USS Monticello (LSD-35)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS Monticello.
USS Monticello (LSD-35) at Sydney in 1971
USS Monticello (LSD-35) at Sydney, in 1971
Name: USS Monticello
Namesake: Monticello
Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi
Laid down: 6 June 1955
Launched: 10 August 1956
Commissioned: 29 March 1957
Decommissioned: 1 October 1985
Struck: 24 February 1992
Fate: Sunk as a target, RIMPAC 2010
General characteristics
Class and type: Thomaston-class dock landing ship
Displacement: 8,899 long tons (9,042 t) light
11,525 long tons (11,710 t) full load
Length: 510 ft (160 m)
Beam: 84 ft (26 m)
Draft: 19 ft (5.8 m)
Propulsion: 2 × steam turbines, 2 shafts, 23,000 shp (17 MW)
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph)
Boats and landing
craft carried:
21 × LCM-6 landing craft in well deck
Troops: 300
Complement: 304
Armament: • 4 × twin 3"/50 caliber guns
• 6 × twin 20 mm AA guns
Aircraft carried: Up to 8 helicopters
Aviation facilities: Helicopter landing area

USS Monticello (LSD-35) was a Thomaston-class dock landing ship, the third ship of the United States Navy to be named for Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Virginia.

Monticello was laid down on 6 June 1955 by Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp., Pascagoula, Mississippi; launched on 10 August 1956; sponsored by Mrs. Harry R. Sheppard, wife of Congressman Harry R. Sheppard of California; and commissioned on 29 March 1957, Capt. James T. Hodgson, Jr., in command.

Service history[edit]

After outfitting and trials off the East Coast, Monticello arrived at her home port, NS San Diego, on 27 May 1957 to join Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet, and immediately began shakedown training. She continued to operate off the Pacific coast, joining in major amphibious training operations which took her to Eniwetok in 1958 and Hawaii and Alaska in 1959, serving usually as primary control ship. Such operations, involving ships of all types along with underwater demolition teams and Marines, keep the fleet at top readiness for any challenge of diplomatic crisis or war itself.

On 14 November 1960, Monticello sailed for a seven-month deployment with the 7th Fleet in the western Pacific. She was combat-loaded with part of a Marine reinforced battalion landing team, and was alerted four times during the Laos crisis, steaming with Paul Revere (APA-248) and four escorting destroyers in the South China Sea and the Gulf of Siam. Returning to San Diego in July, Monticello joined in a joint Army-Navy-Air Force amphibious exercise at San Juan Island, Washington, in September, then returned to fleet training operations from her home port.

Monticello sailed on 18 February 1962 in JTF 8 for nuclear weapons tests at Christmas Island, first carrying cargo between Christmas Island and San Diego, and then acting as command ship during tests of antisubmarine weapons. In June, she sailed again to Christmas Island to aid in closing down the test operation, and continued to a second 7th Fleet tour of duty highlighted by a large amphibious exercise at Okinawa. She returned to San Diego and a program of training with Camp Pendleton marines, necessary overhaul, and refresher training early in December.

She again joined the 7th Fleet's Amphibious Ready Group from January to October 1964, taking part in SEATO as well as U.S. exercises.

After operating on the Atlantic coast through much of 1965, Monticello headed back to the western Pacific in August. Early in 1966, she steamed to South Vietnam for "Operation Double Eagle" the longest and largest amphibious operation of the Vietnam War up to that time. It enabled Allied forces to engage Viet Cong near Thac Tru and secure a beachhead in a key area. At the operation's conclusion, on 26 February, she headed for Subic Bay en route home via Hong Kong, Yokosuka, and Pearl Harbor.

Monticello off Korea in 1982.

After overhaul at San Pedro and training along the Pacific coast, Monticello got underway from San Diego on 13 January 1967, heading for the Far East. Much action awaited her in Vietnam. She served as primary command ship for "Operation Beacon Hill I" at Quang Tri from 20 March to 2 April and "Beacon Star" there from 22 April to 12 May. She joined in "Bell" in the latter half of May, in "Beacon Torch" and "Bear Chain" in July, and in August participated in "Kangaroo Kick", an amphibious feint off Huế, and "Belt Drive", again at Quang Tri. Relieved at Da Nang in September. Monticello returned to San Diego on 13 October. After an overhaul that lasted until early 1968, Monticello conducted refresher training and local operations out of San Diego. In November of that year, she once again deployed to Vietnam where she remained into 1969.

Monticello as a target ship during RIMPAC 2010.

Monticello was decommissioned on 1 October 1985 and transferred to the US Maritime Administration on 2 August 1991. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 24 February 1992 and she was sold on 29 September 1995 to Pegasus Inc for scrapping. She was repossessed by the Navy on 1 July 1997 after the failure of Pegasus to dismantle the ship and was re-transferred to the United States Maritime Administration and docked in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay, Benicia, California. Ex-Monticello was environmentally cleaned to be used for target practice by Marad Contract #N00140-03C-A002 from 9 March through 27 April 2006 and then the vessel was returned to the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet.[1]

Ex-Monticello was withdrawn from the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay, Benicia, California on 27 June 2010, to be towed to Hawaii for sinking, in July 2010, as part of the RIMPAC 2010 exercise.[2]

Awards, Citations & Campaign Ribbons[edit]

Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Combat Action Ribbon w/ 2 award stars Navy Unit Commendation w/ 1 service star Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
National Defense Service Medal Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal w/ 4 service stars Vietnam Service Medal w/ 12 service stars
Humanitarian Service Medal Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation (12) Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal