OKINAWA, Japan -- Not every day can someone say they have ridden in a hovercraft. Not long ago, the hovercraft was just a vehicle of fictional lore, but during a logistics training exercise, Marines and sailors with Shock Trauma Platoon, 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, discovered that the landing craft air cushion-class hovercraft is very much real.
Two hovercraft ferried the platoon, ten tactical vehicles and all equipment for a shock trauma treatment site, from White Beach to Kin Blue, Okinawa, Oct. 27, 2015. The hovercraft facilitated a logistics training event during Blue Chromite 2016, a large scale amphibious exercise led by 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
Navy Chief Petty Officer Philip E. Phillips, an LCAC pilot with Naval Beach Unit 7, said driving the hovercraft is like controlling an air hockey puck.
However, unlike an air hockey puck, a LCAC hovers by generating powerful air displacement. The LCAC can carry up to sixty tons and travel as fast as forty knots, according to Phillips, a native of Riverside, California.
Before today, most of the Marines had never seen the hovercraft in operation.
“For me personally and a lot of my Marines, this is our first time getting firsthand experience with the LCACs and doing this specific type of operation,” said Sgt. Russell S. Thompson, a landing support specialist with Combat Logistic Battalion 4, 3rd Marine Logistics Group. “I think the LCAC exponentially increases our capabilities.”
The presence of the hovercraft helped his Marines understand the importance of their role in the grander scheme of amphibious operations, according to Thompson.
“Having 7th Fleet nearby with their multitude of resources, including LCACs, absolutely increases the capability of our training and the amount of experience we’re able to achieve,” said Thompson, a native of Pullman, Washington.
Until the U.S. military patents teleportation, Thompson can expect more help from his Navy brethren during amphibious operations around the world.