- The Higgins Boat is one of the iconic ships of World War II.
- The Higgins boat, known as the LCVP, landed U.S. and allied forces in Europe and the Pacific.
- The man behind it, Andrew Higgins, was a prolific inventor who mass-produced boats during the war.
The day after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, New Orleans-based shipbuilder Andrew Higgins brought the idea of a landing craft to the U.S. Patent Office that could transport U.S. soldiers from ships at sea to shores under enemy control. submitted.
Two and a half years later, on the morning of June 6, 1944, the LCVP (short for Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel), designed and built by the Higgins company, landed on D. – Day Landing.
With its innovative ramp design, two .30 caliber machine guns, and room for 36 infantrymen, the “Higgins Boat” played a key role on D-Day. These landings were still the largest naval invasion in history and a major turning point in the war.
The Normandy landings were a horrific mission of unprecedented scale.
To succeed, the Allies needed the ability to land troops, vehicles, and other equipment on beaches strewn with fortifications and obstacles manned by Nazi garrisons. Higgins’ landing craft made this possible.
General Dwight Eisenhower later called Higgins “the man who won the war for us.” The shipbuilder’s reputation even extended to Germany, where Adolf Hitler reluctantly hailed him as “the new Noah.”
Who is Andrew Higgins?
Higgins built over 20,000 boats during his decades-long career. His landing craft were used in all major landing operations of World War II, from the shores of Europe to the islands of the Pacific.
Joshua Schick, curator and restoration manager at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, told Insider:
Two Higgins landing craft are on display in the museum’s main pavilion, and the World War II-themed Hilton facility Higgins Hotel & Conference Center In honor of our hometown hero.
Described by Schick as a “brilliant businessman”, Higgins was relatively new to building military hardware when World War II began, but he had a knack for entrepreneurship, innovation and problem-solving. I had a long track record.
Born in Nebraska in 1886, Higgins ran a newspaper company and started a lawn mowing company as a child. Serving in the Nebraska Army National Guard, he was exposed to a boat used to move troops by water during a militia exercise on the Platte River.
He moved to Mobile, Alabama in 1906 and entered the lumber industry. By the 1930s, he had founded his Higgins Lumber and Export Company and was working as a lumberman in New Orleans. In the 1920s, Higgins developed the Eureka his boat, a vessel designed for oilfield operations, whose effectiveness in shallow water attracted the attention of the U.S. Navy.
Higgins Industries saw enormous demand and explosive growth as the U.S. military sought new ways to move large numbers of troops and supplies to beaches during amphibious operations.
Anticipating that the government would need boats and that the contract would be large, Higgins began building the factory before the war began, and building the boats before the factory was completed.
Higgins eventually won a major government contract that allowed him to scale up production at an unprecedented rate and make a significant contribution to the war.
Higgins and his employees earned a reputation for rapid and innovative design and construction. In one instance, a Navy official expressed interest in his new 56-foot tank landing craft design three days before his scheduled visit to see another type of landing craft.
Using the tugs they had on hand and working without blueprints, Higgins and his engineers built a new landing craft and successfully tested it for naval officials during their visit.
The LCVP, for which Higgins is famous, was based on a Japanese landing craft design used in the late 1930s. Higgins created a mockup based on a photo of a Japanese ship. Within a month of him starting work on the new boat, tests on Lake Pontchartrain showed the design to be viable.
Each LCVP could carry 36 combat troops or 8,000 pounds of cargo, of which 23,000 were built during the war.
Although the design and manufacture of amphibious vehicles was the focus of his organization, he branched out into other initiatives, at one point securing a contract to manufacture carbon and metal components for the Manhattan Project.
Higgins worked tirelessly and innovated relentlessly, Schick said. By 1943, Higgins’ Industries employed about 20,000 people in his seven factories.
His facilities spread throughout New Orleans and expanded into new activities such as refurbishing trucks and manufacturing parts for aircraft, plastics and other equipment. “He just explodes onto the scene,” Chic said.
Jerry E. Strahan, author of Andrew Jackson Higgins and the Boats That Won World War II, details Higgins’ progressive, efficiency-driven approach to business.
Higgins rejected discriminatory hiring practices that excluded women and people of color from wartime jobs. Higgins also felt his illness was costly to his productivity and started a clinic to provide free medical care to his workers.
Higgins continued to lead the company until his death from a stroke in 1952.
Chic hopes that Higgins’ legacy will be celebrated through the museum’s tribute to him, particularly the Higgins Hotel on Andrew Higgins Boulevard adjacent to the museum. A portrait of Higgins from 1943 is displayed.
“We’re looking at all the nameless people who created this gigantic machine that ultimately won the war, and it’s a really great symbol in the arsenal of democracy,” Schick said of Higgins’ work. I encourage you to read more in. There is always something to learn about Andrew Higgins.”
Katie Sanders is a journalist based in New York City. Her report took her to prison, JDate, the CIA, and the White House.follow her @KatieSSandersMara Storey is People Analytics Manager at Deloitte. She lives in Nashville.follow her @mtruslowstorey.