USS Neshoba (APA-216)

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Career
Name: USS Neshoba
Builder: Permanente Metals Corporation, Richmond, California
Launched: 7 October 1944
Commissioned: 16 November 1944
Decommissioned: 4 December 1946
Struck: 1 October 1958
Honors and
awards:
1 battle star (World War II)
Fate: Sold for scrapping, 5 March 1975
General characteristics
Class & type: Haskell-class attack transport
Displacement: 6,873 long tons (6,983 t)
Length: 455 ft (139 m)
Beam: 62 ft (19 m)
Draft: 24 ft (7.3 m)
Propulsion: Oil Fired Steam Turbine
1 Shaft
Speed: 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
26
Complement: 56 Officers, 480 Enlisted
Armament: • 1 × 5"/38 caliber guns
• 1 × quad 40 mm gun
• 4 × twin 40 mm guns
• 10 × single 20 mm guns

USS Neshoba (APA 216) was a Haskell-class attack transport in the United States Navy. She was named for Neshoba County, Mississippi.

One of the 130 ships of her class, the Neshoba was built by the Permanente Metals Corporation of Richmond, California, and launched on 7 October 1944. She was commissioned as a ship of the United States Navy on 16 November 1944 being sponsored by Mrs. Wendall E. Adams of Berkeley, California, and placed in command of Commander Martin J. Drury, USN. The conversion to an attack transport was made at Hunter's Point Ship Yard in San Francisco. The conversion consisted of installing Navy radio and radar equipment, armament, adding Welin davits for landing craft, and loading the landing craft themselves.

Service history[edit]

1944–1945[edit]

At the conclusion of this conversion, the Neshoba took her shakedown cruise, a coastal run from San Francisco to San Diego. During this cruise she attained her top speed of 19 knots. At San Diego, she was committed to Amphibious Training at which time the new boat crews got a feel of their craft. She acted as flagship for Transport Squadron Thirteen whose commanding officer at that time was Commodore John G. Moyer, USN. The training was supposed to last a period of two weeks, but sudden changes in the Pacific Fleet organization made the Neshoba's entrance on the scene of action imperative and the training was cut short. She proceeded to San Pedro, California, where final repairs and checkups were performed.

Ten days were allotted for this work, then she loaded with a cargo of food at San Francisco and received her first set of combat sailing orders – telling her merely to "Proceed Pearl Harbor". Upon arriving at Pearl Harbor, the cargo was dispatched and its place was taken by a "human cargo" of hundreds of Seabees. The Neshoba was instructed to sail for the Philippine Islands, stopping off at Eniwetok, Ulithi, and Palau on the way. After twenty days at sea, the Neshoba arrived in Leyte Gulf on 20 February 1945. The Seabees were taken off and brought into Samar Island. While at Leyte Gulf, the Neshoba was designated as the flagship of Commander Transport Division Forty Two, Captain Edwin T. Short, USN. Preparations were underway at this time for the eventual invasion and occupation of Okinawa Shima in the Ryukyu Islands.

Combined with Transport Divisions Forty and Forty-one, they made up Transport Squadron Fourteen commanded by Commodore Richardson, USN. It was decided to hold extensive maneuvers in Leyte Gulf for the ships and troops scheduled to take part in the forthcoming operation. Transport Squadron Fourteen was to carry troops and equipment of the 96th Infantry Division to the assault, so these troops were made subject to the maneuvers in Leyte Gulf. Maneuvers were to last for six days, during which time, two "dry runs" were made on the island of Leyte. Everything worked out as planned, and the high command set the date for the invasion of Okinawa on 1 April, Philippine time. Transport Squadrons Thirteen and Fourteen got underway from Leyte Gulf on 27 March 1945 for the four-day trip north to Okinawa.

Boats from the Neshoba were assigned to take in the first six waves of assault troops. Since the landings were virtually unopposed, no casualties were inflicted on the crew, and upon completion of the unloading phase, many transports were ordered by Admiral Turner to return to Pearl Harbor. Captain Short, aboard the Neshoba, was named Officer in Tactical Command {OTC) of fifteen ships in convoy, which left Okinawa on 5 April and proceeded to Pearl, via Guam. At Guam she was loaded with ninety Japanese prisoners of war and sailed from Guam with her convoy on 10 April bound for Pearl. Captain Short was relieved as CTD 42 by Captain Andrew R. Mack, USN. He continued as OTC for the remainder of the trip.

The convoy arrived on time at Pearl Harbor on 22 April and many of the ships received sailing orders for the United States. The Neshoba was not among the lucky ones. Instead, she was ordered by AdComPhibspac to take part in training maneuvers at Maui. OTC for the training schedule was ComTransRon 19. It was during these practice runs that the Neshoba achieved the remarkable record of lowering all her boats into the water in the record time of nine minutes. Upon conclusion of these maneuvers, she proceeded back to Pearl Harbor where her new orders read, "REPORT SAN FRANCISCO FOR LOADING". She was on her way early the next day, and 24 May saw the Neshoba passing under the Golden Gate Bridge. Most of the crew took a few days' leave and when they returned, the Neshoba was ready to sail again. This time, it was Okinawa with a load of Naval Ship Repair Unit personnel. The first leg of the trip carried her all the way to Eniwetok Island non-stop. Due to unloading difficulties in Okinawa, ships were held at all ports in the Pacific to wait their turn to go there. The Neshoba was held for three weeks at Eniwetok.

On 9 July 1945 Neshoba sailed in convoy to Ulithi, then to Okinawa. This trip to Okinawa did not find the same peaceful conditions as prevailed on D-Day. Attacks by kamikazes of the Japanese air forces were in full swing at the time. During the ship's five-day stay there, she was under several air raids, which did not come near the berth, and all hands were relieved when her orders came to depart on 29 July. Once again, it was convoy duty for the Neshoba, but one of a very different nature. She was not in a convoy of ships of her type, but was the mother ship to upwards of seventy craft, ranging in size from LST's down to fleet ocean tugs. Captain Mack was in command of this convoy as it set out for Saipan. During the trip, a small, but very annoying typhoon was encountered, but all ships and craft weathered the storm and sailed into Saipan harbor on 6 August.

Army and Navy dischargees were taken aboard as passengers, and on 8 August 1945, the Neshoba was told to take to the Pacific. The original orders read to proceed at top speed to San Francisco, but through some change of administrative orders, the Neshoba was told to change course and head for Pearl Harbor. This order was carried out, but not for long, because further orders were soon forthcoming with instructions to bypass San Francisco and report to the Thirteenth Naval District, Seattle, Washington. The arrival at Seattle was heralded by a shore-based ovation. Following the debarkation of the passengers, the ship was brought over to the Bremerton Navy Yard for repairs. The yard workers concentrated mostly on the boilers, which were in serious need of attention. Temporary repairs took one week after which the headquarters detachment of the 97th Infantry Division was embarked at Pier Forty-two.

The commanding general aboard was Brigadier General Partridge. The Neshoba once again put out to sea with original orders to carry her passengers to Leyte Island in the Philippines. A stop at Pearl Harbor was ordered and the Neshoba made her reappearance there on 17 September 1945. Since there were only seven hundred army passengers on board, the Navy found it very convenient to embark an additional seven hundred men – sailors, marines, and Seabees – who were bound for Guam. The ship left Pearl Harbor on 20 September, a three-day stopover was made at Guam to disembark the new passengers, and the ship received her orders to continue with the 97th Infantry on to Yokohama, Japan.

Following her arrival, the troops were disembarked and the Neshoba lay at dock, her holds and compartments empty, waiting to receive more passengers. It was during the brief stay in Yokohama that the Neshoba was assigned to Task Group 16.12, popularly known in the Navy as "The Magic Carpet". Commanded by Rear Admiral Kendall, USN, in Pearl Harbor, the "Magic Carpet" fleet had the specific duty of moving eligible dischargees from overseas to the United States.

The remaining units of the 43rd Infantry Division were embarked at Pier Four in Yokohama for return to San Francisco over the shortest possible route. The Captain and the Commodore jointly agreed on taking the Great Northern Route, which is about 4,700 miles, so it cuts off about 2,000 miles from the southern route.

Upon arriving in San Francisco and debarking troops, the Neshoba headed for Mare Island Navy Yard for minor repairs.

Captain Drury and Lieut. Comdr. Davis were relieved of duty by Captain E. J. Sweeney, USNR, and Lt. D. M. Newbern as the executive officer, later promoted to lieutenant commander. The Neshoba at this time was in drydock, its first time, and only five short days were taken in the repairs, before she once more had to be readied for a non-stop voyage to Guam. On this trip the crew expected to celebrate the first birthday of the ship, but it so happened that they crossed the International Date Line, thereby "gaining" a day and skipping 15 November, the ship's "birthday", so the anniversary was celebrated on the 16th. The ship arrived at Guam the 23rd, where she was loaded with Marines to carry to China. With the escort of the Haverfield (DE-393) to clear mines in the Yellow Sea, the crew experienced cold weather for the first time and for most of the trip. On 30 November the hook dropped in the Yellow Sea about 20 miles from the coast and liberty was granted for all hands in Tientsin. After a short stay in China the orders read once more for statewide and on 5 December the ship departed for San Diego, California.

1946[edit]

Christmas and New Year's were spent tied up at the Destroyer Base in San Diego, awaiting more orders and passengers. They both came, and the ship headed for Guam on 11 January and arrived on the 26th, debarking troops. After a very short stay in Guam, orders arrived for a return to San Francisco. There it was learned that the Neshoba would be put out of active service on 13 March. With a new paint job, sealing of guns, compartments and everything ready for the storeroom, the Neshoba, commonly known as the "Mighty N", left Mare Island for Stockton, California. She was to be a "mother ship" for five other ships tied together.

References[edit]

Based on an article by Charles W. Smallwood SK3/C and Clifford Mackin RM2/C

Adapted from: The History of the U.S.S. Neshoba. Cover: U.S.S. Neshoba. Anon. San Angelo, Tex.: Newsfoto Publishing Co., [1946]. Permission to use article and other material from the Cruise Book granted by Steve Lanning of Taylor Publishing which absorbed Newsfoto Co.

External links[edit]