THE NAVY-MARINE CORPS TEAM
An amphibious assault is one of the most complex operations in modern warfare. Success requires perfect teamwork between everyone participating. The ideal team for this kind of action is the Navy's Amphibious Force and the Marine Corp's Fleet Marine Force.
Amphibious warfare isn't new. History's first amphibious task force was probably a fleet of dugout canoes and rafts that transported a band of prehistoric warriors across a river to attack an enemy village.
This has always been the basic mission of the amphibious force: "To transfer sizeable forces of fighting men and their heavy war-making equipment from sea to shore in order to initiate a sustained land action against an enemy.
Before World War II amphibious tactics were crude. Soldiers were simply loaded into ships for transportation to an enemy shore. If they were lucky they landed unopposed and could start their fighting on land. More often than not, however, they were met at the water's edge by determined defenders who had all the advantage over the luckless men wading ashore or climbing over the sides of heavy boats.
The United States became seriously interested in amphibious warfare tactics in 1935 when two "Fleet Marine Forces" were formed and specially trained for amphibious warfare. At the same time the Navy began building ships and boats designed specifically for amphibious landings.
The planning and training begun by the Navy and Marine Corps in 1935 paid off in the war that followed. During World War II American forces conducted 67 significant amphibious assaults, not one of which failed to achieve its objectives. In fact, every major drive made by U. S. forces in the war began with an amphibious assault, beginning with Guadalcanal in 1942, in the Mediterranean, the North Sea and ending with Okinawa in 1945. By the end of the war America had the most powerful amphibious warfare capability in the world. She has never lost this lead.
Modern amphibious operations are quite different from their historical predecessors. First of all, naval forces in a modern amphibious operation have an important combat role as well as a transportation role. Gunfire and rocket fire from Navy ships and carrier aircraft substantially reduce enemy defenses before the first troops ever land. Secondly, troops that engage in modern amphibious operations are highly trained just for that role.
Marines of the Fleet Marine Force are not merely soldiers transported to their battleground by ship. They are as much "at home" aboard their ships as they are ashore. They know how to fight using gun and missile power from Navy ships and air power from carrier aircraft to aid them in taking their objectives. Groups such as the "Frogmen" of the Navy's Underwater Demolition Teams and the "Seabees" of the Amphibious Construction Battalions are highly trained in skills unique to amphibious warfare.
Lastly, ships, landing craft and weapons have been developed especially for amphibious operations. Landing ships that purposely run aground, unload troops and equipment, then free themselves and return to the sea; helicopter carriers designed to carry Marines to the beach, then send them behind enemy lines by helicopter; armored landing craft that move through water, then over the beach and deep inland before discharging their troops - all are part of the modern amphibious arsenal.
New craft, like the "hydro-skimmer" that literally flies at high speeds on a cushion of air over water and land are being experimented with today. Who knows what the "amphibs" of tomorrow will need to accomplish their objectives? It will be there when it's needed - count on it.
The USS CHILTON (APA-38) nee the SS Sea Needle, sailed the Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean and Caribbean for over 30 years performing her amphibious duties, whether in training or on a strange beach or evacuating Americans exposed to danger, whenever the assignment, in every operation to which she was assigned CHILTON was always the proud flagship leading the way, and also leading a sort of charmed life. She will be forever remembered by all her officers and men, her trainee crews, her troops, her evacuees, her wounded patients, the anxious and grateful families at home, and a thankful Nation. She was and will always be proud of her Motto:
"Any Time - Any Beach!"
BRAVO ZULU - CHILTON