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Butte

Counties in California, Idaho, and South Dakota.


A city in southwestern Montana. It is the seat of government for Silver Bow County. Butte (APA-68) was named for the counties in California, Idaho, and South Dakota, while Butte (AE-27) honors the city in Montana.


I


(APA-68: dp. 7,080 (lim.); l. 426'0"; b. 58'0"; dr. 16'0" (lim.); s. 16.9 k. (tl.); cpl. 320; trp. 849; a. 1 5", 8 40mm.; cl. Gilliam; T. S4-SE2-BD1)

The first Butte (APA-68) was laid down on 4 May 1944 at Wilmington, Calif., by the Consolidated Steel Corp. under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1861); launched on 20 July 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Thomas W. Mearns; delivered to the Navy on 21 November 1944; and commissioned on 22 November 1944 at San Pedro, Calif., Comdr. Joseph A. Gillis, USNR, in command.


Following shakedown training along the California coast, Butte embarked troops at San Diego, Calif., and, on 5 January 1945, got underway for the western Pacific. En route to the Philippines, the attack transport made stops of varying duration at Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok, Saipan, Ulithi, and in the Palau Islands. She arrived at Leyte on 21 February and began five weeks of training in preparation for the amphibious assault on Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands. On 27 March, Butte set sail for Okinawa as a unit of Task Group (TG) 55.1 of the Southern Attack Force (Task Force (TF) 55) with elements of the Army's 7th Infantry Division embarked. She arrived off the objective early in the morning of 1 April--the day the assault was launched. During the next two weeks, the attack transport disembarked her troops and helped to repe1 air attacks, both conventional and kamikaze. On one occasion, two of her crewmen suffered wounds, but the ship escaped damage.


On 14 April, Butte departed the Ryukyus with Okinawa wounded embarked. The ship made brief stops at Saipan, Ulithi, and in the Palaus before arriving at Leyte on 24 April. Five days later, she returned to sea to begin making the passenger circuit among the various islands of the western Pacific. Her last port of call in the western Pacific was Eniwetok from which she took departure on 5 June. Butte made an overnight stop at Pearl Harbor on 11 and 12 June and then resumed her voyage to the west coast. She reached San Francisco on 18 June. On the 21st, the attack transport shaped a course for Seattle, Wash. She stayed at Seattle from 23 June to 8 July.


On the latter day, the ship stood out of Seattle to return to the western Pacific. She made a short visit at Eniwetok on 21 and 22 July then continued on to Ulithi where she remained from 25 July to 8 August. From Ulithi, Butte moved on to her true destination, Okinawa, and arrived there on 12 August. Three days later, hostilities ceased; and the Japanese surrendered formally on 2 September. On 5 September, the attack transport put to sea from Okinawa carrying occupation troops to Korea. She arrived at Jinsen, Korea, on 8 September and remained there until the 13th. The ship returned to Okinawa on 18 September towing another transport crippled by a floating mine in the East China Sea. After 11 days at Okinawa, Butte shaped a course for northern China on 26 September carrying another complement of occupation troops. She arrived at Taku, China, on the 30th and remained there until 5 October. From Taku, the ship headed for Manila in the Philippines and an eight-day liberty call.


On 23 October, she laid in a course back to China. Arriving at Kowloon, near Hong Kong, on the 25th, she embarked Chinese Nationalist troops for passage to northern China where the Chinese communists were on the advance. Butte disembarked her first contingent of Chinese soldiers at Chinwangtao between 31 October and 2 November. She returned to Kowloon on 8 November and took additional Nationalist troops on board. The ship departed Kowloon on 10 November and arrived in Tsingtao on the 15th. Later that month, she embarked homeward-bound American servicemen and shaped a course for the west coast of the United States.


Upon her return in mid-December, Butte was assigned to the Commandant, 14th Naval District, for further assignment to Joint Task Force 1, the organization tasked with the nuclear bomb tests scheduled for the summer of 1946 at Bikini Atoll. She voyaged to Pearl Harbor late in February 1946. On 30 May 1946, the attack transport entered the lagoon at Bikini Atoll. She served as a target vessel for both detonations and survived both. Moved to Kwajalein for structural and radiological study, Butte was decommissioned on 29 August 1946. She was sunk as a target on 12 May 1948 a few miles south of Kwajalein. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 28 May 1948.


Butte (APA-68) earned one battle star during World War II.


Raymond A. Mann


21 November 2005