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Walworth County


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Walworth County

(LST-1164: dp. 2,590, 1. 384'; b. 56', dr. 17', s. 14 k.;
cpl. 160; trp. 376; a. 6 3"; cl. LST-1156)

LST-1164 was laid down on 22 September 1962 at Pascagoula, Miss., by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 15 May 1953; sponsored by Mrs. John A. Furr; and commissioned on 26 October 1953, Lt. F. Kay in command.

The new tank landing ship departed Pascagoula on 20 November 1953, bound for Norfolk, VA. She conducted shakedown in the Chesapeake Bay and became a unit of LST Division 23. The ship arrived at her home port of Little Creek, VA., on 3 December 1953. On 6 April 1954, LST-1164 departed the amphibious base for a brief stop at the Naval Reserve training center at Jacksonville, Fla. On 19 April, the ship took part in simulated atomic warfare strikes and returned to Little Creek on 25 May 1954.

She spent June participating in amphibious exercises at Vieques Island, Puerto Rico. LST-1164 returned to Little Creek on 11 July for voyage repairs in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and towing exercises off Little Creek beach.

From 3 November 1954 through 24 March 1955, the ship participated in various exercises with the Marine Corps and the Army in the areas of Camp Pendleton, VA.; Onslow Beach, N.C.; and Vieques Island, Puerto Rico.

On 30 March, the LST entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for a four month overhaul. During that period, she was named Walworth County on 1 July 1955. She returned to Little Creek on 5 August and conducted exercises in the Chesapeake Bay. The ship put to sea on 21 September for atomic attack drills along the eastern seaboard, gunnery practice in operating areas out of Jacksonville, Fla., and assault beaching runs with men of the 3d Marines and their vehicles and combat equipment on the coast of North Carolina. Walworth county returned to Little Creek on 8 November 1955 and spent the following months in local waters with trips to Guantanamo and the Caribbean.

Walworth County left Norfolk with a load of ammunition on 7 May 1956 and, two weeks later, arrived at the United States naval base at Port Lyautey, French Morocco. Two days later, she sailed for Greece and arrived at Piraeus on 30 May for operations with an amphibious task force of the 6th Fleet which took her to principal ports of the Mediterranean. Walworth County returned home to Little Creek on 26 September and spent the remainder of the year in local operating areas.

On 5 March 1957, the tank landing ship arrived at the Naval Base, Coco Solo, Canal Zone. From there, she took survey parties to beaching sites in the Chagres River and other places in preparation for Operation "Caribex" which tested the mobility of American forces in defending the Panama Canal. She returned to Little Creek from this cruise on 16 March and put to sea on 10 April to participate in a three-phase operation involving the Marine Corps, the Army, and the Air Force. The exercise—conducted on Vieques Island, Fort Lorenzo, Canal Zone, and Rio Hata—terminated on 28 April 1957, and Walworth County underwent extended upkeep in the New York Naval Shipyard from 14 May through 11 July. She returned to Little Creek the following day and began local operations which lasted until 14 November 1957. At that time, Walworth County undertook exercises with amphibious warfare forces that included practice assaults with marines on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

The ship returned to Little Creek on 25 March 1958 but a month later headed for Morehead City, N.C. There, she loaded marines and combat cargo in preparation for an amphibious training operation to be held in the Mediterranean with forces of the United Kingdom and Italy. She transited the Strait of Gibraltar on 14 May and visited the ports of Izmir, Turkey, Athens, Greece; and Suda Bay, Crete.

However, the operation was cancelled because of Middle East tensions, and Walworth County had the distinction of acting as a primary control ship in the initial landing of marines at Beirut, Lebanon, on 16 July. Her operations in this area continued until 1 October when she departed Beirut and sailed for the United States. She reached Morehead City on 19 October and became a unit of Amphibious Squadron 6.

From 12 December 1958 to 24 February 1959, Walt worth county underwent an overhaul in the Charleston Naval Shipyard. The ship conducted local operations and visited Guantanamo before sailing for Spain. She arrived at Rota on 30 July and commenced her third Mediterranean tour which lasted until 9 February 1960. She returned to Morehead City and spent the following months conducting practice landings at Onslow Beach, making cruises to Halifax, Nova Scotia and to Bermuda, and completing another tour of duty in the Caribbean Sea that included amphibious warfare practice in the waters of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

On 28 October 1960, Walworth County sailed from Little Creek with Amphibious Squadron 6 for a fourth Mediterranean deployment. The ship gave effective support to assault practice with Marine battalion landing teams at Augusta Bay, Sicily; with Greek Raider Teams at Navplion, Greece; and with both Amphibious Squadrons 6 and 4 and two Marine battalion landing teams at Portoscuso Sardinia.

Walworth county returned to Little Creek on 19 May 1961 and underwent overhaul in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard through September 1961. She spent the remainder of the year in amphibious assault training on Onslow Beach and at Camp Pendleton where she took part in Army landing assault training.

Walworth county departed Little Creek on 17 January 1962, embarked marines at Morehead City, and headed for Guantanamo Bay to participate in Operation "Springboard 62." The ship made calls at several Caribbean ports and then disembarked the marines at Morehead City on 1 March. Four days later, she returned to Norfolk where she was placed on restricted availability status until 15 May 1962.

At that time, Walworth county embarked marines of "Foxtrot" Company, Battalion Landing Team 2/6 and, on 1 June, proceeded to tour the entire length of the Mediterranean from Alicante, Spain, to Marmaris Turkey, where she operated with combined Turkish and Greek forces. After extensive exercises, including seven amphibious training assaults on various beaches she sailed for her home port and arrived at Norfolk on 20 October 1962. The next day, she was called upon to participate in the Cuban blockade and operated in the Caribbean with the ready amphibious group until 4 December when she returned to the United States and debarked marines at Morehead City. Walworth county arrived at Norfolk the following day and spent the remainder of the year in leave and upkeep.

During the early part of 1963, Walworth County conducted local operations in the Little Creek area After entering Gibbs Shipyard, Jacksonville, Fla., on 3 April, she completed her scheduled yard period and sea trials, then headed for Little Creek on 10 June. The ship took part in amphibious refresher training through July and August, followed by a three-week period of restricted availability. During the remainder of 1963, she participated in local operations, visited Rockland, Maine, to obtain tactical data for the LST-1156-class, and underwent overhaul.

In January 1964, Walworth County got underway for Panama where she spent more than four months making 16 transits of the canal—including one round trip which she completed in less than 23 hours. Late in May, she returned to Little Creek and, after tender availability, took part in the "MEBLEX" and midshipman exercises. Following this, she made a call to New York for the World's Fair and returned to Little Creek on 11 August. While in port, Walworth county was used in the production of a Bureau of Medicine and Surgery mental health movie. In late August, LST-1164 again got underway for a lift to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and returned—via Miami, Fla.—on 13 September 1964.

Walworth County spent a short period in the yard before getting underway on 6 October for "Steel Pike I," the largest amphibious exercise since World War II. Besides carrying out her role in the operation, she called at Rota, Spain, and the Canary Islands before returning home on 28 November. Walworth Count
spent the Christmas and New Year holidays undergoing tender availability.

In early February 1965, LST-1164 sailed for Vieques and took liberty in the Virgin Islands and at San Juan and Ponce, Puerto Rico. She arrived back at Little Creek on 8 March and then participated in exercises to train Army personnel in amphibious warfare. Following these training exercises, the ship conducted local operations and made preparations for an upcoming deployment.

Having completed all preparations, Walworth county got underway with Amphibious Squadron (PhibRon) 6 on 24 January 1966. She proceeded to Bermuda as an escort for minesweepers when the squadron was recalled. After spending one week in Bermuda, she returned to Little Creek. On 6 March, the ship got underway for her sixth Mediterranean tour. There, she joined in a combined NATO exercise and other amphibious assault operations. On 1 July, she became a part of PhibRon 8. Walworth County returned to the United States on 2 August, underwent a period of training and upkeep, and then spent the final weeks of August on a midshipman cruise and taking on board dependents of the crew for a day at sea.

On 1 September 1966, Walworth county got underway for Guantanamo Bay with marines embarked. After a short stay, she returned to her home port where she underwent training and upkeep. On 26 September, she headed for the Boston operating area with civilian technicians and representatives from the Naval Ordnance Testing Laboratory. The ship travelled to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to unload testing equipment before returning to Little Creek. On 18 October, Walworth county underwent a period of tender availability. Late in November, she participated in an exercise off Vieques and put into San Juan, Puerto Rico, for repairs. On 15 December, the LST got underway for Little Creek and spent the Christmas holidays at home.

The New Year 1967, found Walworth County in the Norfolk Naval shipyard for repairs to her propellers but she returned to Little Creek on 20 March. After a short trip to New York, the ship got underway on 8 April and headed for the Caribbean to participate in the joint services exercise, "Clove Hitch III." She returned to Little Creek on 4 May and spent a month undergoing maintenance and post-repair training.

September and October were devoted to a goodwill tour off Deal Island, Maryland, and Operation "JCOC 37," an amphibious assault off Onslow Beach N.C. From 27 October to 10 November 1967, Walworth County was deployed to the Caribbean. On the ship's return to Little Creek, she began an overhaul and then prepared for an upcoming Mediterranean tour.

On 3 January 1968, Walworth County got underway for Morehead City, where she embarked marines and loaded equipment. On 6 January, she rendezvoused with five minesweepers and began the voyage across the North Atlantic for her seventh Mediterranean cruise. She reached Rota, Spain, on 3 February and began a series of "Phiblex" exercises which took her to Sardinia and Corsica. Her crew enjoyed leave at Toulon, France; La Spezia and Naples, Italy; and Rota, Spain. On 27 April 1968, Walworth County took part in Operation "Dawn Patrol" involving 40 ships of five nations. The exercises were completed on 12 May at Timbakion Crete. The ship then sailed for Rota, Spain, and steamed across the North Atlantic. Walworth county arrived at Morehead City, N.C., on 8 June 1968 and proceeded to Little Creek where she arrived the next day.

After a month of maintenance, Walworth County participated in a riverine exercise in the James River— which taught the fundamentals of river warfare and lessons learned in Vietnam—from 9 to 19 July. The ship then spent the remainder of July and most of August undergoing a tender availability.

The landing ship got underway on 23 September 1968 for a SOUTHCOM deployment as a member of LST Division 41. After a trip to the Canal Zone, she got underway on 9 October for a visit to Jamaica. Upon reaching Montego Bay, Walworth County was called back to Panama when an uprising overthrew the Panamanian government. She arrived in the Canal Zone on 14 October and, the next day, transited the canal to the Pacific. She remained at the Rodman Naval Station until 8 November 1968.

Loaded with Operation "Handclasp" material, Walworth County got underway for Equador that day and arrived at Guayaquil on 9 November 1968. She returned to Rodman on 17 November and—except for four amphibious landings and a round-trip transit of the canal —remained there until 9 January 1969.

From 1 March to 16 May, LST-1164 underwent upkeep at the Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock Corp. in Berkley, VA. The ship then began a period of upkeep at her home port. On 21 July, she started amphibious refresher training and then prepared for movement overseas. From 15 September through 25 November, the ship operated in the Caribbean Ready Group.

Upon her return to Little Creek, the tank landing ship began another period of leave and upkeep. Then she conducted a training exercise from 12 to 16 January 1970. On 30 January, the ship began a month of tender availability by Vulcan (AR-5) which was moored at the Norfolk Navy Base. This work lasted until 20 February when Walworth County returned to Little Creek.

Following several months of local operations, Walworth county sailed independently on 8 July 1970 for South America. Her mission was primarily one of good will. She delivered earthquake relief supplies to Peruvian ports and carried Project "Handclasp" matefial to Ecuador. For the remainder of the deployment LST-1164 carried out many and varied missions, ranging from being a home for Smithsonian scientists performing marine biology research to acting as a ferryboat for United States exhibits to a regional fair at Bocas del Toro, Panama. During her three-month deployment, Walworth County steamed over 9,000 miles, and she received a letter of commendation from Admiral C. D. Nace, Commander, United States Naval Forces, Southern Command and Commandant, 15th Naval District. After a final transit of the Panama Canal, Walworth County headed homeward, arriving back at Little Creek on 23 October 1970.

Following the post-deployment leave periods, Walworth County commenced preparations for inactivation. On 4 January 1971, operational and administrative control of the ship was shifted from Amphibious Force, United States Atlantic Fleet to the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Norfolk.

After three months of work by her crew, LST-1164 was decommissioned in April 1971. The ship was subsequently towed to Orange, Tex., where she arrived on 14 April 1971. She was drydocked on 11 May for the underwater phase of inactivation with the topside phase scheduled to commence upon completion of the drydock phase.

In May of 1972, Walworth County was scheduled for transfer to the Maritime Administration and layup at Suisun Bay, Calif., but she served with the Military Sealift Command from May 1972 until stricken from the Navy list on 1 November 1973. On 19 June 1974, she was turned over to the Maritime Administration and berthed at Suisun Bay, Calif.

As of April 1979, Walworth County was still with the National Defense Reserve Fleet.