Well Deck(LCU) Operations
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Well Deck Control Officers
The WDCO performs the following functions:
Controls all well deck operations
Controls overall ballasting operations
Keeps the Debark Control Officer (DCO) informed of the depth of water at the sill
The Well Deck Safety Officer, normally a senior Petty Officer, conducts safety and procedural briefs for well deck evolutions. \
This brief will include, as a minimum, the following information:
The requirement for complete battle dress, inherently buoyant or automatically inflating life preservers, safety shoes, protective head gear, and hearing protection
The sequence of planned or anticipated well deck evolutions
Expected conditions in the well when the ship is on station, including swell and depth of water at the sill
Communications circuits, signals, and standard commands
Anticipated craft orders after entering or when alive in the well
Man-overboard or man-in-the-well procedures
Procedural changes at darken ship
The Ramp Marshal and Petty Officer in Charge (POIC) are responsible for carrying out the instructions of the WDCO. The POIC and Ramp Marshal will wear yellow helmets and may wear yellow, auto-inflated, Mk I life vests for ease of identification.
The Ramp Marshal directs a Landing Craft Air Cushion's (LCAC's) final approach to the well deck via hand signals
Phone Talkers are assigned to the following stations with the minimum ratings:
Ballast Control – either a qualified Hull Technician 2nd or 3rd Class
Bridge – qualified Seaman from Executive (X) Division
Compressor Room – qualified Fireman and can also be the Compressor Room Operator
Debark Control – qualified Petty Officer 3rd Class/Seaman from X Division
Damage Control Central – qualified Fireman
Sea Ballast Control Stations – qualified Fireman and can also be a Sea Ballast Control Station Operator
Stern Gate – qualified Fireman and can also be the Stern Gate Operator
Port and Starboard Line Captains
Line Captains ensure that Line Handlers tend the lines a minimum of 18 inches away from cleats and 24 inches from the T-bitts.
The Line Captains check all line-handling stations to ensure they are properly manned, their personnel are in full battle dress, and the lines are on station, faked out, and free for running.
The Line Captains are located in well deck control and are Boatswain's Mate 2nd or 3rd Class (as required).
Line Handlers position the marriage blocks, lines, and marriage chains in the well. The Line Handlers are located in the well deck.
Line Handlers are Seaman.
The Ballast Control Officer performs the following functions:
Supervises the actual ballast/deballast operations
Provides the wet well conditions, as specified by the WDCO
Starts ballasting down when directed by well deck control
Follows the ballasting plan as closely as possible
Controls the cycling of the sea ballast valves and vent valves to selected tanks to most effectively avoid unequal flooding of the tanks
The stern gate power unit components are connected through high-pressure piping and generally consist of:
Two main pumps
Two hand pumps for use in the event of power loss
A hydraulic manifold (valve block) with directional, check, and counterbalance valves
The Combat Cargo Officer, who is normally the ship's Boatswain, coordinates cargo control. The Combat Cargo Officer conducts cargo and vehicle handling operations as directed by the WDCO.
The minimum manning required for cargo control is as follows:
Combat Cargo Officer
Monorail/Bridge Crane Operators (if equipped)
The repair locker contains items for damage control.
The minimum manning for the repair locker is as follows:
Locker Phone Talker
Who normally fills the position of the Combat Cargo Officer?
Planning and Preparation Brief
1. The requirement for complete battle dress, inherently buoyant or automatically inflating life preservers, safety shoes, protective head gear, and hearing protection
2. The sequence of planned or anticipated well deck evolutions
3. Expected conditions in the well when the ship is on station, including swell and the depth of water at the sill
4. Ship's speed
5. Communications circuits, signals, and standard commands
6. Anticipated craft orders after entering or whenalive in the well
7. Line-handling intentions
8. Man-overboard or man-in-the-well procedures
9. Procedural changes at darken ship
After completing the safety and procedural brief, the crew accomplishes these steps:
1. All communications systems shall be tested prior to commencing any well deck evolution.
2. Ballast the ship properly. The ship's ballasting bill is the primary reference for determining the proper depth of water in the well to meet operational requirements. Sea state and cargo stowed in well are major factors.
3. Ensure positioning lines are properly made up. A minimum of four lines will be used for positioning individual craft and eight lines for positioning boats nested together. Spare positioning lines will be readily available, on station, for emergent use. Four- to five-inch, double-braided, nylon lines with an 18-inch eye splice shall be used for all well deck positioning lines.
4. Test traffic control lights and the engine order light display.
5. Ensure all red and green signal flags are on station and well deck control lights are tested.
6. Energize the well deck ventilation systems 30 minutes before the evolution.
7. Ensure all personnel working in the well are in the proper battle dress, including an inherently buoyant or auto-inflatable life preserver and a properly color-coded protective helmet.
8. Ensure all wingwall or catwalk cleats and T-bitts are properly color coded (from aft to forward they should be red, white, blue, yellow, and green; repeat the sequence as necessary).
9. While moving vehicles or cargo to or from craft in the well, ballast and adjust lines, as necessary, to ensure craft are grounded in the well. No movement of personnel or vehicles is authorized until the craft are sufficiently grounded to reduce the possibility of damage or injury.
General Craft Preparations
1. Early in the evolution, conduct radio checks on the primary and secondary radio control frequencies.
2. Secure all gear adrift above and below decks.
3. Ensure embarked personnel, not assigned as crew, are given a safety brief.
4. Ensure all craft are equipped with the current navigation and tide information for the operating area. This information should be included in each craft's boat book.
Landing Craft Utility Specific Procedures
1. Lower the mast, radar dome, search light, davit, jack staff, and railings, which extend over 17 feet 9 inches above the keel (all items must be lowered to the same level as the conning platform).
2. Ensure any cargo or vehicles embarked do not exceed 17 feet 9 inches above the keel.
3. Ensure all MOGAS containers are properly secured in jettisonable racks topside or with direct access to over-the-side jettison.
4. Ballast craft to minimize list and trim.
5. Ensure all internal navigation equipment are operating correctly.
Planning for an Underway Launch
The launch should avoid large variations in water depth, especially in depths that are less than 100 feet.
When conducting underway launches in 60 feet of water or less, significant squat will occur if the ship's speed exceeds ten knots. Squat causes abrupt changes in draft when passing over shallow areas.
Squat not only affects the ship but also assault craft crossing the sill. In some cases, squat will double when increasing speed from 15 to 20 knots.
Wet Well Operating Procedure
1.Set Condition 1A. The Well Deck Control Officer (WDCO) immediately mans the well deck control station and commences review of the wet well operations checklist. The Line Captains check all line-handling stations to ensure they are properly manned, personnel are in full battle dress, and the lines are on station, faked out, and free for running.
2. Once ballasted to the sill, open the stern gate to approximately a 45-degree angle (LPD/LHD/LSD) or open the stern closure (LHA) and continue ballasting to the required depth. This allows for the gradual flooding of the well instead of a surge if the stern gate was opened after ballasting was complete.
3. Lower the stern gate to the stops when ballasted to proper depth.
4. Keep a favorable heading for embarking/debarking craft (normally into the seas).
5. Ensure assault craft set material condition "ZEBRA" main deck and below prior to entering or exiting the well.
6. Position the craft with the maximum use of control lines in conjunction with using the craft's engine.
7. Man all lines while craft are waterborne. It is extremely important to ensure an adequate number of personnel are standing by the lines in the event a craft shifts position before grounding. A single Line Handler per line is required to man the lines until that craft is secured in place.
8. Secure the craft for sea immediately when the landing craft are in position and the well is dry.
9. Keep the Debark Control Officer informed via the WDCO of the movement of the assault craft in or near the well.
Embarking LCUs in LHD/LPD/LSD Ships
An LCU can only be embarked individually in LHD/LPD/LSD class ships. When multiple craft are being operated together outside the well, those not embarking or debarking will stand off at greater than 500 yards to avoid impeding the maneuvers of the ship or the craft operating in the well
LCU Line-Handling Sequence to Embark LHD/LPD/LSD Ships
1. Lines will be set up on the port and starboard wingwalls, adjacent to a predetermined position of the LCU.
Line 2 will then be walked aft from the cleats/bitts, from which the line will be tended and passed around the forward bitts of the LCU as soon as practicable after the LCU crosses the sill.
Line 2 is then tended, as required, for controlling the forward movement of the craft.
2. The craft is moved forward using its engines until the Number 4 lines can be passed to the after bitts.
3. The crew will pass over lines 1 and 3. The stern gate may be raised to 45 degrees to minimize wave action.
4. As the craft moves forward to a predetermined position, the lines can be shifted forward. Care must be taken to ensure that only one pair of lines is shifted at any given time.
LCU Line-Handling Sequence to Embark an LHA Ship
1. Lines will be set up on the port/starboard wingwalls adjacent to a predetermined position to spot the LCU (only four lines will be used for each craft). These lines will then be walked aft at about 60 feet from the cleats/bitts, from which the lines will be tended.
2. When the LCU enters the well deck, the positioning lines will be passed to the LCU in a 2, 4, 1, 3 sequence and secured to the LCU as indicated in the graphic.
LCU Line-Handling Sequence to Debark LHA/LPD/LSD/LHD Class Ships
1. When the LCU is afloat and ready to be debarked, cast off lines 1 and 3.
2. As the LCU backs out, work the slack out of the number 2 and 4 lines. When the lines are up and down with the wingwall cleats/bitts, cast them off and let the LCU proceed out of the well deck.
If an unsafe condition arises, the evolution must be suspended and immediate action taken to rectify the problem and prevent reoccurrence. Any team member may use his or her life jacket whistle to indicate an emergency or any developing unsafe condition.
Ensure that assigned safety observers are present throughout well deck operations
Ensure they are qualified in the positions they have been assigned to observe
Ensure they are assigned in sufficient numbers to observe all aspects of the operation
Ensure they are able to quickly communicate any unsafe condition or practice to the control station
What signalling device is used to indicate an emergency or an unsafe condition in the wet well.
Life jacket whistle
What color helmet do safety observers wear in the wet well?
What drive selection should fork truck operators use when traveling down a wet well ramp, if feasible?
Heavy Weather Operations in the Wet Well
This decision can only be made by the Commanding Officer or higher authority.
Heavy weather is defined as any sea condition that, because of swell or wave action, causes the depth of water over the sill to vary by 6 feet or more (+/-3.0 feet from nominal depth)
Ship Stability Considerations During Heavy Weather Operations
Stability of the ship during wet well operations in heavy weather must be considered. Putting water into a well obviously affects hog and sag stresses to a ship.
A hog stress is when the hull of the ship is forced upwards from a wave. A sag stress is when the hull of the ship is forced downwards from a wave.
The Damage Control Assistant (DCA) must advise the Commanding Officer before the evolution as to the effect on the stability of the ship in heavy seas with added water weight in the well.
Craftmasters and Coxswains Considerations During Heavy Weather Operations
If the Craftmaster or Coxswain considers the ship's position or sea state to be a potential hazard to craft or personnel, this information should be relayed directly to the ship's Commanding Officer.
The Craftmaster of an LCU is appointed in writing as the Officer in Charge (OIC) and is responsible for the craft's operations and safety. If weather or operational considerations necessitate a well deck ship to either embark or conduct well deck operations against the specific recommendations of the Craftmaster, the matter and circumstances will be entered in the ship's and craft's deck logs.
The radar typically installed on landing craft (including the LCU) operates at low power, and poor-weather conditions further reduce its range. This radar is normally limited to an effective range of about ten miles. Therefore, if visibility is reduced to one-half mile, the OIC of the LCU will evaluate the situation, taking into account the navigational and surface contact pictures. If unable to safely operate in reduced visibility, the OIC is authorized to terminate the evolution and to make the appropriate entries in the craft's deck log.
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