…A Wooden boat!
The World War II (WWII) Museum was founded in New Orleans in 2000, and, in 2003, designated the official national museum of WWII by the U.S. Congress. Major expansions were completed in 2013 and 2014 that helped bring the museum to national attention. In 2016, my friend and I, both veterans, began planning a visit to the museum—that visit was just completed this February (2017).
The first question that came to mind, “Why New Orleans?”
The answer is the “Higgins Boat,” or “landing craft, vehicle, personnel” (LCVP). Based on a flat-bottomed boat designed by Andrew Higgins that was used in the swamps and marshes of coastal Louisiana, the LCVP could pull up to a beach in shallow water—two feet at the bow—and deliver 36 combat-equipped soldiers onto a beach, back away and return to the troop carrier for more troops. During WWII, more than 20,000 LCVPs were built by Higgins Industries and other builders licensed by Higgins.
Allied Supreme Commander, General Dwight Eisenhower, later President Eisenhower, explained southern Louisiana’s contribution to the successful war effort: “Andrew Higgins … is the man who won the war for us. … If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVPs, we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would have been different”
Constructed largely of plywood, the shallow-draft, barge-like boat could ferry a platoon of 36 men to shore at 10-12 knots (11-13 mph). The troops exited by charging down the boat’s bow ramp. The boat was more than 36 feet long and 10 feet wide. It was powered by a 225 hp diesel engine or 250 hp gasoline engine. Each boat had a crew of four including the pilot or Coxswain, an engineer, and two gunners. It could be armed with two Browning 30 caliber machine guns mounted in the aft of the boat.