USS Custer (APA-40)
USS Custer at anchor, 24 July 1943, location unknown
|Namesake:||Counties in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and South Dakota|
|Ordered:||as type (C3-S-A2) hull, MC hull 388|
|Builder:||Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi|
|Laid down:||as SS Sea Eagle|
|Launched:||6 November 1942|
|Sponsored by:||Mrs. L. S. Border|
|Acquired:||by the U.S. Navy 23 January 1943 as Naval Transport (AP-85)|
|Commissioned:||18 July 1943 as USS Custer (APA-40)|
|Decommissioned:||24 May 1946|
|Reclassified:||Attack Transport (APA-40), 1 February 1943|
|Six battle stars for service in World War II.|
|Fate:||sold for commercial service in 1948|
|Class & type:||Bayfield-class attack transport|
|Tons burthen:||16,100 tons|
|Length:||492 ft (150 m)|
|Beam:||69 ft 6 in (21.18 m)|
|Draft:||26 ft 6 in (8.08 m)|
|Propulsion:||General Electric geared turbine, 2 x Combustion Engineering D-type boilers, single propeller, designed shaft horsepower 8,500|
|Boats & landing
|12 x LCVP, 4 x LCM (Mk-6), 3 x LCP(L) (MK-IV)|
|Capacity:||4,700 tons (200,000 cu. ft).|
|Complement:||Crew: 51 officers, 524 enlisted
Flag: 43 officers, 108 enlisted.
Troops: 80 officers, 1,146 enlisted
|Armament:||20mm AA gun mounts.|
USS Custer (AP-85/APA-40) was a Bayfield-class attack transport that served with the U.S. Navy during World War II in the Pacific Ocean theatre of operations. She carried troops into invasion areas and landed them, and, for this dangerous work, she returned home for decommissioning post-war with six battle stars to her credit.
Built at Pascagoula, Mississippi
Custer (AP-85) was launched as Sea Eagle 6 November 1942 by Ingalls Shipbuilding Co., Pascagoula, Mississippi, under a U.S. Maritime Commission contract; sponsored by Mrs. L. S. Border; acquired by the Navy 23 January 1943; and commissioned in full 18 July 1943, Captain R. E. Hansen, in command. Reclassified APA-40, 1 February 1943.
World War II operations
Departing Norfolk, Virginia, 11 December 1943, Custer arrived at Pearl Harbor 10 January 1944, carrying Seabees. She loaded troops at Honolulu and sortied 23 January as a part of Task Force 51 for the Marshall Islands operation. Held in reserve during the invasion of Kwajalein, she landed her troops on Eniwetok on 19 February and embarked casualties, with whom she returned to Pearl Harbor 6 March.
After sailing to embark men and cargo at San Francisco, California, Custer joined in amphibious training exercises in the Hawaiian Islands, and arrived at Kwajalein 9 June. She put to sea 2 days later for the assaults on Saipan and later on Guam, transporting troops and evacuating casualties to Eniwetok until her return to Pearl Harbor 7 August.
Custer sailed from Pearl Harbor 15 September 1944 by way of Eniwetok and Manus for the invasion landings on Leyte of 20 and 21 October. Safely out of Leyte Gulf before the great battle for its possession, she loaded reinforcements at Humboldt Bay, New Guinea, from 26 October to 14 November, then landed them on Leyte 18 November.
After replenishing at Manus and training at Huon Gulf, New Guinea., Custer sailed on 31 December for the invasion landings at Lingayen Gulf of 9 to 12 January 1945. She operated in the Philippine Islands, participating in the unopposed landings at La Paz, Zambales, on 29 January and acting as mother ship for landing craft and coordinating cargo activities at Tarraguna, from 13 to 20 February.
Custer sailed from Leyte Gulf 27 March 1945 for the invasion of Okinawa. From 1 to 6 April she landed troops and cargo and fought off air attacks during the initial landings, then sailed for a stateside overhaul. Departing San Diego, California, 5 August, she embarked troops at Pearl Harbor for the occupation of Japan, landing them at Sasebo, Japan. She sailed to transport troops from Manila to Sasebo, Japan, then embarked homeward bound servicemen for San Pedro, California, arriving 21 November.
Custer was decommissioned 24 May 1946 and transferred to the U.S. Maritime Commission for disposal 11 September 1946.
Honors and awards
Custer received six battle stars for World War II service.
- Marshall Islands operation - Occupation of Eniwetok Atoll, 19 February 1945
- Marianas operation - Capture and occupation of Saipan, 11 June 1944 –
- Capture and occupation of Guam, 12 July 1944
- Leyte operation - Leyte landings, 20 to 21 October and 18 November 1944
- Luzon operation - Lingayen Gulf landings, 9 to 12 January 1945
- Manila Bay-Bicol operation - Zambales-Subic Bay, La Paz landing, 29 January 1945
- Okinawa Gunto operation - Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto, 1 to 6 April 1945
Qualified Custer personnel were eligible for the following:
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive - AP-85 / APA-40 Custer