A day after Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, New Orleans-based shipbuilder Andrew Higgins filed an idea with the US Patent Office for a landing craft that could transport US soldiers from ships at sea to enemy-controlled beaches.
Two and a half years later, on the morning of June 6, 1944, the LCVPs — short for Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel — designed and built by Higgins’ firm were unloading wave after wave of American GIs on Normandy’s Utah Beach during the D-Day landings.
Equipped with an innovative ramp design, two .30-caliber machine guns, and room for some 36 infantrymen, “Higgins Boats” proved instrumental on D-Day. Those landings, still the largest seaborne invasion in history, were a major turning point in the war.
The Normandy invasion was a harrowing task of unprecedented scale.
To succeed, the Allies needed the ability to put troops, vehicles, and other equipment ashore on beaches littered with fortifications and obstacles emplaced by the Nazi defenders. Higgins’ landing craft made this possible.
Gen. Dwight Eisenhower later referred to Higgins as “the man who won the war for us.” The shipbuilder’s reputation extended to Germany, where Adolf Hitler begrudgingly complimented him as “the New Noah.”
Who was Andrew Higgins?
Higgins manufactured more than 20,000 boats during his decades-long career. His landing craft were used in every major amphibious assault of World War II, from the shores of Europe to the Pacific islands.
“He was the right person with the right ideas and the right drive at the right time,” Joshua Schick, curator and restoration manager at the National World War II Museum mentioned.