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USS Meeker County (LST-980)
LST-980-unloads-an-LVT
Career Flag of the United States.svg
Name: USS LST-980
Builder: Boston Navy Yard, Massachusetts
Laid down: 22 December 1943
Launched: 10 February 1944
Commissioned: 19 March 1944
Decommissioned: 16 December 1955
Renamed: USS Meeker County (LST-980), 1 July 1955
Recommissioned: 23 September 1966
Decommissioned: December 1970
Struck: 1 April 1975
Honors and
awards:
1 battle stars (World War II)
10 campaign stars (Vietnam)
Fate: Scrapped
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 Meeker County (LST-980) was an LST-542-class tank landing ship built for the United States Navy during World War II. Named after Meeker County, Minnesota, she was the only U.S. Naval vessel to bear the name.

Originally laid down as LST-980 on 22 December 1943 at the Boston Navy Yard; the ship was launched on 10 February 1944, sponsored by Mrs. Orrion R. Hewitt; and commissioned on 19 March 1944 with Lieutenant W. F. Westfall in command.

Service historyEdit

World War II, 1944–1945Edit

In April 1944, after completing shakedown exercises in Chesapeake Bay, LST-980 loaded equipment and got underway for England, where plans for the invasion of France had been stalled in debate over the need for shipping, a need and resultant disagreement so acute that Prime Minister Winston Churchill had quipped, "The destinies of two great empires...seem to be tied up in some God-damned things called LSTs."[1]

Upon arriving in England, LST-980 underwent further amphibious training and by early June stood ready for "D-Day." On 5 June the ships of "Operation Overlord" sortied from the English coast and on 6 June the Allies landed on the Normandy beaches. Participating in the invasion, LST-980 was bracketed by bombs, one of which, a 125 pound dud, penetrated the hull and two bulkheads, killing one man and causing minor damage. After the establishment of the beachhead, the landing ship remained in the area providing shuttle service between the United Kingdom and France. Carrying men and equipment to France, she returned to England with prisoners of war, transporting upwards of 900 at one time.

LST-980 returned to the United States in February 1945 and was assigned to training activities along the east coast for the remainder of the war.

Post-war activities, 1945–1955Edit

Following the war she remained at Little Creek, Virginia and continued her training operations, extending them to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Those included participation in CAMID I, II, and III, joint Army-Navy operations to acquaint U.S. Naval Academy cadets and midshipmen with amphibious warfare. On 30 April 1949 LST-980 departed Little Creek for the Mediterranean and five months' duty with the 6th Fleet. Returning to her base on 4 October, she resumed east coast operations. With only three interruptions, two resupply missions to the Baffin Bay area in the summers of 1951 and 1952, and a two-month tour as support LST for marines on Vieques Island in 1954, she continued to provide amphibious training to Naval and Marine Corps personnel until July 1955. Renamed USS Meeker County (LST-980) on 1 July 1955, she steamed to New York in mid-July to begin inactivation. On 23 September she arrived at Green Cove Springs to complete the process. Decommissioning on 16 December 1955 she remained in the Florida Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet, until transferred to Philadelphia in October 1961.

Vietnam War, 1966–1970Edit

In 1965, an urgent need for amphibious types caused Meeker County to be reactivated. Modernized at Baltimore, she recommissioned on 23 September 1966, underwent intensive training at Little Creek, and on 20 January 1967 departed for her new home port, Guam. She arrived at Apra Harbor, Guam, on 7 April and then sailed for Vietnam for a tour of duty as a unit of Landing Ship Squadron 3. Operating from Da Nang, she provided almost continuous support to combat operations in Vietnam into 1969.

Decommissioning and saleEdit

Decommissioned in December 1970 at Bremerton, Washington, Meeker County was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 April 1975. Sold for scrapping by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS), on 1 December 1975, she was in turn sold to Max Rouse & Sons of Beverly Hills, California and taken in hand by Marine Industries of Tacoma, Washington for conversion to commercial use. Sold in 1976 to Landing System Technology Pte. Ltd. of Singapore (Lauritz Kloster, Norway) and renamed LST-3, the ship arrived at Piraeus, Greece having been acquired by Maritime & Commercial Co. Argonaftis S.A. of Panama (Greek flag) on 30 June 1978 and renamed Petrola 143. After nearly two decades she arrived in tow at Aliağa, Turkey for demolition by Seltas A.S. on 7 August 1996.

AwardsEdit

LST-980 received one battle star for World War II service, as Meeker County ten campaign stars for service during the Vietnam War.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Morison, Samuel Eliot (1957). History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Vol. 11: The Invasion of France and Germany 1944-1945. Little, Brown & Co.. p. 28. 

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.


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