Landing Craft Infantry
The Landing craft
Landing craft
Landing craft are boats and seagoing vessels used to convey a landing force from the sea to the shore during an amphibious assault. Most renowned are those used to storm the beaches of Normandy, the Mediterranean, and many Pacific islands during WWII...

, Infantry
or LCI were several classes of sea-going amphibious assault ship
Amphibious assault ship
An amphibious assault ship is a type of amphibious warfare ship employed to land and support ground forces on enemy territory by an amphibious assault...

s of the Second World War utilized to land large numbers of infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 directly onto beaches. They were developed in response to a British request for a vessel capable of carrying and landing substantially more troops than the wooden Landing Craft Assault
Landing Craft Assault
The Landing Craft Assault was a British landing craft used extensively in World War II. Its primary purpose was to ferry troops from transport ships to attack enemy-held shores. The craft derived from a prototype designed by John I. Thornycroft Ltd. During the war it was manufactured throughout...

 (LCA). The result was a small steel ship that could land 200 troops, traveling from rear bases on its own bottom at a speed of up to 15 knots. Some 923 were built starting in 1943, serving in both the Pacific and European theaters, including a number that were converted into heavily armed beach assault support ships. Commonly called "Elsie Items," the LCI filled a niche between the small LCAs/LCVPs and the larger Landing Ship Tank (LST).


In 1942 the British concluded that a larger landing craft was needed than their Landing Craft Assault (LCA) which could carry only 35 troops to the shore. The LCI(L) was designed to carry 200 troops at up to 15 knots and be as capable at landing as the LCA. Since a steel hull would be needed and steel was already earmarked for building destroyers at home the U.S was approached. There the plans were developed into the LCI(L) - Landing Craft Infantry (Large). The original British design was envisioned as being a "one time use" vessel which would simply ferry the troops across the English Channel, and were considered an expendable vessel. As such, no troop sleeping accommodations were placed in the original design. The troops were provided benches (similar to a ferry) upon which to sit while they were transported across the channel. This was changed shortly after initial use of these ships, when it was discovered that many missions would require overnight accommodations. The US was able to come up with an easily-built and mass produced design by using non-traditional shipbuilding facilities and equipment. The US established LCI building yards at ten different locations.


There were 3 major types of LCI(L) which differed mostly by the location of the ramps and by the shape of the conning tower. All of these ships had similar hulls. The hull of all LCI(L) were 158 feet long with a 23 foot beam, making them relatively long and narrow. All LCI(L) were similarly powered with two 6-71 "Quad" Diesel Engines made by Detroit Diesel. These engines were a wartime expedient design that utilized existing and readily available engines (GM 6-71) adapted to create a propulsion source. Each propeller shaft was powered by 4 engines joined together using individual drive clutches. (Hence the name "Quad Diesel") If a single engine were to fail, the broken engine could be disconnected from the unit via its clutch and repaired while still operating the other 3 engines. Each of the two propellers was a reversible pitch propeller, which allowed the propeller shaft to spin only in one direction for either ahead or astern operation. This, coupled with the use of a stern anchor which was dropped as the ship approached the beach, was used to pull the ship off the beach after the troops had disembarked.

The 3 major LCI(L) types are normally referred to as:
a) Square Conn, Side Ramp (the original style)
b) Round Conn, Side Ramp
c) Round Conn, Bow Ramp

On LCI(L)1-349 class, (Square Conn, Side Ramps) the deck was wider than the prow and two gangways on either side of the bow led onto a pair of ramps that were lowered, and down which troops would disembark. The LCI 350 class had a single enclosed bow ramp with 2 bow doors that swung open. The reason for moving the ramp to the inside was to provide some protection for the troops as they disembarked to the beach, if only by concealing them from enemy sights. Also, the low, squared-off conning tower was upgraded on later models (LCI(L)350 and higher) with a taller, round conning tower which afforded slightly more visibility from the bridge.

The steepness and narrowness of either type of bow ramps made the LCI impractical for landing troops as part of an initial assault against a defended beach, and they were sometimes reserved for the follow-up waves, after the LCA or LCPL boats had landed. However, they were included in the first waves at numerous invasions such as Anzio, Normandy, Southern France, Elba, Saipan, the Philippines, Iwo Jima, Guam, and Okinawa.


LCI(L) were armed originally with 4 to 5 20mm Oerlikon Automatic Cannons. Each gun was mounted inside of a round gun tub with an integral splinter shield. As the war progressed, several LCI(L) were modified into LCI Gunboats. These gunboats, called LCI(G) had 3 of their forward mounted 20mm Oerlikon cannons removed and replaced with heavier single barrel 40mm Bofors cannons. Also, several LCI(L) had various types of Rocket Launcher Racks added in place of their Side Ramps and inside their well decks. These ships were sometimes designated as LCI(R) for Rocket Ships. Still other LCI(L) were modified to carry three 4.2 inch Heavy Mortars. These were disgnated as LCI(M).

Service history

The first LCI(L)s entered service in 1943 chiefly with the Royal Navy (RN) and United States Navy. Early models were capable of carrying 180 troops, this was increased to 210 later. Craft in service with the two navies had some variation according to national preferences. Some 923 LCI were built in ten American shipyards and 211 provided under lend-lease to the Royal Navy. In Royal Navy service they were known as "HM LCI(L)-(pennant number)". In 1945, 25 were provided by the United States to the Soviet Union.

In use, the LCI fleet was utilized for numerous missions. One important use was for smoke laying to obscure the invading fleet from enemy artillery or aircraft. Still others were used to provide close-in gunfire support to the troops who had just landed on the beach. In one such episode, eight LCI(G) were used two days prior to the invasion of Iwo Jima to protect UDT
Underwater Demolition Team
The Underwater Demolition Teams were an elite special-purpose force established by the United States Navy during World War II. They also served during the Korean War and the Vietnam War...

 insertion and beach mapping teams. They were mistaken by the Japanese defenders as the main invasion, and were fired upon by numerous previously hidden large caliber coastal defense artillery, (up to 8 inch). Three of these LCI(G) were sunk and all were damaged. Lt.(j.g) Rufus G. Herring
Rufus G. Herring
Rufus Geddie Herring was a United States Naval Reserve officer and a recipient of America's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.-Biography:...

 (CO LCI Force) received the Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...

 for this action.

In another instance, Lt. Alec Guinness
Alec Guinness
Sir Alec Guinness, CH, CBE was an English actor. He was featured in several of the Ealing Comedies, including Kind Hearts and Coronets in which he played eight different characters. He later won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai...

 RNVR made numerous trips as the Commanding Officer of HMS LCI(L)-124 delivering troops to the beach near Cape Passero lighthouse on 9 July 1943 during the Allied invasion of Sicily
Allied invasion of Sicily
The Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, was a major World War II campaign, in which the Allies took Sicily from the Axis . It was a large scale amphibious and airborne operation, followed by six weeks of land combat. It launched the Italian Campaign.Husky began on the night of...

. He missed the call from his commander to delay the landing and went on to land 25 minutes ahead of the rest of the LCI Flotilla. As he was returning from the beach empty, he was rebuked by his Flotilla Commander, who thought he was deserting from the fight, when he informed the Commander he was on his way back to get more troops after having already landed once.

Most LCI(L)s were struck from service by both the RN and the USN in 1946, and were put into reserve, sold, scrapped, or used as target ships. The United States also transferred LCI(L)s to Argentina (15), Chile (6), Republic of China (13), France (14), Indonesia (7), Israel (2), Korea (1), Thailand (2), Dominican Republic (3), and the Philippines (3).

In February 1949, the U.S. reclassified the remaining LCIs as "Landing Ship Infantry" (LSI). Landing Ship Infantry was a term that had been used during the war since around 1941 by the British for various vessels such as converted ferries and passenger ships that could carry 800–1,800 troops close to shore, the final transfer being by smaller boats.[1]


As with the Landing craft tank
Landing craft tank
The Landing Craft, Tank was an amphibious assault ship for landing tanks on beachheads. They were initially developed by the British Royal Navy and later by the United States Navy during World War II in a series of versions. Initially known as the "Tank Landing Craft" by the British, they later...

, the LCI(L) was used as the basis of a number of conversions into specialist vessels.

LCI(G) - Gunboat

Two or sometimes three 40 mm guns, six .50-caliber (12.7mm) machine guns and ten Mk.7 rocket launchers were added to the existing armament to provide close-in fire support for landings. This variant was used for the basis of the LCS(L) class of Landing Craft Support ships. The same hull was used and more armament was added, but the troop carrying capability was removed.

LCI(M) - Mortar

Equipped with a dismountable 4.2 in mortar
Mortar (weapon)
A mortar is an indirect fire weapon that fires explosive projectiles known as bombs at low velocities, short ranges, and high-arcing ballistic trajectories. It is typically muzzle-loading and has a barrel length less than 15 times its caliber....

 for naval use and amphibious deployment.

LCI(R) - Rocket

A platform for six 5-inch rocket launchers. This platform was rather unsophisticated as the rocket launchers were fixed to the deck, and so the ship had to be maneuvered to aim them. When fired the crew had to take shelter below decks to escape the blast of the rocket engines.


At the same time as the LCI(L) was handed over for US development and production, the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 reworked their need for a raiding vessel into something that could be produced natively without making demands on limited resources. Fairmile Marine
Fairmile Marine
Fairmile Marine was a British boat building company founded in 1939 by the car manufacturer Noel Macklin.Macklin used the garage at his home at Cobham Fairmile in Surrey for manufacturing assembly which is why the boats he designed came to be called Fairmiles....

 had already designed a number of small military vessels that were built in wood and they produced the Fairmile Type H
Fairmile H landing craft
The Fairmile H Landing Craft were British landing craft of the Second World War. Initially designed for commando type raids from a base in Britain as a way of probing enemy defenses and tying down additional troops, some were converted into fire support vessels.Two variants were developed:The...

 which was another prefabricated wooden design. This was taken on as the Landing Craft Infantry (Small) or LCI(S).
One Fairmile "H" still survives a veteran of D-Day and the costly assault on Walcheren, it is a houseboat on the River Adur, Shoreham by sea West Sussex,England.


The Landing Craft Support (Large) ("LCS(L) Mark 1" or "LCS(L) Mark 2") was based on the LCI(S) hull, and were built by the United Kingdom, intended for use as a support vessel providing additional firepower. The Mk.1 carried a tank turret complete with its QF 2 pounder gun
Ordnance QF 2 pounder
The Ordnance QF 2-pounder was a British anti-tank and vehicle-mounted gun, employed in the Second World War. It was actively used in the Battle of France, and during the North Africa campaign...

, but for the Mk.2 this was replaced with a turret mounting the QF 6 pounder gun
Ordnance QF 6 pounder
The Ordnance Quick-Firing 6-pounder 7 cwt, or just 6 pounder, was a British 57 mm gun, their primary anti-tank gun during the middle of World War II, as well as the main armament for a number of armoured fighting vehicles...

. To this was added two Oerlikon 20 mm cannon
Oerlikon 20 mm cannon
The Oerlikon 20 mm cannon is a series of autocannons, based on an original design by Reinhold Becker of Germany, very early in World War I, and widely produced by Oerlikon Contraves and others...

 and two 0.5 inch Vickers machine guns. Ten were built in all.


The Landing Craft Support (Large) or "LCS(L) Mark 3" was built by the United States. These ships were built on a standard LCI hull, but were modified to add gunfire support equipment and accommodation. They were armed with a single 3"/50 caliber gun and/or two twin 40 mm cannon and numerous 20 mm cannon. These ships were prevalent in most major Pacific Theater invasions beginning in late 1944. The type was reclassified as Landing Ship Support, Large (LSSL) in 1949. One hundred and thirty of this type were built.

Surviving LCIs

There are several LCIs that still survive and are available to be seen by the public.

The , (a round conn, bow ramp) is located in Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

 near the I-5 Bridge over the Columbia River. It is currently owned and being restored by a non-profit 501c3 group, the "Amphibious Forces Memorial Museum". After having been built in September, 1944 at Geo. Lawley and Son Shipyard in Neponset, Massachusetts
Neponset, Massachusetts
Neponset, Massachusetts is a district in the southeast corner of Dorchester, Massachusetts which is the most populous neighborhood of Boston....

, (a suburb of Boston) the ship was transferred to the Pacific Theatre. The LCI-713 saw action in making two assault landings. The first assault landing took place at Zamboanga
Zamboanga (province)
Zamboanga is a former province of the Philippines located in the western region of the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.-Creation:During the time of the United States' purchase of the Philippines of 1898, the Republic of Zamboanga had its own independence and jurisdiction on what is now...

, Philippines in March 1945 carrying US 41st Division troops. The second assault landing occurred at Brunei Bay
Brunei Bay
Brunei Bay is the gateway to Brunei and Borneo. It is located 4°45'-5°02'N, 114°58'-115°10'E; east of Bandar Seri Begawan. The Brunei portion of the bay is in two sections separated by a finger of Sarawak about 6km wide at the coast...

, Borneo
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located north of Java Island, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia....

 in June 1945 landing Australian 9th Division troops.
The 713 was purchased as war surplus by Smith's Tugboat Transportation Co of Stephenson, Washington, circa 1955. From there, it was found to be underpowered for the intended purpose of being a log hauling tugboat and so her engines were removed. Then the ship was relegated to a floating storage hulk in Stephenson WA until the late 1950s when it was abandoned and sank into the river mud on the shore of the Columbia river. In the late 1970s the ship was finally refloated by Mr Art Raz, who then began restoration on the ship. Since those beginnings, the LCI(L)713 has changed ownership until finally sold to the AFMM in 2003. The LCI(L) 713 has been continually restored with the goal of becoming a historically correct operating museum vessel. At the present time, the 713 has no engines, and is also in need of drydocking to replace corroded bottom plating. The restoration team has made great efforts to restore the interior details and exterior appearance, and in October 2008 obtained two new Detroit Diesel 12V71 engines for eventual repowering of the ship.

Another survivor is (also a round conn, bow ramp). Moored in Eureka, California
Eureka, California
Eureka is the principal city and the county seat of Humboldt County, California, United States. Its population was 27,191 at the 2010 census, up from 26,128 at the 2000 census....

, she is owned and operated by the Humboldt Bay Air & Sea Museum. The ship was used in the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 in 1951-1953 as an "Infectious Disease Control Ship". Her interior was modified to accommodate a larger crew that included 10 Medical Doctors and Lab Technicians. In the late 1950s the ship was sold as surplus for use as an Alaskan fishing vessel. 30 years later, the 1091 was purchased and brought to Eureka, California, in the 1990s by Ralph "Doc" Davis for use as a private fishing vessel. Doc Davis sold the ship to the museum, headed by Mr Leroy Marsh, and they are working together to restore the LCI-1091 to an operating museum vessel.

Several former LCI hulls were obtained and modified for use as sightseeing vessels after World War II by the New York City "Circle Line". The Circle Line 7 (ex-LCI-191), Circle Line 8 (ex-LCI 179) are all now retired. Circle Line X is currently on active duty with Circle Line 42nd Street on New York City's Pier 83.

Several other LCI hulls have been located around the world. The Argentine Navy has at least three, which were being used as of 1998. The ex LCI(L)-653, renamed Husky II, was used as a pilot boat and then a fisheries tender in Alaska before being broken up at Homer, Alaska
Homer, Alaska
Homer is a city located in Kenai Peninsula Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. According to 2005 Census Bureau estimates, the population was 5,364. One of Homer's nicknames is "the cosmic hamlet by the sea"; another is "the end of the road"...

 in 2010. Three derelict LCI hulls remain at Staten Island, New York, in the Witte Marine salvage yard on Arthur Kill Road.

Only one LCS(L) Mk.3, the ex-LCS-102, still survives in original configuration. She is moored at Mare Island, California, where she is being restored to her WWII appearance by volunteers. She is open for tours on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

See also

External links

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