King County LST-857


King County

Counties in Texas and Washington.

(LST-857: dp. 1,625; 1. 328'; b. 50'; dr. 14'1"; s. 12 k.; cpl. 226; a. 8 40mm, 12 20mm.; cl. LST-511)

LST-587 was laid down by Chicago Bridge & Iron Co., Seneca, Ill., 19 September 1944; launched 6 December 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Beatrice Snow Major; and commissioned at New Orleans, La., 29 December 1944, Lt. Roy C. Parlier in command.

After shakedown off the Florida coast, LST-857 departed New Orleans for the Pacific I February 1945. Steaming via the Panama Canal, she touched the Hawaiian and Marshall Islands and reached Guam 30 March. There she loaded bombs and ammunition and departed 21 April for Iwo Jima. Steaming via Saipan, she reached Iwo Jima I May, unloaded her cargo, then sailed 18 May. Carrying 334 enemy prisoners, she returned to Guam the 21st.

Between 23 and 30 May, LST-857 carried a cargo of fog oil to Okinawa. She supplied ships at Hagushi until 24 June. Returning to Guam the 4th of July, she loaded troops and Army construction equipment, then sailed for Okinawa the 16th. She operated there from 28 July to 5 August; and, after returning to Saipan 11 August, she loaded cargo and departed for the Philippines 3 September.

LST-857 arrived San Pedro Bay, Leyte, 10 September and was assigned to support occupation operations in Japan. After embarking ordnance and construction troops and loading equipment at Iloilo, Panay, and Batangas, Luzon, she sailed in convoy for Japan 20 September. She reached Tokyo Bay the 29th and, until 25 October, operated along the coast of Honshu shuttling occupation troops and cargo. She returned to the Philippines early in November; and, after embarking additional troops, she returned to Japan 18 November and resumed occupation operations. Departing Yokohama 15 December, she steamed via Saipan and Pearl Harbor to the United States and arrived San Francisco 25 January 1946.

During the next six months LST-857 operated along the California coast between San Francisco and San Diego. She departed San Diego 31 July, reached Pearl Harbor 11 August, and began supply runs under Service Force, Pacific Fleet. For more than 3 years she operated out of Pearl Harbor, carrying passengers and supplies to bases in the Hawaiian Islands and to Johnson and Canton Islands. Between 3 April and 6 August 1948 she deployed to the Marshall Islands where she conducted shuttle service among the atolls.

Departing Pearl Harbor 3 January 1950, LST-857 returned to the West Coast 14 January. After overhaul at Mare Island, she operated out of Astoria, Oregon, and San Diego until I July when she departed San Francisco for Hawaii. She arrived Pearl Harbor 11 July; and, after serving briefly as interisland transport, she departed 18 August to support the effort to repel Communist aggression in South Korea. She arrived Yokosuka, Japan, -4 September, then shifted to Kobe, Japan, the next day. After embarking men and equipment of the 1st Marine Engineer Battalion, she sortied 10 September as part of an amphibious attack convoy bound for Inchon, South Korea.

Assigned to Task Element 90.32, LST-857 arrived off Inchon 15, September while a heavy air-sea bombardment pounded enemy shore positions. Late that afternoon, she closed Red Beach under heavy mortar and machine gun fire to take part in landings which were designed to spearhead an Allied offensive northward. Despite concentrated enemy fire, she debarked assault troops and unloaded vital supplies and equipment. In addition she provided counter-battery fire and embarked battle casualties for emergency treatment. For daring bravery and heroic performance of duty on Red Beach, the aggressive and intrepid tank landing ships, including LST-57, received the Navy Unit Commendation.

LST-857 completed unloading and departed the beach early 16 September. She returned to Sasebo, Japan, 19 September. She again returned to Inchon 2 October and delivered a cargo of ammunition to Missouri (BB-63). On 14 October she departed Sasebo for Hawaii and arrived Pearl Harbor 3 November. Following shipyard repairs, she departed 1 December on a cargo run to the Marshall Islands. During the next 10 months she conducted passenger and cargo service out of Pearl Harbor to the Marshall, Samoa, and Palmyra Islands, as well as to ports in the Hawaiian Islands.

Departing Pearl Harbor 28 September 1951, LST-857 sailed for the Far East and arrived Yokohama 18 October. On the 22d she sailed for Sasebo where she arrived 26 October to prepare for shuttle duty along the vital water supply line between Japan and Korea. Operating primarily out of Sasebo, she transported men and supplies to ports along the western coast of Korea. In addition she supplied fleet activities along the coast of Japan. She sailed for the United States 23 September 1954, touched at Pearl Harbor 9 October, and arrived San Diego 22 October.

LST-857 returned to Pearl Harbor from San Diego 27 November; and, after overhaul, she began passenger and cargo runs between Pearl Harbor and Midway 2 February 1955. Renamed King County I July, she continued this duty until August 1956. Between 17 August and 12 September she made a supply run to the Marshalls; then she sailed for the West Coast 1 October, arriving Oakland the 11th. She entered the Mare Island Naval Shipyard 12 October and began conversion to an experimental guided missile test ship. Reclassified AG-157 on 17 May 1958, she completed conversion 15 November, then departed for testing and evaluation operations out of San Diego and Port Hueneme.

While undergoing conversion, King County appeared as though she had swallowed a submarine. A mock-up submarine hull was installed on her deck for use in testing a prototype missile handling system. In addition she received launching, recording, and evaluation equipment for testing the launch and flight capabilities of Regulus II guided missiles. Capable of carrying four missiles in her hangar, she was designed as a mobile testing center for these surface-to-surface missiles.

Assigned to Submarine Squadron 5, King County conducted her first missile engine firing 8 December while operating in the Pacific Missile Range. She fired her first Regulus 11 missile 2 days later. During the next 6 months she performed simulated missile launchings and served on telemetry and recovery stations in the Pacific Missile Range. Moreover, she supported the development of America's space program and participated in tracking and recovering missile nose cones.

Transferred to the 11th Naval District I July 1959, she continued operating as a missile tracking and recovery ship. During the next year she cruised the missile range off Southern California and Baja California supporting missile firing and recovery operations. Operating out of Port Hueneme, she participated in tracking Corvus missile firings in May and July 196O. She also supported the telemetering and recovery of the data capsule from Discovery XII. After returning to Port Hueneme 8 July, she steamed to Long Beach 19 July and decommissioned the same day. She was sold to Zidell Explorations Inc., 25 April 1961.

LST-857 received one battle star for World War II service and seven battle stars for Korean service.