Higgins Boats

Higgins boat

President Eisenhower said: “If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVPs (Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel), we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would have been different.” And as Colonel Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Ret) said, “The Higgins boats broke the gridlock on the ship-to-shore movement.  It is impossible to overstate the tactical advantages this craft gave U.S. amphibious commanders in World War II.”

Clearly, the half-wood half-steel “smallboat” meant a lot to the War. These assault or LCVP boats would land troops and material on invasion beachheads. Their designer, Andrew Higgins, was positive there would be a need among the U.S. Navy for thousands of small boats—and was also sure that steel would be in short supply. In an common moment of eccentricity, Higgins bought the entire 1939 crop of mahogany from the Philippines and stored it on his own.

Higgins boat diagram

Higgins’ expectations were right, and as the war progressed he applied for a position in Naval design. Insisting that the Navy “doesn’t know one damn thing about small boats,” Higgins struggled for years to convince them of the need for small wooden boats. Finally he signed the contract to develop his LCVP.

Employing more than 30,000 for an integrated workforce in New Orleans. Higgins employed blacks and women among them, which was uncommon practice at the time. This force eagerly began mass-producing the “Higgins boats,” which were 36’3” in length and had a beam of 10’10”. Their displacement when unloaded was 18,000 lbs., and they could maintain a speed of 9 knots. They were defended by 2 .30 caliber machine guns, and could carry 36 combat-equipped infantrymen or 8,000 pounds of cargo. For a detailed picture of a Higgins boat’s anatomy, see the image below. Along with the help of other American factories, Higgins produced 23,398 LCVPs during the War.

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In the United States,  Andrew Higgins evaluated the Fox boat and felt it was too weak to survive mishap in emergency operations. In November 1943, Higgins assigned engineers from his company to make a sturdier version with two engines.  Higgins Industries, known for making landing craft (LCVPs)  and PT boats,  produced the A-1 lifeboat, a 1½-ton (1400 kg), 27-foot (8 m) airborne lifeboat with waterproof internal compartments so that it would not sink if swamped or overturned. Intended to be dropped by modified Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress it was ready for production in early 1944.

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Military History – Navy Style – 

The Navy’s version of Sad Sack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Adams – Rockingham, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/675 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Howard Blanchard – DE; US Navy, WWII, destroyer escort / Korea

William Cason Sr. – Charlotsville, VA; US Merchant Marines

Steven Donofrio – Middlebury, CT; US Navy, WWII

Barbara Bower Johnson – Pleasant Hills, PA; US Navy WAVE, WWII, telegrapher

Albert Moon – Jacksonville, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Hamlin

Robert Oelwang – Hornell, NY; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 1st Class

William Robertson – MI; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO

John Sutton – Pittsburgh, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Signalman

Richard Wynn – New Britain, CT; US Navy, WWII

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on September 19, 2019, in Home Front, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 113 Comments.

  1. Lulu: “Wow, who would have thought a boat like that would have been so important?”
    Charlee: “I guess it’s good that the Navy had someone who could work on making the small ships while they worked on the big ones!”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Haven’t had time to reply to any of your post, but I have really enjoyed and learned from them. Keep it up!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. These look very much like the duck boats so popular for land/water tours nowadays. We have heard that they were obtained from military surplus. Are they retired Higgins boats, GP?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. A blessed concept and mission. Eisenhower and Higgins put forth an amazing leadership during a critical era.🍵😎🍵

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Fascinating post! I have seen pictures of these boats for years but have never known their name + how they were designed. Thx!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I forwarded this one to my eldest. I really enjoy reading your posts!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Fascinating U.S. history nugget! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Absolutely great post. Keep sharing. My previous blog is not exit now. I started new one. I hope you will soon check it to like and follow. Thank.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Very interesting. Often portrayed in film. Well used on both fronts.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Definitely a man with a lot of vision, he knew what was needed in advance and predicted Defence Naval requirements for the military, one can say the product of his visions certainly were vital to the wars success. Great post mate.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. We Nebraskans are proud of our native son, Andrew Higgins! Interesting, isn’t it, that a man born in landlocked Columbus (!), Nebraska, would play such a major role in the naval operations of the WWII.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Thank you for this. I had never really heard of the Higgins Boat.

    I wonder if these “thousands of small boats” are in some ways the maritime equivalent of the jeep, but with the capacity to carry more passengers.

    The lifeboat from the air must have saved a great many men (whose training and skills was so important and so expensively acquired). In contrast, the British efforts in this field, particularly in 1939-1941 were bordering on the ludicrous, with the idea that trawlers would pick the men up, so no Air Sea Rescue would ever be needed.

    It sounds like Andrew Higgins is another candidate for a statue, after his contribution to the victory!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I never knew that about your Navy, I couldn’t imagine NOT having a rescue plan for the men. I suppose it never occurred to me because our seacoast is so large and our Coast Guard guards our borders and the Navy had the PBY’s and submarines out on “lifeguard” duty as well. It would have been even better if the Higggins’ lifeboat had been developed earlier.

      Like

  13. We never seem to hear much about hovercraft these days—at one time they were to be the great ‘all rounder’; I still think swarms of these might make a desirable difference in a landing.
    Probably too limited by conditions? Does anyone still ‘hit the beach’ these days or is it all airborne?

    Liked by 3 people

    • I believe about the only ones that ‘hit the beach’ in today’s war would be the SEAL ops. I like the hovercraft, but I’m not aware of how well they would do under these conditions. I would need someone more educated in the field to take that question.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Wonderful information, GP! First time read, but a “must know”, i think. Thank you, Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  15. GP,
    Emilio, Sue, and I got an e-mail from Sarah with an update on LordBeariOfBow and Emilio shared the update on LBoB’s WP site in the comment section.
    Not good news. 😦
    (((HUGS)))

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Super info on the Higgens boat, GP. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. My father saw a lot of those boats in action in the Pacific Theater.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Loved the slide show photo’s GP. I also smiled at the slogan – ‘The guy who relaxes is helping the Axis’, makes me smile when they do the rhyming thing.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Wow! I didn’t know about the Higgins Boat until today. Very interesting!

    Liked by 3 people

  20. What a great post. I noticed this: “Higgins bought the entire 1939 crop of mahogany from the Philippines and stored it on his own.” I couldn’t help wondering if some of that mahogany made it into the boats created by that fellow in Murphreesboro. Another detail that caught my attention was the waterproof internal compartments of the A-l Lifeboats. They helped prevent sinking in the case of swamping or overturning. I couldn’t help wondering if the Boston Whaler designers drew on Higgins’ work for their boats.

    I found one more detail I thought was interesting, in this post. Originally, the LCP didn’t have a landing ramp, and the men had to jump over the side to disembark. That got fixed up fairly quickly, and the LCP(L) got a flattened bow and a landing ramp. Obviously, the LCPV made use of the ramp, too.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. I like the fact that women were amongst the workforce. Sometimes we forget the magnificent work they undertook during these tough times. Talk about stepping up! Another fascinating story:)

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Thanks for this followup, G. Quite interesting. –Curt

    Liked by 3 people

  23. God blessed America and the Allieds! Wherever would come such positivity to buy that mahogany when the powers that were, were so negative. Higgins was amazing.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Wow- the innovators who come up with these things are so fascinating to read about. Love all the photos/slideshow too. Thanks!

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Higgins was a visionary. Glad he persisted!

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Another interesting bit of history, GP. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Thank you for this follow-up post on Higgins. He’s one of the “forgotten heroes” of the war, IMO, so a tip of the hat to you for informing your readers of this segment of how the war was won.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. He bought all that mahogany in 1939! A real visionary indeed.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

  29. GP. Another great post. Your navy cartoon reminds me of something that happened on my husband’s first ship. After they got back from the Philippines they, the Captain had an awards ceremony. One of the young sailors got an award for keeping the coke machines stocked and functioning. (i guess a cold coke is a nice treat in a steamy tropical environment.) A few months later the ship went into the shipyards in Seattle, The award-winning young sailor set fires all over the barge that the crew was living in during the overhaul. He had just gotten a dear john letter from his boyfriend on the Midway. The SPs hauled him off for psychiatric evaluation and returned him the next morning to the quarterdeck. The officers had to have him immediately removed off the ship before his former shipmates extracted their own form of justice.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I imagine the SPs had to work fast – setting fire for a dear John letter, male or female, is no excuse!! Thanks for the story – that’s one I’ve never heard before!
      My dad got a warm coke aboard the transport ship – he never forgot THAT taste.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Just in time. Great ingenuity

    Liked by 3 people

  31. I just read something about Higgins and his boat yesterday. I meant to let you know but it was so hectic at home, I totally forgot. I must be getting old!! I think it was at the National WWII Museum website where they were promoting a WWII tour to the PI and then I saw Higgins bio and his boat.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I know the Museum is in New Orleans instead of D.C. because of Higgins and they should be opening the Higgins Hotel and Conference building pretty soon. If they haven’t already!)

      Liked by 2 people

      • I read about the Higgins Hotel too. Hey, I asked Matt if he knew the Higgins boats (he likes boats and had one till 1972 when we sold our boat) and he said he does but does not know the man either. I told him about your post and he’s thrilled to learn something new.

        Liked by 2 people

  32. It’s hard to imagine landing on a beach with anything else. I’m guessing it would be a small craft with cargo nets over the side. What a great contribution. Thanks for highlighting these.

    Liked by 3 people

  33. I just read it. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. If you have the time, his biography is very interesting. It goes into how he promoted the Higgins Boat to the government, more about design, etc. It’s called “Andrew Jackson Higgins and the Boats that Won the War” by Jerry E. Strahan. My dad enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday in 1944, and a little more than one year later was piloting a Higgins Boat at Iwo Jima.

    Liked by 7 people

  35. This has turned out to be quite popular. Thank you for sharing it.

    Like

  1. Pingback: Higgins Boats — Pacific Paratrooper – Truth Troubles

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