USS Pinkney

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Pinkney APH-2

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Pinkney
(APH-2: dp. 11,500 (f.); 1. 450'; b. 62'; dr. 23'6"; s. 18 k.;
cpl. 460; trp. 1,166; a. 1 5", 12 40 mm.; cl. Tryon;
T. Z-C2-Sl-A1)

Pinkney (APH-2) was laid down as Alcoa Coreair (MC hull 176), 3 June 1941, by the Moore Dry Dock Co., Oakland, Calif.; launched 4 December 1941; sponsored by Miss Ruth Grove; designated for Navy use and assigned the name Mercy. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, she was renamed Pinkney, 13 August 1942, acquired, by the Navy 27 November 1942, and commissioned the same day, Comdr. A. L. Hutson in command.

Following extensive fitting out and shakedown, Pinkney departed San Diego for Pearl Harbor and the South Pacific 27 January 1943. In mid-February, she arrived at Esuiritu Santo, whence she sailed to Purvis Bay to deliver reinForcements and replacements to the veteran units of the fight for Tulagi and Gavutu. Throughout the remaining battles for the Solomons, among them Munda, Vella Lavella, Shortlands, Bougainville, and the numerous engagements in the "Slot", she brought men, food and ammunition forward and evacuated casualties from field hospitals to better facilities on New Caledonia and in New Zealand. She also transported American and New Zealand nurses to and between various southwest Pacific hospitals.

By August, 1944, island hopping had carried the Allies to and past the Marshalls and Marianas. On 8 September, Pinkney departed Guadalcanal for the Palaus, the next group enroute to the Philippines. On the 15th, she delivered her passengers, men of the 1st Marine Regiment, to LVTs which took them on to the beaches at Peleliu. She then took up position 6,000 yards off the assault area to expedite offloading of equipment and embarkation of easualities. On the 20th she sailed for Manus, whence she returned to the Palaus, again and again, to evacuate the wounded.

In early October, she returned briefly to the Solomons, then sailed for Hollandia, then the Philippines. Into November, she evacuated Leyte casualties to Hollandia, Manus, and New Caledonia. In December, she prepared for the Luzon invasion. On 9 January 1945, she landed Army troops on the Lingayen beaches, and, onee again, assumed responsibilities for the care and evacuation of casualties, this time to Leyte.

In late February, while en route to the Solomons, she was diverted to Guam, thence to Iwo Jima. On the 28th, she returned to Guam, disembarked her patients and began preparations for her last campaign, Okinawa.

On 1 and 2 April, Pinkney participated in the feints against southern Okinawa, then shifted to the Hagushi assault area where she landed Marine combatant and hospital units on the 10th. Casualties, from ships and from ashore, were soon filling her hospital wards. Caring for patients and expediting transferral of others to the hospital ship Satnaritan (AH-10), she dodged enemy shells and kamikazes until the 28th.

On that day, at 1730, a low flying kamikaze was spotted closing the ship. Seconds later Pinkney was rocked by an explosion and the after-end of the superstructure was walled by a sheet of flame. Ammunition began to explode. Water lines, electrical conduits, and steam pipes ruptured. The crew immediately formed rescue and damage control parties. Live ammunition was thrown overboard. All but 16 patients, killed in the initial explosion, were transferred to safety.

Rescue tugs and landing craft moved hl to assist in fire fighting, but the flames continued for another three hours, by which time Pinkney had lost 18 of her crew and had taken on a heavy list to port. A jagged hole, 30 feet in diameter, extended from the bridge deck to the bulkhead deck. All wards in the amidship hospital area were burned out.

Temporary repairs took 8 days. On 9 May, Pinkney got underway for Saipan enroute to the United States. She arrived at San Francisco, 8 June, underwent repairs, and on 21 October, sailed for the Far East again, this time to carry replacements and occupation troops to Tokyo and Sasebo and return with veterans. By February, 1946, she had eompleted another west coast-Far East run. Inactivation followed and on 9 September she was returned to the Maritime Commission and simultaneously transferred to the Army Transportation Service.

Converted to an AP, by the Puget Sound Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., and renamed Private Widen H. Johneon, 31 October 1947, she remained with ATS until returned to the Maritime Commission, thence to the Navy, 1 March 1950. Designated AP-184, she joined the newly formed MSTS and was assigned a civil service crew. As an MSTS vessel, she plied the same waters, Atlantic Mediterranean-Adriatie, as she had under ATS until mid-1951, when runs to Caribbean ports were added to her schedule.

Private Widen H. Johnson continued to serve the Navy until 1957. On 27 December, she was transferred to the Maritime Administration's National Defense Reserve Fleet and her name was struck from the Navy List. Into 1970, she remains with the NDRF, berthed with the Hudson River group.

Pinkney (APH-2) earned four battle stars during World War II.