How to Launch an LCT
By Harry Allston, (USN, 1944)
Served on LCT's in WWII. ETO, Anzio, Southern France.
Most LCTs where transported on top of an LST
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 Mediterranean Sea. 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 turn buckles. 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 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 enjoy the ride. After all, we said, a captain goes down with his ship.
The crew was in the water on one of the LCVP' s, ready to board, hoist the ensign, and start the engines.
An added note. Our LCT (647) was shipped to the Pacific in (3), yes, three sections. When we arrived in Pearl Harbor the LCT was unloaded by a portable crane. It was ingenious that all sections floated in a position whereas they matched each other.
Though 'tilted' they were in a position to be assembled. We, the crew assembled the LCT. A material gasket was placed between the two sections. Very large bolts and nuts were used to bolt the sections together.
Each section was positioned so the first bolt on each outside corner could be inserted. ALL bolts across the bottom of the hull were placed. Slowly each bolt was tightened and as the hull started to come together another bolt and nut was placed on each side. This continued and the two sections were then bolted to the third section in the same manner. We had no instructions on how this was to be done.
If we had known that one of the sections that was joined, was to be our "fresh water" tank, we might have taken better precautions. We drank slightly tainted 'salt water' for the duration.
Want to add that I took my 'boot' at Sampson from 12-8-1943 to 2-?-1944. Was transferred to a amphibious base ???. Sent by train, to Tonawanda, NY where we picked up LCT 1019 and sailed it down the Erie Canal to Camp Bradford, VA. What an experience.
So much more I could tell but so little time.