LCAC Craftmasters

by Mass Communication Specialist Third Class David Lee, All Hands Magazine
28 January 2020

At Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Sailors assigned to Assault Craft Unit Four (ACU-4) learn to operate and man Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), the Navy’s combat ready craft fully capable of worldwide operational tasking. To accomplish that ACU-4 conducts training through simulators and live missions exercises to maintain all craft and equipment in the highest state of readiness.

VIDEO | 02:45 | Craftmasters Specialized Connectors

“You start off with a lot of textbook and classroom presentations to learn the basics of the craft,” said Senior Chief Machinist’s Mate Eric Levick, leading chief petty officer at ACU-4.

The first portion of the school involves a Full Mission Trainer (FMT), a simulator designed to demonstrate a variety of scenarios, which is run by Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Atlantic (EWTGLANT).

Each LCAC crew consists of a team lead by a craft master and includes an engineer, navigator, loadmaster and deck engineer.

Sailors who hold the craft master position must be E-7 to E-9 and are responsible for the crew and overall operation of the LCAC. All other members assigned to the crew balance the duties and responsibilities for the operation of the engineering plant mission planning, navigation, beach assaults, and craft communications and the proper loading and offloading of all cargo and passengers.

 “It’s a computer system, as soon as you touch the controls it will react,” said Levick. “A craft is completely different, pushing in the controls will take some time for the craft to react. Under circumstances, the winds and seas will really affect what you are trying to do.”

In addition to its mission simulator, the one on one training provided to students also makes ACU-4 a unique environment.   

 “Here we actually have one instructor per student, so you not only get that one-on-one mentoring and teaching but you also get the personal experience from that craft master who stays with you through the entire course of training,” explained Senior Chief Quartermaster Steve Schweizer.

The FMT also provides instructors with the opportunity to observe how students are handling each scenario.

“When they’re in the trainer, we can actually see the inputs they’re putting into the craft,” said Schweizer. “If they’re doing it right, we’ll give them the positive feedback and if they’re doing it wrong we’ll make sure we correct them. That’s the biggest thing to the one-to-one ratio, you’re just watching the one student. If they’re doing something incorrectly you have the one instructor to focus on the one student.”

When Sailors arrive at the command they are also introduced to a leadership style specific to the LCAC community.  Schweizer stressed the importance of the craft master’s role in maintaining a composed demeanor for the entire crew. “The last thing you can do as a craft master is panic,” said Schweizer. “You set the tone of the crew.”

“This type of leadership is much different than running a division on a ship,” said Schweizer. “You’re responsible for a craft, you’re the CO of the craft basically. We have the same regulations and responsibilities as a CO at sea. It’s a different style of leadership.”

A control panel aboard an LCAC.
SLIDESHOW | 10 images | Shut It Down VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (Dec. 11, 2019) VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (Dec. 11, 2019) Senior Chief Quartermaster Steve Schweizer engages a shut down sequence on a landing craft, air cushion (LCAC) assigned to Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 4 onboard Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Levingston Lewis/Released)

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