TIME LINE 1944 to 1969
USS SKAGIT AKA / LKA 105
The USS Skagit (AKA-105) was laid down as MC hull #1696 on 21 September 1944 by North Carolina Shipbuilding Co., Wilmington, N.C.; launched on 18 November 1944; sponsored by Miss Heloise Pike, acquired by the Navy on 28 November 1944, converted by the Bethlehem Steel Co., Brooklyn, N.Y., into an attack cargo ship.
The ships crew was assembled in Newport, RI, trained together, and then went to Brooklyn as a group to join the ship where they continued training.
The Skagit was commissioned at 1105 on 2 May 1945, Commander Harold R. Parker, USN in command.
For 3 days war cargo for Manila was loaded aboard, but a sudden change of orders had the Manila cargo off loaded, and new cargo for France loaded aboard.
Skagit completed preparations for sea and sailed for Norfolk on 13 May.
At Norfolk Skagit picked up her Boat Crew, and more cargo.
USS Skagit and World War II
The ship stood out of port on 3 June en route to Marseille, France. During transit the ship conducted live fire gunnery exercises, and a BUSHIPS experiment on a new style Fender. A simulated cargo transfer along side with a LSM was unsuccessful as the ocean proved itself dominant once again and the Fenders were reduced to splinters and the ship was left with some pretty deep dents along the starboard side forward.
Skagit arrived in Marseille, France on 16 June, loaded a cargo of completely rebuilt vehicles, Army Troops, and elements of the 106th & 118th Station Hospitals bound for Manila, P.I., and sailed again on the 29th.
In the Caribbean Sea the Captain ordered anti-submarine zig zag maneuvers for about 8 hours.
Skagit sailed from Panama and had a one day reversal of course to pick up a wounded Gunners Mate who was a passenger on the Merchant Ship Andrew Jackson that had been accidently shot. At Entiwietok the wounded man was transferred back to his ship.
Skagit arrived at Manila on 15 August, discharged her cargo there and reloaded with supplies for Tokyo.
Skagit was one of the allied ships present in Tokyo Bay during the surrender ceremony on 2 September 1945
For the remainder of the year, the ship shuttled supplies and troops between American bases in the Far East, calling at Okinawa, Guam, Tientsin, Tsingtao and Shanghai. She returned to the west coast on 16 December 1945 and operated out of San Diego with Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet until 22 June 1946 when she was deployed to Pearl Harbor for three months.
In early February 1947 received orders to proceed to Oakland, CA and then to Stockton, CA to load food supplies for the Okinawians. Mission to the Orient was to evacuate the Marines from the Tientsin Area of China.
22 February 1947 Set sail from Stockton, CA with dependent wives and children of service personnel aboard for Buckner Bay, Okinawa.
Skagit operated between Okinawa, Guam, and China until the following November, broken only by a 19-day cruise back to the west coast in July.
03 July 1947 Returned to San Diego, CA - Mission completed.
In early 1948, the cargo ship was fitted out to make a polar expedition. On 26 July, Skagit departed the United States with the Point Barrow, Alaska, Expedition (BAREX 48)and remained there until 23 August.
She was back in Alaskan waters
from 19 January to 3 March 1949, the ship participated in Operation MICOWEX 49A. The Skagit returned to San Diego in late March.
The cargo ship returned to San Francisco on 25 February.
Skagit was next scheduled to go to Pearl Harbor for overhaul.
After a few days underway she received new orders - "Proceed to Mare Island Naval Ship Yard, for deactivation and decommissioning"
It took about 90 dirty and tiring days putting the Skagit in mothballs in the Reserve Fleet.
On 30 June 1949 decommissioning ceremonies were conducted, a CPO, who was a plank owner, received the ship's commissioning pennant.
USS Skagit and the Korean Conflict
The Forgotten War
On 25 June 1950, the North Korean People's Army invaded South Korea. This necessitated a fast increase in American surface shipping to meet the logistical demand placed upon it. Many ships of the "Moth Ball" fleet were reactivated, and on 26 August 1950, Skagit was placed in full commission. She moved to San Diego for shakedown training and then trained other crews until 26 March 1951.
On that date, the cargo ship sailed for Pusan, Korea with troops and combat supplies. After unloading, she proceeded to Yokosuka and conducted landing exercises for elements of the 40th Army Division. This training period was interrupted for a month in May when Skagit was ordered to sail to Inchon at flank speed to evacuate personnel and equipment if the situation there became more critical. However, Inchon was secured, and the ship resumed normal overseas operations until returning to San Diego on 15 October 1951.
Skagit was deployed to the Far East again from May to December 1952. The Army was setting up new prisoner of war camps at Yongcho Do and Pongnam Do as a result of the riots at Koje Do. Skagit transported construction material to the new sites from Pusan and then assisted in the transfer of the communist prisoners.
During her deployment in 1954, Skagit was ordered to Tounane, French Indochina, to participate in Operation "Passage to Freedom." The ship transported 4,089 refugees from Haiphong in the north to Saigon and Cape St. Jacques in the south. The refugees were fleeing from the communists then closing in on Hanoi and Haiphong.
Recollections of Rolland Turcotte, ET2
Nov. 5, 1953 to Aug. 1956
Reported aboard the USS Skagit AKA-105 on November 5, 1953 for duty. She's a AKA (Attack Cargo Ship) and looks like good duty, NAN-EASY-CHARLIE-KING (Radio Call Signal).
February 18, 1954. Tomorrow we set sail for 10 months of overseas duty. I was sea sick for the 21 days of this trip to Japan in a slow convoy of ships.
July 1954. Picked up more ribbons this trip, United Nations and Korean. Visited such places as Iwo Jima, Okinawa, in Japan (Yokosuka, Yokohama, Sasebo, Kobe, and Tokyo), Incho- Sacho Rey in Korea, Hong Kong, and Subic Bay in the Philippines. Had 3 operations so far; Iwo Jima, Korea, and Okinawa. Expect one more in Korea before we go stateside in October, 1954.
Took part in the Indo-China relief (Passage to Freedom) and evacuation from Hanoi and Haiphong. The Skagit spent almost one month in the immediate area.
Aug 29-Sept 25, 1954. Visited Saigon, Torraine, and other places in Indochina. The Skagit carried 4,027 passengers (refugees). An experience never to be forgotten by me was the mark it left.
We returned to Japan via Okinawa and Pusan, Korea with rice left over from the Indochina operation. Arrived in Yokosuka, Japan, Oct 7th or 8th, and commenced 21 days of yard overhaul.
Yard period stretched into a longer period of time. We stayed tied up in the shipyard till our departure for the states on the 7th of November, 1954.
Arrived in San Francisco the morning of 20th November, 1954 via Northern route (Aleutians Islands). Very cold and bad weather all the way.
Off loaded troops and transients in San Francisco for discharge. Left San Francisco the morning of November 21st. Arrived in San Diego the 23rd of November, 1954. Band met us at the dock. Left for Christmas leave on the 3rd of December, 1954.
Returned to the Skagit on 2nd of January, 1955. January and February 1955 were spent on Amphibious maneuvers off San Diego, California. Leave San Diego on the 22nd of March, 1955 for San Francisco to load up and then head overseas.
Arrived in Japan the middle of April, 1955. Missed the cherry blossoms in Tokyo. Our trip overseas was a pleasure trip this time, no sea sickness. Make goodwill trips to Toyama, Moji, and other ports of call. Lots of good liberty and pictures. Buy myself movie projector and camera on this trip. Got nice shots of Hong Kong, at sea in typhoon, and tours. Pulled into Hong Kong twice this year, June and August, 1955. Purchased a suit and sport jacket in Hong Kong.
In June 1955 while in the Philippines, I assumed charge of new division "L" as leading PO (in charge). "O" division (my previous division)
has been split into 4 separate groups: "C"."L", "I", and "Y"! We have four men in "L" division; Summers YNSN, (Yeoman Seaman), Peterson SN (Seaman), Purcell ET3 and myself. Mr. Sluis (Lieutenant) is in charge.
We expect to leave from the FAR EAST on the tenth of September 1955 for the States with a stop in Pearl Harbor for a few days on the way home. Arrived states on the 30th of September, 1955 and left on leave upon docking.
Returned on the 30th of October, 1955 from leave stateside. Operations started on the 7th of November, 1955. On this operation, we lost 17 men from ships in the operations, two destroyers damaged and one medium bomber lost. A lot of our trouble was due to in-experienced personnel and bad weather. Received a 3rd class ET Petty Officer from the Estes (USN ship) to help us out. His name is R.J. Witt and he reported aboard 3rd of January 1956. His home is Casper, Wyo. Set up instructions for future ET's to take care of electronics (on board), and all equipment was brought up to date on records and performance.
Jan 1956: Drills in Atomic warfare and amphibious invasion off San Diego. Spent the first part of February installing all boat radio's. February 13, 1956, we arrived in Hawaii for yard work at Pearl Harbor. We took families of the crew members on board for this trip, a first for the Navy aboard Naval Ships. This proved to be very hectic for us.
While in the yards, new equipment and men arrived aboard. Many beach parties and enjoyable trips to Honolulu ensured. Left for San Diego 23rd of April 1956.
First Class takes over the leading ET's job that I held. Now the long wait for my discharge.
Coming off sea maneuvers in August, I found myself transferred from the Skagit to the amphibious base in San Diego. Wait till the 12th of September to leave for the Receiving Station for discharge. On the 18th of September, 1956, I was released from service.
Recollections of: Clark Leonard, LT. USMC
Combat Cargo Officer 1958 - 1959
In July 1958 the Skagit loaded Marines at Okinawa and proceeded toward Lebanon to assist the Marines who had landed there and were short of troops. Another forgotten episode of the Marines landing in a foreign country, except one of my Basic School classmates was killed there. The ship proceeded south past Singapore but was recalled before reaching India.
A great Liberty was had by all in Singapore and then on to Okinawa to offload the Marines.
The 7th Fleet was patrolling the Formosa Straights in strength because the Chinese had threatened to invade Formosa. Everyone thought there was going to be another war!
In September 1958 we proceeded to Yokosuka, Japan where we loaded personnel of Marine Air Group 3 and filled the holds with steel matting for an airfield and with 5" shells for the Chinese Nationalists defending Quemoy and Matsu, two small islands off the Chinese mainland. We were not supposed to carry ammunition but Quemoy and Matsu were in desperate need and we had the duty. The men were very hesitant to load live shells and store them in the holds. We were really lucky we were not all killed, as we were not qualified to do it, but you do as you are told.
Departed Sept.14 and ran into Typhoon Helen, very rough seas, and giant waves. Arrived Kaoshung, Formosa on Sept,19 unloaded matting continuously for 48 hours. When I went to the new airfield they were laying matting down in a soggy rice paddy and F-9 Cougars were starting to arrive. Amazing! The ammunition was loaded directly onto LSTs and sent to Quemoy. At this time Formosa was a third world country. I hired local workers to help on the ship, three coolies for a day, for the price of one box of C rations (enough to serve one man for one day). Life was cheap!!!
On Sept. 24 the ship arrived at Hong Kong where we were station ship, ready to evacuate all American civilians in case of war or major emergency.
We had loaded the ship with extra toilet paper, baby food, kotex, etc. in anticipation of taking civilians aboard.
Great duty as the fleet was in the Formosa Straits and we were the only guest military ship! Wonderful!
I ran the shore patrol two days on and then a days liberty. I knew every bar in Wanchai, they fed the shore patrol for free!! On my free days I went on tours, seeing the mainland, Red China, across the fence, and the rest of the island of Hong Kong. Here I saw the poverty that is a part of the Orient as well as the refugees fleeing China. The city and hills were full of refugees living and working right on the street.
On Oct 5 we sailed for Subic Bay, Philippines where we loaded more ammo and all the LCMs and LCVPs we could fit on the ship, left ASAP for Tsoying Harbor, Formosa where we dropped off the boats on Oct 9 for their use in assisting at Quemoy and Matsu.
On Oct 13 we arrived back in Hong Kong to again act as Station Ship. More great shore time! We left Hong Kong on Oct 23 and arrived in Yokosuka on Oct 29 for repairs as we had all kinds of engine problems. More great liberty.
On Nov 23 we finally sailed for San Diego alone! The rest of PhibRon 5 (Amphibious Squadron 5) had sailed the day before but our engines had broken down again just outside the harbor!! After numerous engine repairs at sea we finally reached San Diego on 12/8/58. The ship would go out during the week and usually return for the weekend in port. It was pretty good duty
For the next few years, the cargo ship divided her time between the western Pacific and operations along the west coast, south to Acapulco, Mexico, and north to Alaska.
In August 1960 the ship made the annual re-supply run to the Pribilof Islands in the Bearing Sea. There were no piers on either St. Paul or St. George Islands that could handle a ship so Skagit's Mike Boats were used to haul the fuel, food, etc. to the beach and then returned with the seal products.
During the operation a crewman crushed his hand handling fuel drums and had to be flown to Kodiak by a Coast Guard Amphibious Plane for treatment.
Skagit returned to Seattle with a four million dollar cargo of seal skins.
In late 1960 the ship was again deployed to the far east and spent Christmas in Guam where it received minor repairs.
During this cruise Third Division received it's first Assault Boat Award.
In May 1961, Skagit participated in Operation PONY EXPRESS, a combined SEATO amphibious exercise on the northern shore of Borneo in which 5 of the 8 SEATO members participated.
In the Summer and Fall of 1963, Skagit went north from San Diego to Portland Oregon for repairs at Williamett Shipyard. After completion of the yard period she proceded further north to Naden Naval Base, Victoria B.C. Canada for a goodwill visit.
In August 1964 Skagit completed a 7 month tour in the Western Pacific in which she participated in several amphibious landing exercises. Among these were the Operation BACKPACK held in conjunction wih the Chinese Nationalists on the southern shores of Taiwan, Operation LIGTAS, a SEATO exercise held in the Philipines, and Operation OSDEX, an over-the-shore discharge of cargo held on the eastern shores of South Korea in conjuntion with the U.S. 8th Army and the Republic of Korea Army. Commander Seventh Fleet and Commander Amphibious Group One commended Skagit for outstanding performance during Operation OSDEX.
On 8 August 1964, the message the entire ship's company had been expecting arrived, Skagit was authorized to display from 14 August 1964 to 14 October 1965, the Crossed Anchors of the Amphibious Assult Award, the Red E of the Engineering Excellence Award, and the Green C of the Communications Excellence Award.
These awards are well deserved recognition for outstanding performance and untold hours of hard work by the departments concerned.
USS Skagit and the Vietnam War
On 5 February 1965 Skagit deployed for Hawaii with other Amphibious units as part of Operation SILVERLANCE. Due to the Vietnam situation, Skagit was removed rom SILVERLANCE and transported Marines and their equiptment from Hawaii to Okinawa. Upon departing Okinawa, Skagit visited Yokosuka, Japan for voyage repairs.
In the summer of 1965 Skagit was selected best "Small Mess" in the annual competition for the famed NEY Award, which signifies the best mess in the entire Navy.
In May of 1965 the Skagit celebrated her 20th anniversary of Commissioned Service in the U.S. Navy by the cutting of the ceremonial cake by Captain William M. McCulley Jr.
The Skagit entered the Bethlehem Steel Yards in Long Beach, California in July 1965 for repair and replacement of her damaged screw, which was sustained near Seal Beach, California.
On 23 August 1965, Skagit deployed to the Far East and remained there until 14 May 1966. This was not to be a peacetime cruise as during the past decade. The United States was committed to the defense of South Vietnam, and the services of Skagit were required for combat operations. On her way west, she carried cargo and marines to Okinawa. Between 13 November and 8 December 1965, she delivered two loads of cargo from Okinawa to Danang.
In January 1966,
Skagit embarked combat cargo and combat-loaded marines at Okinawa in preparation for an amphibious landing. On 28 January, Skagit, as a unit of Task Group 76.6 made an assault landing near Thach Tru in southern Quang Ngai Province, in Operation "Double Eagle". Twelve amphibious force ships landed 5,000 United States Marines against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese there. On 16 February, the ship proceeded to Chu Lai to unload her remaining cargo.
In early March, she returned to Okinawa for another load of cargo and, upon her return to Vietnam, spent the remainder of the month shuttling supplies between Da Nang, Phu Bai, and Chu Lai.
Skagit entered the Todd Shipyard, San Pedro, Calif. on 25 October 1966 for an overhaul and remained there until 7 March 1967. On 31 May, the ship deployed to the western Pacific for a seven month tour, her 17th cruise. She off loaded her cargo at Danang on 29 June and sailed to Sasebo for voyage repairs.
During Aug. and early Sept. 1967 Skagit participted In Operation Schoolhouse Lift delivering 440 prefabricated schoolhouse units to Zamboanga Philppines. It was during this operation the ship suffered the tragic loss of our shipmate Donald J. Van Dyke BM1, who died of injuries from a fall while off loading cargo.
Skagit returned to Vietnam and during the period from 15 September to 1 November, she used her "Mike" boats to transport more than 6,700 tons of combat supplies from Danang up the Song Huong River to Hue.
Skagit returned to San Diego on 10 December 1967, and was in upkeep and/or reduced status .
April 19, 1968, Anacortes Washington rolled out the red carpet to welcome the 250 officers and enlisted men aboard the Skagit. which arrived for a good will visit.
December 1968, Skagit along with two other PHIBRON FIVE ships was administratively transferred to PHIBRON THREE and remained in EASTPAC as PHIBRON FIVE deployed to WESTPAC.
January 1, 1969, her designation was changed from AKA-105 Attack Cargo Ship, to LKA-105, Amphibious Cargo Ship.
Skagit operated along the west coast until 4 April 1969 when she was notified to prepare for inactivation, and administratively transferred to PHIBRON ONE.
Skagit was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list on 1 July 1969. On that date, she was also transferred to the Maritime Administration for disposal. She was later sold to the Ssangyong Trading Co. , Ltd. on 22 April 1974, and broken up for scrap soon thereafter.