War Machine, Volume 11

UK/USA Landing Ship Infantry (Large) (LSI(L))/Transport (AP) The Landing Ship Infantry (Large) or LSI(L) was used for the delivery of troops over distances too great for their embarkation and support in land­ing craft. Many were little more than basic conversions of passenger or car­ go/passenger liners but others were rebuilt for more specific purposes. Such were the trio of Glen Line ships (Glenearn Glengyle and Glenroy) converted in 1941 following initial ser­vice as stores carriers and commando ships These were new and powerful ships built for the Blue Funnel/Glen/ Shire services in the Far East and the conversion involved much subdivision of the cargo spaces into accommoda­tion for upwards of 1300 personnel. Sleeping was in the traditional ham­mock but mess spaces latrines wash places and general stowage had to be created together with space for such heavy equipment as had also to be put ashore. Extra sets of davits were instal­led for the stowage of 12 LCAs and two heavier LCMs were also carried on deck handled by the ships derricks, The ships were well armed com­mensurate with their high value origi­nally with eight 2-pdr pompoms but later with six 102-mm (4-in) AA guns, four 2-pdr guns and up to eight 20-mm Oerlikons. Despite heavy involve­ment for instance in Crete Syria Mal­ta and Dieppe none of the three was lost. There were three further sisters of these Breconshire of the Shire Line became briefly infamous her runs to Malta at the height of the siege until she was finally sunk Glengarry was a fourth Glen shipbuilding in Denmark The Empire Arquebus inbuilt the USA under the massive US maritime commission program m e and supplied under Lend-Lease. It was similar in many respects to the US Navy's ‘General and ‘Admiral’ classes and like them was used as an infantry transport. Landing Ship Headquarters (LSH) and Amphibious Force Flagship (AGC) Amphibious operations are ex­ceedingly complex and despite meti­culous planning and allowance for apparently adequate contingencies, everything that can go wrong will try togo wrong. Headquarters ships were devised to lie off the beach and control operations until a proper HQ could be setup ashore after which they could probably stay on as long as there was any requirement for naval support, Early practice was to employ a major warship in the role but suitably equip­ped ships were rare never had suf­ficient accommodation and were li­able to be called out to do some fighting. Not until 1942 were dedicated ships introduced: medium-sized mer­chantmen (with plenty of space for conversion) were selected and these were instantly recognizable by the variety of communications antennas that were added (and it was rumoured by the wine bottles floating around them). These ships handled a tremendous volume of signal traffic, the embarked staff being able to make rapid decisions on the spot to counter any problem as it arose. On occasion the Landing Ship Headquarters (LSH) even acted as an aircraft-direction ship a complex-enough task in itself and usually undertaken by a specialist Landing Ship Fighter Direction (LSF), with which it worked closely For ma­jor landings more than one LSH might be required and in any case a re­placement was a wise precaution par­ticularly when the enemy recognized their importance and singled them out for attention. HMS Bulolo was atypical British conversion starting as an armed mer­chant cruiser before doing aspell as an LSI As an LSH she saw service at Algiers in the Levant at Anzio and, finally at Normandy where she was damaged by bombing. Other large British conversions were HMS Hilary, Largs and Lothian. The American equivalent was the Amphibious Force Flagship (AGC) converted C2 and C3 hulls the former going to 17 units. For smaller operations the British modified eight assorted frigates and gunboats, the Americans preferring the more suitable long-endurance coastguard cutters which are available for regular naval use in time of war Specification HMS Bulolo Displacement: 9110 tons standard Dimensions: length 125.7 m (412.5 ft) beam 17.8 m (5825 ft) draught 6 6 m (21.7 ft) Propulsion: two diesels delivering 4698 kW (6300 bhp) to two shafts Performance: maximum speed 1 5 kts Armament: two twin 102-mm (4-in) AA, five single 40-mm AA and 14 single 20-mm AA guns Capacity: as an LSI(L) six LCP(L)s and 258 troops '\.Complement: 264. HMS Hilary inbuilt 1931 as a cargo- liner spent the first part of the war as an ocean boarding vessel. She was converted into a headquarters ship in 1943 being fitted with the complex communication systems required to control an amphibious landing. Formerly a liner the USS Ancon was overtaken in 1942 as a transport but soon became an amphibious force flagship with the US Navy. She was used as an HQ ship at the Sicily landings Salerno Normandy and Okinawa and was present at the t Japanese surrender at Tokyo Bay. 2402
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