The Crew
About The Landing Craft Infantry




The Landing Craft Infantry (LCI), small in comparison to other ships, was affectionately called an "Elsie" or "Spitkit".  These "New Ships of War", known for being part of the "Waterbug" Navy during World War II, were considered absolutely essential ships if the invasion of France, originally planned for February 1943, was to be successful. Therefore, building them for this task was established as a top priority. However, when the decision was made to postpone the cross-channel invasion of France, they were quickly dispatched to the Mediterranean where they were desperately needed.

The first American Flotilla of these ships crossed the Atlantic and arrived in North Africa in late March 1943. Although the ocean crossing in these flat bottomed ships was especially rough on young sailors, the ships proved seaworthy enough to cross the Atlantic Ocean and were quickly deployed into service. (These ships also crossed the Pacific Ocean). The Life Magazine Cover (March 27, 1944) on the right shows the LCI (L) 220 during the Invasion of Sicily. Inside the magazine, beginning on Page 53, the story of the USS LCI (L) 226 can be found.

During World War II there were 923 LCIs built by ten shipyards.  The Shipbuilding History provides a complete list of the LCIs built, the shipyard's location, the delivery month and year and the ships final disposition.  For additional information related to each of the individual Landing Craft Infantry Large ships built including the Ship's history, specifications, any awards, citations, and campaigns as well as any available photograph of the ship can be viewed at The NavSource Photo Archives. (The site contains the index for all LCIs.)

Note:  There are currently 2 known restored Landing Craft Infantry Ships:    The LCI 1091 and the LCI 713.  The LCI 713 is being restored by the Amphibious Forces Museum and is almost complete. 

Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1940-1945 provides a description of LCIs and other details related to LCIs as well as for other US Navy ships employed during the war.

Landing Craft Training for Officers and Crew

It was essential that the officers and crew of LCIs receive appropriate training in handling and maneuvering these "New Ships of War".  This was especially true for the complicated shore to shore landings that would be required. The training for amphibious landings was conducted at the Amphibious Training Base in Little Creek, Virginia.

Amphibious Training Base - Little Creek, VA

The Little Creek, VA Amphibious Training Base, 12 miles northeast of Norfolk was established sometime after July 16, 1942. From what was once just a waterlogged bean field of the Whitehurst farm emerged the largest base of its kind in the world. The new Amphibious Training Base commonly referred to as "Little Creek" was used to train ship's crews for all types of landing craft, including Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) during WW II.

The need for landing large numbers of troops on foreign shores became increasingly apparent to Navy planners especially if the invasion of France, which was originally considered for 1943, was to be successful. Such large scale "shore to shore" landing operations would be difficult and require sufficient training. Navy personnel had to "reinvent the wheel" and develop appropriate training techniques for the complicated amphibious assaults contemplated. Early training conditions were primitive for those trained in 1942. During World War II, Little Creek trained over 200,000 Naval personnel and 160,000 Army and Marine Corps personnel.

Organizing Landing Craft Infantry for Amphibious Assaults

The following gives some limited information regarding the preparations made for organizing the Landing Craft Infantry in anticipation of the amphibious assaults that would eventually occur in Sicily, Italy, Normandy as well as the Pacific Theater in 1943 and 1944.

LCI Flotilla Organized

Flotilla One, as organized on December 12, 1942, had its designation changed to Flotilla Two on January 1, 1943 and placed under the command of Lorenzo Sherwood Sabin Jr.

When the original Flotilla 1 was organized at Little Creek, VA it was as LCI Group 1 composed of 17 LCIs. After the Flotilla designation was changed to Flotilla 2 on January 1, 1943, an additional 9 LCI's were added to the Group.

The composition of the Task Group 30.15 for LCI (L) Flotilla Two now included the following 26 LCIs:

LCIs 1 through 16, 209, and 211 through  219

The following ships were part of the Task Group escort for these LCIs:

USS Cole DD, USS Moreno AT, USS Chickadee AM, USS Effective AM and USS SC 679

From the War Diary of Commander Lorenzo Sherwood Sabin Jr., USN

This Task Group was the first group of American LCIs to cross the Atlantic Ocean departing the Virginia Capes on February 15th. The ocean crossing could only be described as a real "adventure" for the inexperienced crew where almost 80 percent of the officers and crew were seasick during the crossing. Commander Sabin was impressed with the "spirit and resourcefulness of the crew" during the crossing and now called them "sailormen" because they stick to it in adverse conditions.

Flotilla Two Commander Sabin's War Notes provided further elaboration on the crossing when he stated:


...So we went to sea. The lawyers, the bankers, the garage mechanics, the farmers, the salesmen, and me. In our little spitkits, we struck out boldly if not fearfully..." On the seasickness of the sailors he simply stated "They've got no guts left, these kids. They've spilled them all. But they've got what it takes. Fine spirit. Game guys. Big men in little ships. American youth, learning the hardest way of all, on the high seas in a spitkit through the war zone. They take it all in stride and somehow (God only knows) they manage to smile. Somehow, go below feeling that's why we'll win this war. No one can beat that kind of stuff!

From Samuel Eliot Morison

Vol. II - History of United States Naval Operations in World War II (Operations in North African Waters)

Landing Craft Infantry - Purpose and Use

Although designed primarily to transport and land about 200 fully equipped infantry troops directly on enemy beaches during amphibious operations as depicted by the Life Magazine Cover above, LCIs were also used as rocket, gun, mortar, demolition, mine hunter, depth charge and smoke laying ships. Some were also converted to Flotilla Flag Ships. Landing Craft Infantry (Rocket) 77 and 78 are seen in the photo right.

The first of the approximately 1000 of these ships to be built between 1942 and 1944 was the LCI (L) 209 which was commissioned on October 1, 1942. The second one built, LCI (L) 1 was unfortunately the first LCI sunk as a result of enemy action on August 17, 1943 in Bizerte Harbor (Africa)* The Group 4 War Diary of E. W. Wilson, Lt. Commander, USNR noted the sinking with the following entry:


USS LCI (L) #1, a most gallant and fighting ship, a ship that brought out what's in the heart of every true-blooded American during the SICILIAN CAMPAIGN-To fight on and on and on, whatever the odds may be - was hit and sank. Fortunately, though, through the help of LCIs 236 and 324 and the merchant ship, USS PAINE WINGATE, all members of the ship were rescued, some being seriously injured...

-- War Diary E.W. Wilson, Lt Commander, USNR

*Coincidently, August 17th was also the day that Stanley Galik (Dad) was received aboard the LCI (L) 35 after being transferred from the LCI Flotilla Two Staff (Pool) in Bizerte, Tunisia.

Landing Craft Infantry (Large) Information

LCIs 75_232_229_35_193_238 Transferred to British

LCIs 75, 231, 229, 35, 193, and 238

Queenborough Pier - Sheerness, England

Photo Courtesy of Philip Reed, MoMM 1/c

US LCI (L) 35

This Group of LCIs was transferred to the British in November 1944

In another strange coincidence, the LCI (L) 229 is on the starboard side of the LCI (L) 35. My father, Stanley Galik, Ships Cook 2/c crossed the Atlantic Ocean aboard the LCI (L) 229 but served on the LCI (L) 35 from August 17, 1943 until the ship was decommissioned on November 15, 1944. It was interesting seeing them side-by-side prior to their decommissioning.

The following are some details for the Landing Craft Infantry

Item Details
Displacement 387 Tons
Length 158' (23'3" wide at middle - 1/4" steel plate skin)
Draft 5'4 Forward
Speed 15.5 knots
Armament 4 - 20 MM
Complement 3 Officers and 21 Enlisted
Capacity 6 Officers and 182 Troops or 75 Tons of Cargo
Engines 2 Sets of G.M. Diesel Engines, Twin Variable Pitch Screws, 1600 BHP
Range Endurance Range of 8000 Miles at 12 knots
Other Carried 110 Tons of Fuel Oil, 240 Tons of Lube Oil and 37 Tons of Fresh Water


The LCI, with its flat-bottom hull, was able to make quick beach landings and disembark troops in about 10 minutes using ramps lowered on either side of the ship's bow. During invasions, the ship would drop a stern anchor that would be used to pull the LCI off the beach after troops disembarked. Large numbers of LCIs, using their power, speed and maneuverability, participated in landings in Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and later in Normandy and Southern France. The LCI also played a key role in amphibious landings in the Pacific Theater where they successfully overcame the many demands of traveling greater distances than required for beach landing in Sicily, Italy, and France.

LCIs proved their value during WWII but not without suffering losses and casualties. Although only 21 LCIs were actually sunk from enemy action, many more suffered damage from being shot up, bombed, torpedoed, and struck by underwater mines as well as being targets for kamikaze planes. Approximately 160 sailors lost their lives while serving on these ships. The Honor Roll of those Killed in Action obtained from the "The Story of a New Ship of War" is on the right.

Photo of USS LCI (L) 35
"Dad's Ship"

The LCI (L) 35 shown on the right was built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation at Camden, NJ and commissioned on January 28, 1943. The degaussing operations were carried out at Philadelphia's Pier 46 on February 4, 1943.

Stanley Galik, SC 2/c served on the LCI (L) 229 and the LCI (L) 35 during WW II. Dad crossed the Atlantic with the USS LCI (L) 229 arriving in Tenes, Algeria as part of Flotilla I Group 3 of Task Force 60 (Task Unit 60.2.4) in the 3rd Landing Craft Convoy. Dad arrived aboard the LCI (L) 35 on August 17, 1943 and remained until the ship's decommissioning on Wednesday November 15, 1944.

Life Aboard USS LCI 35

Life aboard an LCI (L) including the USS LCI (L) 35 was rather basic with only enough space for sleeping, eating and transporting troops. The crew slept in bunks 3 high in a 23x20 foot space. However, there was little available space for the officers and crew to relax. In the picture on the right, LCI 35 Executive Officer Lowell "E" Miller and Earl Eichorn, QM 1/c are shown relaxing on board while in port.

The ship did not have a movie projector or even a washing machine for laundry. Frozen food was stored in a 20 cubic foot chest freezer (when it wasn't broken) that also served as the base for a mess table for crew meals. In the Galley, the Ship's cooks, including my father, used a four burner oil stove to prepare meals for a crew of 20-30 sailors and the 3-6 officers on board. The crew's quarters were heated by a small oil stove in the corner of the berthing compartment with smoke dispersed through a deck smoke stack.

Commander Lorenzo Sherwood Sabin Jr. commented on LCIs when he said:


You know, of course, how interestingly stuffy, cramped and uncomfortable they are. Tough and sturdy. You know as Training Officer, they are supposed to be (and are) sea-going and expendable. But there are a few things you don't know which I found out day after day and night after night and week after week.

Besides preparing for inspections, the crew's normal duties included cleaning, maintenance, repairs, painting, and other deck duties. Crews were assigned specific battle stations during invasions or when under enemy attack. Dad's duties were described as "first aid".

After reveille and breakfast the crew's "normal" day usually began at 0800 and ended at 1600 when those eligible would be granted liberty (if feasible) to relax and participate in other "recreation" activities. Lights out occurred at 2200 or 2300.

Life Magazine Mar 27, 1944

Life Magazine - March 27, 1944

Cover Showing LCI 220 Unloading Troops During the Invasion of Sicily- July 1943

New York Times Magazine - LCI 36

New York Times Magazine Cover

LCI 36 Unloading Troops During the Invasion of Sicily - July 1943

Match box cover Amphibious Training Base

Match Box Cover

From Amphibious Training Base

Little Creek, VA


Phil Reed - LCI 35

Philip Reed - LCI 35


These photos were graciously provided by Philip Reed, MoMM 1/c of USS LCI (L) 35.  In these photos taken inside the LCI 35, Phil Reed (above) is seen relaxing in the engine room and George MacNeal, RM 2/c (below) is seen working in the radio room.

George MacNeal in the Radio Room of LCI 35

George MacNeal - LCI 35

LCI Rocket Ship 77 and 78
LCI (R) 77 and 78

LCI Blueprint From National Archives
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Side View - Click to Enlarge

LCI Side View

From the Story of a New Ship of War
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Top Side View - Click to Enlarge

LCI Top Side View

From the Story of a New Ship of War
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LCI Crew Killed in Action - Click to Enlarge
LCI Crewman Killed in Action
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The LCI 35 Ship
The LCI 35 Docked
Stanley Galik (Dad) ships cook 2/c
Stanley Galik (Dad), Ship's Cook 2/c
Lowell Miller and Earl Eichorn Resting in Port

Lowell Miller and Earl Eichorn

Resting in Port

T H E   L I F E   O F   S T A N L E Y   G A L I K  
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