USS Berrien (APA-62)

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USS Berrien APA-62.jpg
USS Berrien (APA-62) at anchor, date and location unknown
Career (USA)
Name: USS Berrien (APA-62)
Namesake: Counties in Georgia and Michigan
Builder: Consolidated Steel
Laid down: 23 February 1944
Launched: 20 May 1944
Sponsored by: Mrs. Jack Love
Acquired: 7 October 1944
Commissioned: 8 October 1944
Decommissioned: 17 May 1946
Struck: 1 August 1947
Honours and
awards:
Two battle stars for World War II service
Fate: Sold for scrapping, 17 May 1966
General characteristics
Class & type: Gilliam-class attack transport
Tonnage: 85,000 cu. ft., 600 t.
Displacement: 4,247 tons (lt), 7,080 t.(fl)
Length: 426 ft (130 m)
Beam: 58 ft (18 m)
Draft: 16 ft (4.9 m)
Propulsion: Westinghouse turboelectric drive, 2 boilers, 2 propellers, Design shaft horsepower 6,000
Speed: 17 knots
Capacity: 47 Officers, 802 Enlisted
Crew: 27 Officers, 295 Enlisted
Armament: 1 x 5"/38 caliber dual-purpose gun mount, 4 x twin 40mm gun mounts, 10 x single 20mm gun mounts
Notes: MCV Hull No. 1855, hull type S4-SE2-BD1

USS Berrien (APA-62) was a Gilliam-class attack transport that served with the US Navy during World War II.

Berrien was named after counties in Georgia and Michigan. She was launched 20 March 1944 under a Maritime Commission contract by the Consolidated Steel Corporation at Wilmington, California; acquired by the Navy on 7 October 1944; and commissioned on 8 October 1944, with Lieutenant Commander John Murray Gallagher USNR in command. The ship was nicknamed the "Mighty B" and the "Blue Bitch".

Operational history[edit]

World War II[edit]

Invasion of Iwo Jima[edit]

She departed Pearl Harbor for operations in the Pacific on 27 January 1945. Berrien arrived in time to participate in the invasion of Iwo Jima. It was during this campaign, on the night of 21 February 1945, that the ship was hit with a shell on her after deckhouse. Seventeen of the crew were wounded and all received the Purple Heart.[citation needed]

Invasion of Okinawa[edit]

Approximately one month later, the ship was again on her way into enemy territory with Transport Squadron 15 as part of the invasion of Okinawa. On Easter Sunday morning, the Berrien and other ships of the task force appeared off the southwest shores of Okinawa as part of a feint to throw enemy forces off balance and help pave the way for the main landings on the western beaches of Hagushi. On that morning, 2 ships were hit with kamikaze planes. The feint succeeded and was used again the next day. This worked well and losses were minimal.

The ship cruised offshore for about a week, awaiting orders to proceed to Hagushi to unload her cargo. She was sent into enemy waters instead, accompanied by a destroyer escort and the destroyers USS Ammen and USS Brown. While en route, Berrien encountered a mine and had a near miss with 4 torpedoes from a Japanese submarine. She arrived at Okinawa and stayed there for 10 days. While there, she was under constant attack from shore batteries and kamikazes. She received a hit near her stacks which wounded a radioman, making him the 18th man of the Berrien to receive the Purple Heart.[citation needed]

Air-sea rescue[edit]

From Okinawa, she sailed back to Saipan, and then received orders to head to the South Pacific. The ship had her crew initiated from 'pollywogs' into respectable 'shellbacks' at the Equator. From Tulagi she steamed to Noumea, New Caledonia, then back to the Mariana Islands. On the morning of 3 July, on the way into Guam, she participated in the air-sea rescue of 10 Army fliers. From Guam she returned to the US. While in San Francisco, the cease fire order was given on the Pacific front.

After hostilities[edit]

Berrien returned to the Pacific and headed to Manila, then to Aomori, Japan as part of the initial allied landings in northern Honshū. From there, she steamed north to Otaru, in Hokkaidō, northernmost of the main Japanese home islands, for another initial landing on Nippon soil. At this point, the crew was asked if they wished to take part in the Bikini Atoll tests. There were not enough volunteers to man the ship, so she received orders to sail from Otaru into Tokyo Bay to load up with Marines and sailors returning to their homes in the states. She docked in Seattle, Wa. where she received many new crew members to replace ones going home, and a new captain. She returned to the Orient and was in Shanghai, China on the Huangpu River in February, 1946. She returned to the States shortly after. She had 166 plank owners, and of 321 enlisted, 173 were with her from commissioning, and 20 of the 31 officers.

Decommission[edit]

She was decommissioned in May 1946, returned to the Maritime Commission on 12 August 1947, and placed in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet. She participated in the Fleet Repair Program from 11 July 1955 to 28 October 1955 until returned to Suisun Bay. She was sold as scrap to Zidell Explorations, Inc. on 17 May 1966 and delivered 16 August 1966.

Decorations[edit]

Berrien received two battle stars for World War II service in the Pacific Theatre.

References[edit]

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

USS Berrien 'News Of The Day' paper. 15 Dec. 1945

USS Berrien Navy Day paper, 27 Oct. 1945

Personal diary of S1c William Laughlin 24 May,44 - 4 46 June