List of World War II vessel types of the United States

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This is a List of World War II vessel types of the United States using during World War II. This list includes submarines, battleships, minelayers, oilers, barges, pontoon rafts and other types of water craft, boats and ships. As of 2014 this list is not 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 and later that same year, on July 31, the Transportation Corps was established.[1][2]

Coast Artillery Corps Mine Planter Service[edit]

The Army Mine Planter Service was responsible for the minefields 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 they mostly 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

One example is:

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

One example is:

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.[4]

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

Surviving examples include:


Transportation Corps - Water Division[edit]

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

Operated in the Southwest Pacific Area.[8]

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, use primitive landing places far up the coast of New Guinea, and land 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.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]

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

The Army Transport Service (ATS), originating with the Quartermaster Corps in 1898 and continuing into Transportation Corps as a division, operated the Army's large ships, most of which were transports, but ATS also manned the Army's large cable ships.

Troop ships

Troop ships included the following.[17][18][19]

USAT Orizaba in port, 1941
USS Orizaba (AP-24) underway at se, c. 1944

Surviving examples include:

Cargo ships over 1,000 tons

Cargo ships moved freight around the world.[20][21]

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

FM 55-130 Small Boats and Harbor Craft[22]

Harbor Vessels

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

Coastwise and inter-island cargo ships, sometimes known as coastal freighters.

Small Boat Company

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.[23][24][25][26]

  • Ferry
  • Tanker
  • Water Boat
  • Motor Launch
  • Seagoing Tug
  • Freight-Passenger Vessel
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[27]

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'

Surviving examples include:

  • LT-5 the only surviving Army vessel that participated in the D-Day Normandy landing.
  • LT-152[44]
  • LT-638[45]

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]

Rescue boats included the following.[46][47]

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.[48]

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

Surviving examples include:

Troops Division[edit]

The 1943 Engineer Field Manual described a table of organization and equipment for specialized types of engineering units.[49] These included:[50]

Port & Harbor Rehabilitation
For more details on Engineer Port Repair ships, see List of ships of the United States Army.

The engineer 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.[51][52][53][54][55][56]

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[57]

Surviving examples include:

  • Junior N. Van Noy, only one of the ten Port Repair Ships that was not a Maritime Commission type N3-M-A1 type conversion.
Near-short units

The Engineer Amphibian Brigade, redesignated in 1943 as Engineer Special Brigade provided 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
River crossing units
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 on board to "Storm the Shore"
DUKW A six-wheel-drive amphibious truck
Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) amphibious vehicle
Treadway Bridge steel treadway laid on pneumatic floats
Ponton bridge heavy ponton (25 ton) and light ponton (10 ton)
Treadway bridge company

A Treadway bridge company is attached to an armored division in river-crossing operations to provide a bridge for heavy vehicles.[58] Equipment included a steel-treadway bridge M1, providing a floating bridge about 1,080 feet long, or a steel-treadway bridge M2, providing a floating bridge about 864 feet long.

Crossing the Meuse into the Netherlands using a Ponton Bridge
An M1938 portable footbridge
Light ponton company

The company is attached to a division in river-crossing operations to provide bridges and rafts. Equipment included two units of M3 pneumatic bridge equipage or two units of M1938 10-ton ponton bridge equipment.

Their stream-crossing equipment included:

One unit of footbridge, M1938
Four ferry set, No. 1, Infantry Support
Twelve raft, set No. 1, Infantry Support
Seventy assault boats, M2
Heavy ponton battalion

The Heavy ponton battalion was attached to a corps in river-crossing operations to provide bridges and rafts capable of supporting heavier loads. Bridges and rafts are constructed of four units of 25-ton heavy ponton equipment, M1940.

  • Airborne Engineer Battalion (pneumatic reconnaissance boats)
  • Combat Engineer Battalion
  • 15 boat, reconnaissance, pneumatic, canvas, 2-man
  • 14 boat, assault, M-2, with paddles and canvas bag

Maritime Commission vessels[edit]

Vessels operated by the Maritime Commission included Liberty and Victory Ships.

Liberty ship[edit]

Surviving examples include:

Victory ship[edit]

Surviving examples include:


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 with 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. [59][60][61][62]


Landing Craft
  • class anewed[clarification needed] (1949) too, LSI—Landing Ship, Infantry
  • LCI(G)(M)(R)—Landing Craft, Infantry (Gunboat) (Mortar) (Rocket)
  • LCVP or LCV(P): Landing Craft, Vehicle (Personnel)

Other types[edit]

Aircraft Carriers

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. ^ Water Transportation - U.S. Army, 1939-1942, ASF
  2. ^ FM 21-6 List of Publications for Training - January 20, 1945
  3. ^ JMP-70
  4. ^ p262 The Signal Corps: The Outcome ( Mid-1943 through 1945 )
  5. ^ Apache (S-568, CSN-1)
  6. ^ FP-47 (S-430, CS-2)
  7. ^ A salute to the doyen of old paddle-steamers
  8. ^ U.S. Army Transportation in the Southwest Pacific Area 1941-1947
  9. ^ US Army Small Ships Section
  10. ^ The Formation and Operation of the US Army Small Ships in World War II
  11. ^ pp. 430, 448-53 The Transportation Corps: Operations Overseas
  12. ^ Coringle (S-31)
  13. ^ Jane Moorhead (S-63)
  14. ^ Will Watch (S-116)
  15. ^ Tuhoe (S-13 2) 1
  16. ^ Auxiliary schooner Tuhoe
  17. ^ Ships and Men of the Army Transport Service (ATS)
  18. ^ Army Transport Service WW II
  19. ^ Troops and Cargo Transported During World War II under U.S. Army Control
  20. ^ The Army's Cargo Fleet in World War II
  21. ^ FM 55-105 Water Transportation: Oceangoing Vessels (War Department 25SEPT1944)
  22. ^ FM 55-130 Small Boats and Harbor Craft January 31, 1944
  23. ^ Army FP/FS Vessels
  24. ^ p159 The Coast Guard at War, USCG crewed F ships
  25. ^ U.S. Army "FS" (Freight-Supply) Vessels Manned by Coast Guard crews
  26. ^ Menhaden fishing fleet of converted FS vessels
  27. ^ USAFS Major J. R. Wessely (FS-80)
  28. ^ F-76
  29. ^ F-76
  30. ^ FS-64
  31. ^ FS-64
  32. ^ FS-206
  33. ^ FS-206
  34. ^ FS-240
  35. ^ FS-244
  36. ^ FS244
  37. ^ FS-246
  38. ^ FS-246
  39. ^ T-57
  40. ^ T-89
  41. ^ T-147
  42. ^ TP-225
  43. ^ TP-225
  44. ^ LT-152
  45. ^ LT-638
  46. ^ p131 The 10th ERBS in Alaska
  47. ^ P-239
  48. ^ Historic Ships To Visit - Army Corps Of Engineers
  49. ^ FM 5-5,C1..C5
  50. ^ port construction and repair group
  51. ^ Port Restoration - WWII
  52. ^ The dredge "William L. Marshall" in World War II
  53. ^ The Corps of Engineers: The War Against Germany: CHAPTER XVI Developing Beaches and Reconstructing Ports
  54. ^ The District, A History of the Philadelphia District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1866-1971, Marine Design - Unique Mission
  55. ^ United States Army in World War II - The Corps of Engineers: Troops and Equipment - Chapter XVII - Preparing to Reconstruct Ports
  56. ^ Historic Dredging Photos
  57. ^ Chester Harding (dredge)
  58. ^ "How Tank-Carrying Bridges Are Built" Popular Mechanics, December 1943
  59. ^ General Instructions for Transports Cargo Vessels, and Landing Craft of Amphibious Forces
  60. ^ HyperWar Subject Index Amphibious Warfare
  61. ^ The Amphibious Revolution
  62. ^ Great-Grandad, What's An LSV?

External links[edit]

This article incorporates text from one or more United States military publications now in the public domain.