PHILIPPINE SEA (Sept. 10, 2014) Marines, assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU), depart the well deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) in combat rubber raiding crafts during amphibious operations. Germantown is part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group and is conducting joint forces exercises in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda R. Gray/Released) -Click to big up-
Each of the 7 Marine Expeditionary Units (a battalion landing team with a bunch of stuff bolted onto it and a harrier/helicopter airwing for support) has a bunch of different ways to get to the beach. These include of course the choppers, navy landing craft (LCU, LCAC, etc), and the Marines own amtrac swimming APCs. However, each one of these MAUs also has 18 of these little rubber zodiac-style boats, designated Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC, or ‘Crick’). Just 15.5-feet long and powered by an outboard (or two) these can motor out from a task force still some 20 miles out at sea and approach an enemy-held beach, port, or vessel with a very little footprint. They are hard to spot by eyeball, radar, or other means, especially in a light chop state. It’s a wet ride for the Marines aboard and anyone who has ever ridden one through the surf doesn’t look forward to doing it a second time– especially on a contested beach.
PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 30, 2013) Marines from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (13th MEU) depart from the stern gate of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) in a combat rubber raiding craft (CRRC).U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian P. Biller/Released) -click to big up-
For landings, a company of the battalion landing team is designated the “Boat Company” and they spend a couple weeks figuring these boats out. This includes sending as many as 36 of its force before deployment through a four-week coxswains school where they learn seanav, and what not to do with these temperamental craft and others to scout swimmer school where they learn the finer points of exiting a rubber raft on fins and doing frogman shit.
In the end, Cricks allow a 144-man company to be landed on a strip of beach or empty pier in three, six-boat waves. The former was done under OOTW conditions by Marines in Somalia in 1992.
Air transportable, Cricks can be slid out the rear ramp of larger (think CH-46 and bigger) helicopters or parachuted from cargo planes such as the C-130 (and Navy C-2 CODs), can be launched from surface vessels such ranging from Amphibious assault ships (shown) or smaller craft like patrol boats, LCS and frigates. They can also be (and are) carried up from submerged submarines by divers for inflation on the surface.