This week's Flashback Friday looks at the first LCS, the Landing Craft Support, Large. The LCS(L) was developed soon after the Battle of Tarawa, when shortcomings were found in the Navy's ability for close fire support for amphibious landings.
The LCS(L) carried an armament of a 1 3"/50 gun and twin 40mm cannon on the bow and a twin 40mm cannon on the stern. Along with 4 20mm cannons and 4 12.7mm machine guns scattered thoughout the ship. The LCS(L)s were a small ship with a displacement of 250 tons, a length of a 48.5m, a beam of 7m, and a draft of 2m. While they were small, the LCS(L)s were large enough to cross the open ocean on their own, albiet slowly with a top speed of 16.5 knots with a range of 8000km.
The LCS(L)s fought in the liberation of the Philippines, at Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Borneo among others. The photo above shows LCS(L)(3)-8 off the coast of Corregidor in 1945, Later as the war progressed, after amphibious landing, the LCS(L)s were pressed into service as radar picket ships used to spot incoming air raids. LCS(L)s were also used on "skunk patrols" to watch for Japanese suicide boats attempting to attack landing areas. After WWII the surviving LCS(L)s were transferred to navies of France, Japan, Thailand, and Greece among others.
As of 2012, out of 130 LCS(L)s only one has survived, LCS(L)-102, which at the end of WWII was transferred to Japan who later transferred it to Thailand. In Thai service she was renamed HTMS Nakha, and served a patrol boat from 1966 to 2007 when she was given back to the U.S. to be used a museum ship.
The LCS(L) was an example of a type of ship that was meant to fill a gap, and was cheap, expendable, and could be mass produced. The LCS(L) had her origins in several makeshift solutions for close in fire support in the South Pacific, including the modification of Higgins boats to carry several machine guns, among others. Later on Navy brass took notice and built on that concept, and produced the LCS(L). The LCS(L) packed a large punch into a small hull, and was easy to maintain and operate. Today the LCS designation has been assigned to the Littoral Combat Ship which has a number of shortcomings, and is a poor successor to the LCS(L). Either way one looks at the LCS(L) it was a excellent ship, and performed it's mission well, and was an excellent patrol craft after the war. They were truly, to quote the men who served on them, the "Mighty Midgets".
For a more in-depth profile I highly recommend a post done on the same subject by XBRADTC over at Bring the heat, Bring the stupid.
Photo Credit: U.S. Navy and NavSource Photo Archives