The LCU Mk9 was built for use on the LPD's HMS Fearless and Intrepid where they were operated from the dock in the rear of the ships. Each ship carried four LCU's and four davit mounted LCVP's. The Mk9 was to see many changes and upgrades during its service including a move from propeller to jet in many cases.
The main training centre for the craft would be Poole in Dorset where the Royal Marines would be trained to handle and crew the Landing Craft. The Mk9 was capable of traveling as an Ocean going vessel and a number would be converted into a version, affectionatly known as the "Black Pig", for use in Norway. The crew had full living quarters aboard with galley and heads. The opinion that the successful British amphibious operations during the Falklands War were only possible because of the two LPD's and their landing craft is well documented. The Mk9, like the LPD's served longer than ever anticipated providing the backbone of Britains amphibious assault capabilities. The Falklands War proved the need for the continued role for sea borne assault.
LANDING CRAFT, VEHICLE and PERSONNEL
The LCVP was built by the Dorset Yacht Company at Poole in 1965. Powered by two Foden diesel engines, LCVPs Mk2s could carry 35 fully equipped Royal Marines Commandos or two Landrovers.
In 1982 four LCVPs carried by assault ship HMS Fearless during the Falklands conflict. They took part in the initial landings at San Carlos on 21st May, taking Royal Marines of 40 Commando and men of the Parachute Regiment to the beaches. On 24th May they helped evacuate the crew of HMS Antelope when an unexploded bomb detonated and the ship caught fire. The Royal Marines Coxswain, Corporal Alan White, received a commendation from the Task Force Commander, Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse, for his part in rescuing 41 crew from the Antelope. F7 continued to ferry men and supplies throughout the Falklands conflict and was also employed on mine clearance duties.
During the Falklands Conflict, Foxtrot 7 survived many Argentinian air attacks on the Task Force. Corporal Alan White RM, describes one lucky escape when two Argentinian A4 Skyhawks appeared:
"We started zig-zagging vigorously because they were firing... the rounds were going very close to our heads, then there was an almighty whooshand we were soaked from the water that came down, and I actually thought that one of the A4s had dropped a bomb. It was later that I found that it was an A4 hitting the water, because he'd been taken out by a missile from one of our ships, and he'd landed literally 50 feet in front of us."
LCVP Foxtrot 7 is on permanent display at the Royal Marines Museum