On board are sailors and Marines, wound up tight like a coiled spring in anticipation of "hitting the beach." Their tension sharply contrasts the effortless motion of their vessel as it skims over the water on a cushion of air. The cloud of sea spray turns to sand as it glides onto the beach. Shortly afterwards, Marines disembark with their equipment from what is now seen as a hovercraft.
Maintaining an LCAC requires a dedicated staff, and the sailors of Assault Craft Unit (ACU) FOUR make sure their vehicles get the Marines where they're going.
A relatively new concept of naval warfare
ACU FOUR is part of an Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG), whose mission is to project a Navy presence with a littoral (land to sea) combat posture of readiness, combining the assets of surface and amphibious vessels as part of a relatively new concept of naval warfare.
"My unit comprises the main battery of the amphibious ships by transporting Marines and their equipment from the sea to shore across 70 percent of the world's beaches," said Saat, a 1989 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
"We support the War on Terror by providing personnel on temporary duty and serving as a logistic transport in theater."
Saat has the rare opportunity to work closely with a unique part of the Navy's arsenal, but there are challenges, even in an ideal working environment.
"I enjoy working with the sailors most," said the husband of Terri Saat. "There is a tremendous amount of talent at ACU FOUR. The sailors here constantly amaze me with their skills, positive attitude and desire to be the best. Watching the sailors accomplish their work in an efficient manner is always exciting."
According to Saat, working around hovercrafts is very interesting, since he is able to work on them and fly on them as well. ACU FOUR's mission is crucial to any Navy warfighting strategy, as they are primarily a support unit.
Saat and his shipmates get to see first hand the importance of their work when they take Marines and their equipment to the mission.
Since 1775, the Navy and the Marines have been a team promoting freedom and democracy around the world. Although the technology has changed, sailors like Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Saat are an important aspect of that partnership.