Kent County LST-855
Counties in Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Texas.
(LST-855: dp. 1,625; 1. 328'; b. 50'; dr. 11'; s. 12 k.; cpl. 266; a. 8 40mm., 12 20mm.; cl. LST-542)
LST-855 was laid down by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co., Seneca, Ill., 6 September 1944; launched 27 November; sponsored by Mrs. Jean Henning Hoerner; and commissioned 21 December, Lt. (j.g.) Thomas P. Kierl in command.
After shakedown off Florida, LST-855 loaded cargo and departed New Orleans 25 January 1945. Steaming via the Panama Canal and San Diego, she reached Pearl Harbor 28 February. Following repairs and training in Hawaii she sailed 7 April for the Western Pacific. During the remaining months of World War IT, she shuttled supplies and equipment among the Marianas, Philippines, and Okinawa staging areas for a possible invasion of Japan. The enemy's acceptance of Allied peace terms precluded an invasion; and the landing ship then operated between the Philippines and Japan, transporting occupation forces until mid-November.
On 20 November LST-855 departed Guam with over 300 U.S.-bound Pacific veterans on board, arriving San Francisco the following month.
Returning to the Par East seven months later, she arrived Taku, China, 16 July 1946 to support U.S. forces in the area. She made cargo runs among Chinese ports, and served in this capacity until 1949. After the Communist takeover of mainland China, LST-855 returned to the United States, arriving San Diego 29 July 1949. Operating along the West Coast, the veteran landing ship sailed to Alaska in early September for cargo operations in the North Pacific. She returned Seattle 15 November and decommissioned at Bremerton 15 February 1950.
When Communist aggression in Korea threatened the peace and stability of Asia, the United States acted to halt the advance. To aid in the movement of men and equipment, LST-855 recommissioned 3 November, Lt. L. J. Parsons in command. After training off the West Coast, she departed Long Beach 26 March 1951 for duty in the Western Pacific. Arriving Pusan, Korea, 23 May she unloaded cargo for the war effort, then sailed for Yokohama, Japan. For the next 4 months she continued cargo operations out of Japan, before making another cargo run to Korea in mid-October. Two months later she embarked North Korean refugees at Paengyang Do and transferred them to Makpo; and in late December she transported troops and vehicles of the 27th Infantry Regiment combat team from Inchon to Koje Do. LST-855 departed Yokosuka, Japan, 25 February 1952 for a stateside overhaul.
She was back in the Far East 2 November, and resumed cargo operations out of Japan and Korea. For the remainder of the Korean conflict, she shuttled between Korean and Japanese ports as a logistic support ship. Following the July 1953 armistice which ended the fighting, LST-855 continued cargo runs, operated as a station ship, and transported prisoners of war for repatriation. Returning San Diego 25 September, she operated off the West Coast for the rest of 1953.
The landing ship sailed for another Far East tour 28 May 1954, arriving Yokosuka I month later. While operating with 7th fleet units from August to October, she participated in the "Passage to Freedom" Operation. She carried refugees, troops and supplies from Northern Indo China and transported them to the South, where they would establish a free form of government.
LST-855 continued operating in the Far East; and on 6 February 1955 she was en route to the Tachen Islands to evacuate Nationalist Chinese troops to Formosa when their positions could no longer be defended. Loading 300 troops and vehicles, she departed Tachen Islands 10 February; and, after off-loading at Keelung, Formosa, she resumed duties out of Japan.
Returning San Diego 20 April, LST-855 performed amphibious exercises off the West Coast for the remainder of the year. She was named Kent County 15 July 1955. Kent County made her final WestPac cruise in August 1956, engaging in amphibious exercises with 7th Fleet units, then returning to the United States 14 May 1957. She performed amphibious exercises off the West Coast and Hawaii until she decommissioned 22 January 1958. Kent County was used as a target and destroyed 19 March 1958.
LST-855 received six battle stars for the Korean conflict.