. Combat loading is a special type of unit loading of ships so that embarked forces will have immediately needed weapons, ammunition and supplies stowed in such a way that unloading of equipment will be concurrent with the force personnel and available for immediate combat during an amphibious landing. It gives primary consideration to the ease and sequence with which troops, equipment, and supplies can be unloaded ready for combat, rather than to the efficient use of cargo space as in convoy loading where forces and equipment would be joined in rear or secure areas. The art and science of combat loading were developed in World War II, and contributed greatly to the success ofAllied amphibious campaigns.
Joint exercises in 1941 resulted in a decision that the Navy would be responsible for providing the transports for joint operations against enemy resistance. As the war progressed specialized types of ships were developed for the United States Navy, generally termed combat loaders, and specifically designated APA (transport, attack), and AKA (cargo ship, attack).
When a ship is combat loaded, each item must be stored so it can be unloaded at a time and in a sequence that will most effectively support the planned activities ashore. Whenever possible, the loading scheme must also provide flexibility to accommodate changes in the tactical plan, and to allow access to cargo that is required to meet emergency calls for equipment or supplies.