Brief History of British Army Landing Craft
By Colonel John Fidler

The Suez campaign in 1956 highlighted the lack of the availability of Landing craft to undertake and support amphibious operations. A decision was taken for the Army to man some of the available LCT Mk VIII's that were being held in Naval Reserve. The task fell to Water Transport, Royal Army Service Corps to form the Unit. The LCT's were taken out of Naval reserve in order to be prepared and refitted so that they could participate in the Suez campaign. The Campaign drew to a close before the LCT's were deployed en masse, however L 4086 (Arromanches) took part in the Suez campaign.

On 6 October 1956 76 Coy (LCT) RASC was formed with 7 Vessels. They were:
L4062 - AACHEN
L4128 - AREZZO
L4164 - ARAKAN
L4086 - ARROMANCHES (Joined fleet in Sept 1958)

In 1960 it was decided that the ageing LCT Mk IV's needed to be replaced in the Far East. L4073 (ARDENNES), L4085 (AGEDABIA) were taken from the Reserve and refitted and along with L4086 (ARROMANCHES), which was already in service, deployed to Singapore from the UK during 1960. At about this time HMS Rampart (L4037) was taken over from the Navy and renamed LCT Akyab and kept the same pennant number.

In 1964 a further 2 vessels, L4074 (ANTWERP) and L4164 (ARAKAN) were deployed to augment the fleet in the Far East in support of operations around the coasts of the Malaysian peninsular and Borneo.

The Royal Corps of Transport (RCT) was formed in 1965 and 20 Maritime Regiment, based in Gosport, took over the responsibility of the LCT's from the Royal army service Corps (RAsc). At much the same time the status of the ships was eventually recognized when they were granted by Royal Warrant the title of Her Majesty's Army Vessels (HMAV).

In 1965 L 4002 (AGHEILA) and L4128 (AREZZO) deployed to support operations in the Middle East . L 4002 remained in Aden and L 4128 deployed to Bahrain in support of British Forces Gulf. Subsequently in 1967, L4002 returned fron Aden to the UK and L 4128 continued in service in Bahrain until Nov 1971 when she was disposed of locally after the withdrawl of UK Forces from the Middle east.

In 1970 L4074 (ANTWERP) deployed from Singapore to relieve L4128 (AREZZO) in the Gulf in order for L4128 to undergo a full refit in Singapore. L4128 returned to the Gulf and L4074 to Singapore after the completion of the refit in late 1970.

After the withdrawal of British forces from Singapore and Bahrain in Nov 1971, all the LCT Mk VIII's operating in these theatres were disposed of locally. 20 Maritime Regiment continued in business in the UK operating and administering L4002 - AGHEILA, L4041 - ABBEVILLE, L4061 - AUDEMER, L4062 - AACHEN, L4097 - ANDALSNES.

These were the vessels remaining and operating in UK and continental waters in support of British forces operations, exercises and providing logistical support.

The LCT Mk VIII was replaced by Landing Craft Logistic (LCL) as the main landing craft of the Army. In 1979 L4002 (AGHEILA) was the last LCT to be taken out of service HMAV Ardennes (L4001) and HMAV Arakan (L4003) were introduced into service in 1978 and 1979 respectively. They continued service in 20 Maritime Regt RCT until 1989 when the Regiment was disbanded. The vessels were then attached to 17 Port and Maritime Regiment RCT at Marchwood, Southampton. In 1993 the Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) was formed and the Regiment renamed 17 Port and Maritime Regiment RLC. The decision to take the Landing Craft Logistic out of service was made in the Defence Review of 1998 and both HMAV Ardennes and HMAV Arakan were both de- commissioned in 1998 and disposed of locally. Last reported to be moored up on Lake Lothing in Lowestoft.
-Colonel John Fidler
© John Fidler all rights reserved

Page published Feb. 1, 2011