USS Marion County (LST-975)

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For ships with a similar name, see USS Marion.
LST-975.jpg
LST-975 underway, date and location unknown
Career (USA)
Name: USS LST-975
Builder: Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard
Laid down: 1 December 1944
Launched: 6 January 1945
Commissioned: 3 February 1945
Decommissioned: 16 April 1946
Recommissioned: 28 August 1950
Decommissioned: 10 May 1956
In service: 10 May 1956
Out of service: 26 September 1957
Renamed: USS Marion County (LST-975), 1 July 1955
Struck: 1 June 1963
Honors and
awards:
6 battle stars (Korea)
Fate: Transferred to South Vietnam, 17 December 1963
Career (South Vietnam) Ensign of South Vietnam
Name: RVNS Cam Ranh (HQ-500)
Acquired: 17 December 1963
Fate: Escaped to the Philippines, April 1975
Career (Philippines) Ensign of the Philippines
Name: BRP Zamboanga Del Sur (LT-86)
Acquired: 17 November 1975
Status: Active in service as of 2010
General characteristics
Class & type: LST-542-class tank landing ship
Displacement: 1,625 long tons (1,651 t) light
4,080 long tons (4,145 t) full
Length: 328 ft (100 m)
Beam: 50 ft (15 m)
Draft: Unloaded :
2 ft 4 in (0.71 m) forward
7 ft 6 in (2.29 m) aft
Loaded :
8 ft 2 in (2.49 m) forward
14 ft 1 in (4.29 m) aft
Propulsion: 2 × General Motors 12-567 diesel engines, two shafts, twin rudders
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
2 × LCVPs
Troops: 16 officers, 147 enlisted men
Complement: 7 officers, 104 enlisted men
Armament: • 8 × 40 mm guns
• 12 × 20 mm guns

USS Marion County (LST-975) was an LST-542-class tank landing ship built for the United States Navy during World War II. Named after counties in seventeen U.S. states, she was the only U.S. Naval vessel to bear the name.

Originally laid down as LST-975 by the Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyards, Inc. of Hingham, Massachusetts on 1 December 1944; launched on 6 January 1945, sponsored by Miss Alice J. Varian; and commissioned on 3 February 1945 with Lieutenant David S. Stanley in command.

World War II[edit]

After shakedown in Chesapeake Bay, LST-975 departed New York on 27 March 1945 for the Pacific, via the Panama Canal, arriving Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 1 May for amphibious warfare exercises in the Maui area. She steamed to Seattle, Washington, arriving on 13 June to embark 119 Army troops and equipment. Sailing on 28 June via Hawaii, Eniwetok, and Saipan, she arrived Okinawa on 17 August, two days after the Japanese surrender.

On the 23rd she got underway for Saipan to embark men and equipment of the 2nd Marine Division for the occupation of Japan. LST-975 reached Nagasaki on 24 September and began unloading. Two days later she continued on to the Philippines, entering San Pedro Bay, Leyte Gulf, on 7 October. LST-975 again got underway for Japan six days later, embarked men and equipment of the United States Army's 52nd Field Artillery Battalion at Mindanao en route, and arrived at Maysuyama on 25 October to disembark passengers and cargo. She returned to the Philippines from Honshū the 29th, mooring at Manila on 6 November. The ship spent the next five months conveying troops and equipment between the various ports of the Philippines until she decommissioned in Subic Bay, Luzon, on 16 April 1946 and was turned over to the Army for operations in the Far East.

Korean War[edit]

LST-975 was still in service there when at 0400 on 25 June 1950 the North Korean People's Army struck south across the 38th Parallel. On 27 June President Harry S. Truman ordered American naval and air support of the Republic of Korea. That afternoon the Security Council called upon all members of the United Nations to assist in repelling the North Korean attack. With the need for shipping for an immediate large-scale lift of troops and supplies, LST-975 was assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) on 1 July, to be manned by a Japanese civilian crew. On 28 August she recommissioned at Yokosuka, Japan, with Lieutenant Arnold W. Harer in command. After training out of Kobe, Japan, LST-975 joined the Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet, and arrived off Inchon, Korea, on 15 September for supply duty through the landings on 15 to 17 September, and into the middle of October. That first day she was repeatedly harassed by sniper fire as she beached on "Red Beach;" a mortar shell wounded one man. While she unloaded during the next few days, marine casualties were brought on board for care by Surgical Team 3. Completing unloading by the 17th, she spent the next month on ship-to-shore supply operations.

On 15 October the tank landing ship departed Inchon for Wonsan, arriving the 25th, five days after the original landings. The difficulties of land transportation on the peninsula repeatedly emphasized the key importance of seaborne supply. LST-975 '​s supply runs lasted into the middle of 1951. She departed Yokosuka, Japan, on 1 May for the west coast, arriving San Diego the 26th, and operated along the California coast for the next eight months before returning to the Far East. LST-975 arrived off Yokosuka on 11 March 1952. She again supported the deterrent efforts of the United Nations Forces in Korea from 4 April during protracted armistice negotiations until departing on 20 October for the west coast.

LST-975 received six battle stars for Korean War service.

Inter-war[edit]

On 19 June 1953, LST-975 sailed via Seattle and Point Barrow to resupply Distant Early Warning Line (DEWS) radar stations along the Arctic Circle. On 25 August she departed Seward, Alaska, to resume operations out of San Diego until 19 October when she got underway for another cruise to the Far East. Following arrival at Yokosuka on 13 November, the tank landing ship spent nearly five months in amphibious warfare training. From 23 to 26 March 1954, she participated in a simulated assault landing on Iwo Jima - nearly a decade after the World War II operation on 19 February 1945. Returning to the west coast, the LST arrived San Diego on 20 May for two years of coastal duty. Renamed USS Marion County (LST-975) on 1 July 1955, she departed San Diego on 9 January 1956 for training exercises off Hawaii and the Philippines.

After a stay in the Long Beach, California area from 14 April to 5 May, Marion County sailed for Portland, Oregon, arriving on 9 May. The next day she decommissioned and was turned over to MSTS. The ship operated in the Pacific until 26 September 1957 when she entered the MSTS "ready reserve" fleet at Suisun Bay, California. Marion County remained there until 21 October 1960 when she was returned to the Navy account to be placed in temporary custody of the Maritime Commission.

Vietnam War[edit]

On 12 April 1962 Marion County was transferred under the Military Assistance Program to the Republic of Vietnam. Struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 June 1963, she served South Vietnam as RVNS Cam Ranh (HQ-500). Following the Fall of Saigon on 29 April 1975, Cam Ranh escaped to the Philippines. Transferred to the Philippine Navy on 17 November 1975, the ship was renamed BRP Zamboanga Del Sur (LT-86), and is still active as part of the Philippine Navy as of 2013.

References[edit]