Project Hula was only terminated on September 4, two days after the official Japanese surrender on the USS Missouri, having trained 12,000 Soviet sailors and transferred 149 ships into Soviet hands. Four months later, the U.S. Navy began demanding the return of the ships.
However, a little thing called the Cold War had by then begun to gum up U.S.-Soviet cooperation. Twenty-seven of the patrol frigates were finally returned in October 1949, minus one which had run aground. Fifteen of the twenty-five surviving Landing Craft wouldn’t follow until 1955. By then the vessels were in such poor condition the U.S. Navy didn’t even wish to incur the expense of scrapping them, so the remaining ninety vessels were scuttled or sold for scrap back to the Soviets.
Though Soviet military leaders briefly considered landing troops on the home island of Hokkaido, thirty LCIs would have proven inadequate for all but a token Soviet presence. Besides, some considered that a Soviet presence on the home islands had by then been ruled out at the Yalta Conference. However, the amphibious craft did enable the landing on the Kuril Islands, reshaping international boundaries. Japan still maintains the Kurils are part of its northern territories in a dispute with Russia that continues to this day.
Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.