USS Sphinx (ARL-24)

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USS Sphinx
Sphinx underway in Puget Sound prior to recommissioning in 1985 at Bremerton Naval Shipyard
History
Name: USS Sphinx
Builder: Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation
Laid down: 20 October 1944
Launched: 7 March 1945
Commissioned: 10 May 1945
Decommissioned: 26 May 1947
Recommissioned: 3 November 1950
Decommissioned: 31 January 1956
Recommissioned: 16 December 1967
Decommissioned: 30 September 1971
Struck: 16 April 1977
Recommissioned: July 1985
Decommissioned: 16 June 1989
Struck: 2 December 2002
Fate: Being stripped of parts, scheduled for scrapping 2007
General characteristics
Class and type: Achelous class repair ship
Displacement:
  • 1,781 long tons (1,810 t) light
  • 3,960 long tons (4,024 t) full
Length: 328 ft (100 m)
Beam: 50 ft (15 m)
Draft: 11 ft 2 in (3.40 m)
Propulsion: 2 × General Motors 12-567 diesel engines, two shafts, twin rudders
Speed: 12 knots (14 mph; 22 km/h)
Complement: 253 officers and enlisted men
Armament:
  • 2 × 40 mm guns
  • 8 × 20 mm guns
Service record
Operations:
Awards:

USS Sphinx (ARL-24) was one of 39 Achelous-class landing craft repair ships built for the United States Navy during World War II. Named for the Sphinx (a mythical monster formed by joining the body of a lion and the head of a human), she was the only U.S. Naval vessel to bear the name.

Originally authorized as LST-963, the ship was redesignated as a landing craft repair ship (ARL) on 11 September 1944; laid down 20 October 1944 by the Bethlehem Steel Company of Hingham, Massachusetts; named Sphinx and redesignated ARL-24 on 11 September 1944; launched on 18 November 1944; converted into a landing craft repair ship at the Merrill Stevens Drydock, Jacksonville, Florida; and commissioned on 10 May 1945. Sphinx completed fitting out and proceeded to Norfolk, Virginia for sea trials and shakedown in Chesapeake Bay.

Service history[edit]

World War II[edit]

On 12 June 1945 Sphinx sailed for the west coast; transited the Panama Canal on 23 June; and proceeded via San Diego to San Francisco. She was assigned to the Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet, and ordered to Hawaii. Sphinx arrived in Pearl Harbor on 31 July and repaired craft there until 27 August when she sailed for Adak, Alaska.

Before she reached Adak, her sailing orders were modified, routing her to Japan. She arrived at Mutsu Bay, Honshū on 14 September and began repairing and refitting minesweepers. Sphinx moved to Yokosuka on 20 November and sailed for Saipan on 3 December 1945. She operated in the central Pacific islands until entering Pearl Harbor on 9 January 1947 en route to the west coast for decontamination. The ship had participated in "Operation Crossroads," the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands from early April to 29 August 1946. Sphinx arrived at San Pedro, California on 22 January where she was decontaminated and prepared for inactivation. She was placed out of commission, in reserve, on 26 May 1947.

Korean War[edit]

The outbreak of hostilities in Korea created a need for Sphinx's repair facilities in the Far East. She was recommissioned on 3 November 1950. After outfitting and holding shakedown training, she stood out of San Diego on 17 August 1951 and proceeded via Pearl Harbor to Japan. Sphinx arrived at Yokosuka on 29 September and operated from Japanese ports until 7 May 1952. During this time, she repaired and serviced fleet units that were being used in Korea. The ship returned to San Diego on 4 June 1952 and operated along the California coast until redeployed to the Far East from 3 March to 9 December 1954. Sphinx operated along the west coast during 1955 and, on 31 January 1956, was again placed out of commission, in reserve, and berthed at San Diego.

Vietnam War[edit]

In January 1967 orders were issued to reactivate Sphinx for use in Vietnam. She was towed to New Orleans, Louisiana in February and, on 16 December 1967, placed in commission. The ship sailed for the west coast on 8 January 1968 and arrived at San Diego on 23 February. On 22 April Sphinx and USS Cohoes (AN-78) sailed for the western Pacific. The ships made port calls at Pearl Harbor, Kusaie, Guam, and Subic Bay. Sphinx sailed independently from there on 6 June and, four days later, arrived at Vung Tau, South Vietnam. Sphinx moved to Dong Tarn on 11 June and was assigned to the Mobile Riverine Force in the Mekong Delta. Her unit was Task Force (TF) 117 composed of 11 shallow-draft ships and over 150 river assault boats. The repair ship was on a non-rotating basis and, during 1969, had very little time underway. She operated in the Tien Giang and Ham Luong rivers, providing service and support for the river boats as they engaged in operations against the Viet Cong. The ship sailed from Vietnam on 21 June for a yard period at Sasebo and returned on 25 August.

Upon her return to Vietnam, Sphinx operated along the Vam Co River. In addition to her regular duties, the ship served as the tactical operations center of the Can Giouc Interdiction Unit and also developed helicopter capabilities, handling 50 landings before 31 December 1969. She remained in Vietnam until 14 December 1970 when she weighed anchor for a yard period at Yokosuka. On the last day of the year, the ship lost power in both main engines and was adrift 340 miles from Sasebo. On 2 January 1971 the USS Chipola (AO-63) took her under tow for Sasebo where she was repaired.

Sphinx was back off Vietnam on 11 March and remained there until sailing for the west coast several months later. She arrived at Bremerton, Washington on 2 July and prepared to rejoin the reserve fleet. On 30 September 1971 Sphinx was placed in reserve, out of commission, and remained berthed at Bremerton into December 1974. Sphinx was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 16 April 1977.

Intelligence-gatherer[edit]

Sphinx was reacquired by the Navy in 1985 and commissioned in July 1985 at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton. In 1985, the ship went through a $25 million overhaul to become an intelligence-collection platform. It conducted patrols off the Pacific coast of El Salvador monitoring the actions of the communist guerrilla forces. The ship was decommissioned for the last time on 16 June 1989 at Norfolk and laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.

Museum ship[edit]

Custody of Sphinx was transferred on 2 December 2002 to the Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse and Veterans Park Museum in Dunkirk, New York for preservation, where she was regarded as the "Sole Survivor of All LST's in The U.S. Mothball Fleet Today."

Sphinx at Bay Bridge awaiting scrapping

It was reported in May 2007, that the Sphinx was being stripped of parts by groups from other historical ships, as the Dunkirk Historical group was unsuccessful in raising adequate funds to move her to their location. Later that year, Sphinx was sold for scrapping to North American Recycling, Inc. The ship was moved to Baltimore, but the scrapper went out of business and Sphinx was abandoned along with another Atlantic Reserve Fleet ship, the former USS Hoist (ARS-40). In November 2007, Sphinx was acquired by Bay Bridge Enterprises, who moved her to their facility in Chesapeake, Virginia for disposal. The vessel arrived at their facility on 1 December 2007.[1]

Sphinx received one battle star for Korean service and eight for service in Vietnam.

References[edit]

External links[edit]