentrates its fleet activities on supply and logistics. It owns and operates a number of Logistics Support Vessels (LSVs), including roll-on, roll-off vessels for carriage of cargo and/or equipment throughout a theater of operations or on inter-theater routes not otherwise serviced by the Military Sealift Command. The 273-foot long LSVs can deliver Abrams M-1 tanks and other heavy cargo to unimproved ports and beaches at a distance of up to 6,500 miles. Much more numerous are its traditional landing craft. The Army also operates various tugs, one floating machine shop, and six floating cranes (with lifting capacity of up to 115 tons). The Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo (LARC) vessel, like its predecessor the DUKW, provides critical capability to place beach preparation equipment ashore. The Army also operates a number of floating causeway systems to provide the essential interface between Army lighterage and the shore. Up through World War II, the Army operated a broad range of non-combatant vessels, including tankers and cargo vessels designed to support front-line troops. These were largely transferred to the Navy upon the establishment of the Department of Defense. The Army, though, has never fully forgotten its maritime heritage. There is a separate Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) for soldier-mariners, serving in the enlisted and warrant officer ranks.