USS Okaloosa (APA-219)

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Okaloosa (APA-219).jpg
USS Okaloosa (APA-219), underway, c. 1946.
History
United States
Name: Okaloosa
Namesake: Okaloosa County, Florida
Ordered: as a Type VC2-S-AP5 hull, MCE hull 567[1]
Builder: Permanente Metals Corporation, Richmond, California
Yard number: 567[1]
Laid down: 8 August 1944
Launched: 22 October 1944
Commissioned: 28 November 1944
Decommissioned: 21 July 1949
Struck: 1 October 1958
Identification:
Honors and
awards:
1 × battle star for World War II service
Fate:
Status: sold for scrapping, 28 October 1971, delivered, 30 May 1972
General characteristics [2]
Class and type: Haskell-class attack transport
Type: Type VC2-S-AP5
Displacement:
  • 6,873 long tons (6,983 t) (light load)
  • 14,837 long tons (15,075 t) (full load)
Length: 455 ft (139 m)
Beam: 62 ft (19 m)
Draft: 24 ft (7.3 m)
Installed power:
Propulsion:
Speed: 17.7 kn (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
Capacity:
  • 2,900 long tons (2,900 t) DWT
  • 150,000 cu ft (4,200 m3) (non-refrigerated)
Troops: 87 officers, 1,475 enlisted
Complement: 56 officers, 480 enlisted
Armament:
Service record
Part of: TransRon 19
Operations: Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto (26–30 April 1945)
Awards:

USS Okaloosa (APA-219) was a Haskell-class attack transport that saw service with the US Navy in World War II. She was of the VC2-S-AP5 Victory ship design type. Okaloosa was named after Okaloosa County, Florida.

Construction[edit]

She was laid down 8 August 1944, under a Maritime Commission (MARCOM) contract, MCV Hull 567, by Permanente Metals Corporation, Yard No. 2, Richmond, California; launched 22 October 1944; acquired by the Navy on a loan charter basis 28 November 1944; and commissioned the same day, Captain Robert E. Jasperson in command.[3]

Service history[edit]

World War II[edit]

Following commissioning and fitting out, Okaloosa departed Seattle with troops 26 January 1945, for Honolulu, then operated out of Pearl Harbor until sailing 29 March, with US Army units for Eniwetok, Ulithi, and Okinawa.[3]

Invasion of Okinawa[edit]

She arrived off Okinawa 26 April, and offloaded troops without incident during the next four days, despite frequent enemy air attacks.[3]

Transport duties[edit]

The transport then returned to the West Coast, arriving San Francisco 22 May, her stay was short, however, and she embarked troops and cargo immediately, leaving 30 May, for Manila and Leyte, Philippines.[3]

Except for a brief voyage to New Guinea in early July, Okaloosa shuttled troops and cargo among the Philippine Islands until departing Manila Bay 7 September, for Tokyo Bay with occupation units.[3]

Post-war service[edit]

From Tokyo Bay, Okaloosa sailed, in turn, to Guam; Tsingtao, China; Manila; and Haiphong, French Indo-China; where she loaded elements of the Chinese 52nd Army bound for the Gulf of Pohai, China.[3]

Operation Magic Carpet[edit]

Assigned to Operation Magic Carpet on 16 November, Okaloosa sailed to Jinsen, Korea, took on her full capacity of returning troops, and sailed 30 November, for Tacoma, Washington, arriving 17 December. Four days later, she entered Puget Sound Navy Yard for overhaul, she sailed 11 January 1946, via the Panama Canal for Norfolk, Virginia, arriving on the last day of the month. Also, on 14 January, she came under full ownership of the Navy.[3]

Peacetime cruises[edit]

For the next few years, Okaloosa operated out of Norfolk, many times with Marines from nearby bases. Three times, in June and July 1947, and June 1948, she conducted cruises for large numbers of east coast reservists, sailing to Bermuda on the last two. In addition, amphibious exercises took her to Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands on a number of month-long cruises and several shorter ones.[3]

Decommission[edit]

On 15 April 1949, Okaloosa sailed from Norfolk for Orange, Texas, and deactivation, after overhaul, she decommissioned on 21 July, and entered the Texas Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She was returned to the Maritime Administration (MARAD) 23 September 1955, with permanent custody transferred 26 September 1958, she was struck from the Navy Register 1 October 1958.[3]

Fate[edit]

On 28 October 1971, Okaloosa was sold to Union Minerals & Alloys Corporation, along with eight other ships, for $467,100, with the condition that they would be scrapped. At the time she was part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Mobile, Alabama, Group, on 30 May 1972, she was officially withdrawn from the Reserve Fleet.[4]

Ship's bell[edit]

When the vessel was dismantled, its relics were salvaged and Baldwin County, Alabama requested the ship's bell for a war memorial at its satellite courthouse in Foley. Okaloosa County Judge T. Patterson Maney, a retired US Army brigadier general, discovered the bell during a visit to Foley and worked to bring it back to its namesake county, on 4 January 2012, county officials of Okaloosa County, Florida, retrieved the bell from Foley for display in front of the Northwest Florida Regional Airport terminal. In exchange, the US Navy will presented Baldwin County with the bell from Peterson for its memorial. Okaloosa County held a dedication on 26 April 2012.[5]

"The Baldwin County Commission has been extremely gracious," said Tracy Stage, projects manager for the airport, of the transfer of the bell. "We're bringing it back to Okaloosa County where it belongs. I can't think of a better way to recognize the Navy, the Marine Corps and all the veterans."[6]

Decorations[edit]

Okaloosa received one battle star for World War II service.[3]

Notes[edit]

Citations

Bibliography[edit]

Online resources

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Photo gallery of USS Okaloosa (APA-219) at NavSource Naval History