Thursday, July 7, 2011

U.S.S. LST-615

The preliminary plans initially called for an LST 280 feet in length, but in January 1942, the Bureau of Ships discarded these drawings in favor of specifications for a ship 290 feet long.  Within a month, final marking plans were developed that further stretched the overall length to 328 feet and called for a 50-foot beam and minimum draft to three feet nine and a half inches. 

The LST could carry a 2100-ton load of tanks and vehicles.  The larger dimensions also permitted the designers to increase the width of the bow door opening and ramp from 12-14 feet and thus accommodate most Allied vehicles.  The keel of the first LST was laid down on 10 June 1942 at Newport News, Virginia.  The need for an LST was urgent, and the program enjoyed a high priority throughout the war. 

In some instances, heavy industry plants such as steel fabrication yards were converted for LST construction.  This posed the problem of getting the completed ships from the inland building yards to deep water.  The chief obstacles were bridges.  The Navy successfully undertook the modification of bridges, and through a "Ferry Command" of Navy crews, transported the newly-constructed ships to coastal ports for fitting out.

Out of the 1,051 LSTs built during World War II, 670 were constructed by five major inland builders.  By 1943, the construction time for an LST had been reduced to four months!

From their combat debut in Solomon in June 1943 until the end of hostilities in August 1945, the LST performed a vital service in World War II.  Throughout the war, LSTs demonstrated a remarkable capacity to absorb punishment and survive.  The LSTs suffered few losses in proportion to their number and the scope of their operations.  Although the LST was considered a valuable target by the enemy, only twenty-six were lost due to enemy action.

LST-615 was laid down on 04 February 1944 at Seneca, Illinois by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Company, launched 09 May 1944, sponsored by Mrs. Leo Marcoux, and commissioned on 26 May 1944.

During World War II, LST-615 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theatre and participated in the Leyte Landing in October 1944 and the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto in April 1945.  Following the war, LST-615 performed occupation duty in the Far East until mid-November 1945. She was decommissioned on 14 March 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 12 April that same year. 

On 07 April 1948, the ship was sold to Kaiser Company, Inc., Vancouver, Washington, and subsequently scrapped.

LST-615 earned two battle stars for World War II service.

No comments: