List of World War II vessel types of the United States

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This List of World War II vessel types of the United States is a list of the types of vessels used by the United States during the time period of World War II. It includes submarines, battleships, minelayers, oilers, barges, pontoon rafts and other types of water craft, boats and ships.
(This list is not yet complete.)


Under the Army organization of 1940, the Army Quartermaster was charged with the responsibility of providing the Army with all water transport services except those specifically authorized; for the Corps of Engineers in river and harbor work, for the Coast Artillery Corps in mine planting, and for the Signal Corps in cable laying (the Army had no communication ships at this time). In March 1942, most of the transportation functions of the Army Quartermaster were consolidated into the Transportation Division of the newly created Services of Supply. That same year, on July 31, the Transportation Corps was established.

Water Transportation - U.S. Army, 1939-1942, ASF
FM 21-6 List of Publications for Training - January 20, 1945

Coast Artillery Corps Mine Planter Service[edit]

The Army Mine Planter Service was responsible for the mine fields of the coast defenses. The largest vessels of the service were the U.S. Army Mine Planter (USAMP ) which was equipped to install mines and associated control cables. Smaller vessels known as "junior mine planters" or "pup planters", were occasionally employed as mine planters, but for the most part they served as freight and passenger boats for river and harbor duty. In addition to the mine planters, there were distribution box boats, used for servicing the mine-cable distribution boxes and rugged utility boats called motor mine yawls.

Mine ships[edit]

For more details on Mine Planters, see List of ships of the United States Army.
L Distribution Box Boat
M Motor Mine Yawl
MP Mine Planter
JMP Junior Mine Planter

Signal Corps[edit]

Cable ships[edit]

For more details on Cable laying ships, see List of ships of the United States Army.
BSP Barge, self-propelled

Communication ships[edit]

Army communications ships in the South West Pacific theater of World War II provided radio relay services and acted as command posts for forward elements ashore.

p262 The Signal Corps: The Outcome ( Mid-1943 through 1945 )
CS Communications ship
CSM Maintenance ship, a CS ship additionally equipped to perform radio repair
CSN News ship, was used by civilian journalist
CSQ Quarters ship, a floating dormitory
PCER Patrol Craft, Escort, Rescue

Transportation Corps - Water Division[edit]

South West Pacific Area (SWPA) - Services of Supply (USASOS)[edit]

U.S. Army Transportation in the Southwest Pacific Area 1941-1947
Small Ships Section[edit]
Tassie III (S-77) of the Small Ships Section, United States Army Services of Supply, Southwest Pacific Area (USASOSSWPA) at a hideout at Mubo Salamaua Area, Morobe, New Guinea 1943.

As there was a need for a fleet of shallow-draft vessels that could navigate among coral reefs and use primitive landing places far up the coast of New Guinea and along the outlying islands. An "S" fleet under Army control was created using local Australian vessels crewed largely by civilian Australians and New Zealanders. It was a miscellaneous collection of luggers, rusty trawlers, old schooners, launches, ketches, yawls, and yachts.

US Army Small Ships Section
The Formation and Operation of the US Army Small Ships in World War II
pp. 430, 448-53 The Transportation Corps: Operations Overseas

Water Branch - Army Transport Service (ATS)[edit]

Troop ships[edit]
Ships and Men of the Army Transport Service (ATS)
Army Transport Service WW II
Troops and Cargo Transported During World War II under U.S. Army Control
USAT Orizaba in port, 1941
USS Orizaba (AP-24) underway at se, c. 1944
Cargo ships over 1,000 tons[edit]
The Army's Cargo Fleet in World War II
FM 55-105 Water Transportation: Oceangoing Vessels (War Department 25SEPT1944)

Harbor Branch - Harbor Boat Service (HBS)[edit]

FM 55-130 Small Boats and Harbor Craft - January 31, 1944
Harbor Vessels[edit]

The harbor craft company is organized for the purpose of ferrying to shore cargo from freighters and transports arriving in theaters of operation. The vessels may either be riding offshore at anchor in the open sea or more likely, anchored in a harbor. Cargo from the ships is loaded by Transportation Corps port company personnel onto barges. Then tugs, tow boats, or marine tractors propel the barges to the shore for unloading. Any cargo too heavy for the vessel's gear to lift is handled by a 60-ton floating crane.

  • B Barge or Lorcha
  • BB Balloon Barge
  • BBP Balloon Barrage Leader
  • BC Cargo Barge (Med. 110'-130')
  • BCS Cargo Barge (Sm. 45' - 60')
  • BCL Cargo Barge (Large - 210' or more)
  • BD Derrick and Crane Barges
  • BDP Pontoon Derrick Barge
  • BK Knocked-down barge
  • BG Gasoline Barge
  • BSP Self-propelled Barge
  • BW Water Barge
  • BTL Truck Lighter
  • C Navy Type Launch (Obsolete designation)
  • CL Landing Boat
  • D Dory and Dinghie
  • G Marine Tractor
  • HA Hoisting or Retrieving Vessel
  • JR Radio Controlled Boat
  • J Launch up to 50'
  • MT Motor Towboat (Sm. 26')
  • MTL Motor Towboat (Large, over 26')
  • OB Outboard Launch - Detachable Motor
  • OBM Outboard Motor - Stationary Motor
  • Q Launch, more than 60'
  • R Rowboat
  • TKL Tank Lighter
  • V Speed Boat
  • Y Tanker - 176'
Cargo ships under 1,000 tons[edit]

Coastwise & Inter-island cargo ships   a.k.a. Coastal freighters


The small boat company provided regular coastal and island service to bases in the Aleutian and Pacific Islands to supply food and equipment transported by small coastal and inter-island vessels and water craft that were under 200 feet or under 1,000 gross tons of the following vessel types;

  • Ferry
  • Tanker
  • Water Boat
  • Motor Launch
  • Seagoing Tug
  • Freight-Passenger Vessel
Army FP/FS Vessels
p159 The Coast Guard at War, USCG crewed F ships
U.S. Army "FS" (Freight-Supply) Vessels Manned by Coast Guard crews
Menhaden fishing fleet of converted FS vessels
T tender
towing vessel
transport boat
Vessel 65' Wood
TP tug, passenger Utility Vessel 96' Wood (Design 333) - Harbor Tug
tow boat
purse seiner
sailing schooner
Freight & Passenger Vessel (Small) - under 100'
(plus private vessels refitted for wartime service)
F   Cargo Vessel 99' Steel
FT   Vessel 115' Wood
FP   Freight & Passenger Vessel (Large) - over 100'
(plus private vessels refitted for wartime service)
FS small, 99' and under Freight and Supply Vessel

(F, FT & FP were reclassified FS early in World War II)

medium, 100' to 139'
large, 140' and over
FS-80 to FS-90 were merchant vessels refitted for wartime operation
Built during World War II
QS Quick Supply Boat
Design 235-C (Boat, Supply, High Speed, Gasoline, Wood, 104'), see P type
ST Small Tug, under 100'
LT Large Tug, over 100'
  • LT-5 the only surviving Army vessel that participated in the D-Day Normandy landing.
  • LT-152
  • LT-638

Air Corps - Quartermaster Corps (QMC) boat service[edit]

late in 1943 all rescue-boat activities were reassigned to the Army Air Forces
Unit Designation Chronology
  1. Air Corps Marine Rescue Service
  2. Quartermaster Boat Company, Avn. (note; Avn=Aviation)
  3. AAF Emergency Rescue Boat Squadron (ERBS)

Rescue Boats[edit]

p131 The 10th ERBS in Alaska
SG Swamp Glider
P Rescue Boat, various sizes (42',63',85',104')
also referred too as a Crash Boat, or Crash Rescue Boat
Design 235 (Boat, Rescue, Gasoline, Wood, 104'), see QS type

Corps of Engineers[edit]

Rivers & Harbors Division[edit]

Reorganized 6 June 1942 as;
Construction Division - Engineering and Operations branches
towboat a powerful small boat designed to pull or push larger vessels
dredge a vessel equipped for digging out the bed of a water way
snagboat a vessel equipped for removing obstructions in a water way

Troops Division[edit]

FM 5-5 11 October 1943 Engineer Field Manual, Engineer Troops
FM 5-5 C-1 31 March 1944 CHANGES No. 1} FM 5-5, 11 October 1943 is changed as follows:
FM 5-5 C-2 10 May 1944 CHANGES No. 2} FM 5-5, 11 October 1943 is changed as follows:
FM 5-5 C-3 5 July 1944 CHANGES No. 3} FM 5-5, 11 October 1943 is changed as follows:
FM 5-5 C-4 11 October 1944 CHANGES No. 4} FM 5-5, 11 October 1943 is changed as follows:
FM 5-5 C-5 28 December 1944 CHANGES No. 5} FM 5-5, 11 October 1943 is changed as follows:
FM 5-5,C1..C5
  1. Engineer Units with Army Air Forces
  2. Engineer Units with Army Service Forces
  3. Engineer Units, SERVICE, with Army Ground Forces
  4. Engineer units, COMBAT, with Army Ground Forces
    1. airborne battalion
    2. combat battalion
    3. light ponton company
    4. heavy ponton battalion
    5. treadway bridge company
Port & Harbor Rehabilitation[edit]
Engineer Port Repair ship
For more details on Engineer Port Repair ships, see List of ships of the United States Army.

The engineer port repair ship is equipped with repair facilities that include a heavy crane and a machine shop and maintains channels and ship berths by removing sunken ships and other obstructions. It also maintains channel markings and other aids for pilots. It does needed work on docks and wharves in conjunction with engineer port construction and repair groups.

Port Construction and Repair Group

The primary mission of the engineer port construction and repair group is to make ready for use the facilities of ports of debarkation in a theater of operations. and to perform work involved in improvement or expansion of such ports, exclusive of harbors. Its work is performed in conjunction with engineer port repair ship operations offshore.
The construction platoon consists of a divers' section under the supervision of an officer, as master diver. Enlisted personnel consists of marine divers and divers' attendants. This section does underwater work incident to construction of quay walls, wharves, piers, etc.

Port Restoration - WWII
The dredge "William L. Marshall" in World War II
The Corps of Engineers: The War Against Germany: CHAPTER XVI Developing Beaches and Reconstructing Ports
The District, A History of the Philadelphia District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1866-1971, Marine Design - Unique Mission
United States Army in World War II - The Corps of Engineers: Troops and Equipment - Chapter XVII - Preparing to Reconstruct Ports
Historic Dredging Photos
Militarized Dredge 3-inch gun turrets (fore and aft), 20-millimeter gun turrets (midship)
Port Repair Ship workshops, cranes, machine shops, U.S Army divers' complement
Littoral Traversal[edit]

Engineer Amphibian Brigade

redesignated in 1943 as;
Engineer Special Brigade

The engineer special brigade provides personnel and equipment for transporting combat troops from a friendly near shore to a hostile far shore when the distance is not over 100 miles. The brigade resupplies these troops during the early stages of establishing a beachhead. The brigade can transport one division when reinforced by naval LCT boats.

LCM Landing Craft Mechanized
P Command Boat (Crash boat 63')
  • 2+1/2-ton amphibian trucks,
  • command and navigation boats
  • tank lighters
  • patrol boats
  • surf-landing boats
Riverine Traversal[edit]
Reconnaissance Boat small two-man inflatable rubber boat
M-2 Assault Boat 10 man plywood boat that could also be used for infantry support rafts or used in the assembly of an expedient assault boat bridge
Storm Boat 8 man (6+2 crew) hi speed powerboat with a 55 HP Outboard Motor, designed to beach at speed, thus allowing the soldiers onboard to "Storm the Shore"
DUKW six-wheel-drive amphibious truck
Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) amphibious vehicle
Treadway Bridge steel treadway laid on pneumatic floats
[sic]Ponton Bridge heavy ponton(25 ton) and light ponton(10 ton)
  • Treadway bridge company
"How Tank-Carrying Bridges Are Built" , Popular Mechanics, December 1943

The company is attached to an armored division in river-crossing operations, to provide a bridge for heavy vehicles.

1 steel-treadway bridge M1, providing a floating bridge about 1.080 feet long
1 steel-treadway bridge M2, providing a floating bridge about 864 feet long.
Crossing the Meuse into Holland.jpg
Ponton Bridge
M1938 portable footbridge.jpg
M1938 foot bridge
  • Light ponton company

The company is attached to a division in river-crossing operations, to provide bridges and rafts.

2 units of M3 pneumatic bridge equipage
2 units of M1938 10-ton ponton bridge equipage

Stream-crossing equipment includes;

1 unit of footbridge, M1938
4 ferry set, No. 1, Infantry Support
12 raft, set No. 1, Infantry Support
70 assault boats, M2
  • Heavy ponton battalion

The battalion is attached to a corps in river-crossing operations, to provide a bridges and rafts capable of supporting heavier loads. Bridges and rafts are constructed of 25-ton ponton equipage.

4 units of heavy ponton equipage, 25-ton, M1940.
  • Airborne Engineer Battalion
       pneumatic reconnaissance boats
15    boat, reconnaissance, pneumatic, canvas, 2-man
14    boat, assault, M-2, with paddles and canvas bag

Maritime Commission[edit]

Liberty ship[edit]

Victory ship[edit]


Amphibious warfare type[edit]

LST disembark M4 Sherman tanks and other vehicles during the invasion of Noemfoor Island, 1944.
WWII British terminology
Amphibious Force Flagship
Landing Ship, Headquarters
Attack Transport
Landing Ship, Infantry

Amphibious warfare vessels include all ships having organic capability for amphibious warfare and which have characteristics enabling long duration operations on the high seas. There are two classifications of craft: amphibious warfare ships which are built to cross oceans, and landing craft, which are designed to take troops from ship to shore in an invasion. Some vessels called “landing ships” did not have the capability to off-load troops and supplies onto beaches; they were just transports or command-and-control vessels. [1][2][3][4]


Amphibious Force Flagship
class anewed (1969) too, LCC -- Amphibious Command Ship
Attack Cargo Ship
Attack Transport
High speed transport
Landing Ship, Dock
Landing Ship, Medium
LSMR or LSM(R) -- Landing Ship, Medium (Rocket)
Landing Ship, Tank
LSTH or LST(H) -- Landing Ship, Tank (Hospital)
Landing Ship, Vehicle
Landing Craft
Landing Craft, Control
Flotilla Flagship
Landing Craft, Infantry (Large)
class anewed (1949) too, LSI -- Landing Ship, Infantry
LCI(G)(M)(R) -- Landing Craft, Infantry (Gunboat) (Mortar) (Rocket)
Landing Craft, Mechanized
Landing Craft, Personnel (Large)
Landing Craft, Rubber (Small)
Landing Craft, Rubber (Large)
Landing Craft, Support (Small)
an LCP{L) conversion, fitted with heavy machine guns
Landing Craft, Support (Large)
class anewed (1949) too, LSSL -- Landing Ship, Support (Large)
Landing Craft, Tank
class anewed (1949) too, LSU -- Landing Ship, Utility
class anewed (1956) too, LCU -- Landing Craft, Utility
Landing Craft, Vehicle
LCVP or LCV(P) -- Landing Craft, Vehicle (Personnel)
an LCV, fitted with 1/4 inch armor
LCA -- Landing Craft, Assault (British term for LCVP)

Other types[edit]

Aircraft Carriers

Fleet Aircraft Carriers, Large CVB
Fleet Aircraft Carriers CV
Light Aircraft Carriers CVL
Escort Carriers CVE


Battleships BB


Large Cruisers CB
Heavy Cruisers CA
Light Cruisers CL


Destroyers DD
Destroyer Escorts DE


Submarines SS


Minelayers & Coastal Minelayers CM
Light Minelayers DM
Auxiliary Minelayers ACM
Minesweepers AM
Coastal Minesweepers AMc
Fast Minesweepers DMS
Motor Minesweepers YMS

Patrol Craft

Gunboats PG
Converted Yachts PG
Frigates PF
River Gunboats PR
Smaller Converted Yachts PY
Coastal Yachts PYc
Escort Patrol Craft PCE
Eagle Boats PE
Patrol Craft, Sweepers PCS
Motor Gunboats PGM

Submarine Chasers

Submarine Chasers (Steel Hull) PC
Submarine Chasers (Wooden Hull) SC

Motor Torpedo Boats

Motor Torpedo Boats PT
Motor Boat Submarine Chasers PTC


Crane Ship AB
Advanced Base Section Dock ABSD
Advanced Base Dock ABD
Destroyer Tenders AD
Ammunition Ships AE
Provision Store Ships AF
Auxiliary Floating Dock AFD
Large Auxiliary Floating Dock (non-self-propelled) AFDB
Small Auxiliary Floating Dock (non-self-propelled) AFDL
Medium Auxiliary Floating Dock (non-self-propelled) AFDM
Miscellaneous Auxiliaries AG
Amphibious Force Command Ships AGC
MTB Tenders AGP
Surveying Ships AGS

Hospital Ships

Hospital Ships AH

Cargo Ships

Cargo Ships AK
Attack Cargo Ships AKA
Net Cargo Ships AKN
General Stores Issue Ships AKS
Cargo Ships and Aircraft Ferries AKV

Net-Laying Ships AN Oilers & Tankers

Oilers AO
Gaoline Tankers AOG


Transports AP
Attack Transports APA
Self-Propelled Barracks Ships APB
Coastal Transports APc
High-Speed Transports APD
Evacuation Transports APH
Barracks Ships APL
Mechanized Artillery Transport APM
Transport Submarine APS
Aircraft Ferries APV

Repair Ships

Repair Ships AR
Battle-Damage Repair Ships ARB
Auxiliary Repair Dock (Concrete) ARDC
Internal Combustion Engine Repair Ships ARG
Heavy Hull Repair Ships ARH
Landing Craft Repair Ships ARL
Salvage Vessels ARS
Salvage Craft Tenders ARS(T)
Aircraft Repair Ships (Aircraft) ARV(A)
Aircraft Repair Ships (Engine) ARV(E)

Submarine Tenders & Rescue Vessels

Submarine Tenders AS
Submarine Rescue Vessels ASR


Auxiliary Tugs ATA
Fleet Ocean Tugs ATF
Old Ocean Tugs ATO
Rescue Tugs ATR

Seaplane Tenders & Aviation Supply Ships

Seaplane Tenders AV
Catapult Lighter AVC
Seaplane Tenders (Destroyers) AVD
Small Seaplane Tenders AVP
Aviations Supply Ships AVS

Distilling Ships

Distilling Ships AW

Unclassified Vessels

Unclassified Vessels IX

Yard and District Craft Coast Guard Cutters

Cruising Cutters WPG
Weather Patrol Ships WIX
Weather Patrol Cutters WPC
Icebreakers WAG

See also[edit]


  1. ^ General Instructions for Transports Cargo Vessels, and Landing Craft of Amphibious Forces
  2. ^ HyperWar Subject Index Amphibious Warfare
  3. ^ The Amphibious Revolution
  4. ^ Great-Grandad, What's An LSV?

External links[edit]