“Higgins boats” were developed by Louisiana boat builder Andrew Jackson Higgins. New Orleans-based Higgins Industries created the shallow-bottomed boats to help hunters, oil-drillers, and loggers navigate swamps and marshes. Others speculate the boats may have often been used by “rum-runners” during Prohibition.
After struggling to sell to the military for years, Higgins finally caught the eye of US Marine Corps evaluators in 1938. They wanted combat versions of the vessel for deploying troops and equipment from ship to shore. Designated LCVPs, the shallow-draft landing craft needed just a few feet of water deposit combat equipment and men at an invasion beachhead.
LCVPs participated in every major amphibious landing operation in Europe and the Pacific, including the Normandy Invasion. This small boat changed the course of the war. Dwight D. Eisenhower commented years later, “If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVPs, we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy would have been different.”
Over 12,500 LCVPs were made by seven different plants during World War II.