A county in southeastern Massachusetts, coterminous with Cape Cod.
(LST-1197: displacement 8,342; length 522'3"; beam 69'5"; draft 15'; speed 20 knots; complement 231; armament 4 3-inch; class Newport)
Barnstable County (LST-1197) was laid down on 19 December 1970 at San Diego, Calif., by the National Steel and Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 2 October 1971; sponsored by Mrs. Mary Ellen Sanders, wife of Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Installations and Logistics) Frank P. Sanders; and commissioned at Long Beach, Calif., on 27 May 1972, Comdr. Warren R. Ellsworth in command.
Between 27 May and 24 July 1972, Barnstable County completed fitting out, first at Long Beach and then at San Diego in July. On 24 July, she set sail from San Diego bound for her permanently assigned base of operations, Little Creek, Va. She transited the Panama Canal on 7 August and reached Little Creek on the 14th. On 6 September, the ship got underway for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, whence she conducted shakedown training until returning to Little Creek on 21 October. Barnstable County completed her final contract trials early in November and then settled into a training routine that lasted until the first week in December. At that time, she began an extended stay at Little Creek that carried her into the new year. After loading ammunition on 11 January 1973, she proceeded to Morehead City, N.C., to embark marines. From there, the tank landing ship set course for the West Indies where she visited Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, Vieques Island and Roosevelt Roads in Puerto Rico, and St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands before returning to Little Creek on the 24th. She carried out training landings at Onslow Beach, N.C., on 31 January and conducted independent ship's exercises on 1 and 2 February.
After spending the rest of February 1973 in port at Little Creek, Barnstable County got underway on the 28th, bound ultimately for the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. She completed a couple of brief collateral missions along the way and arrived in Philadelphia on 1 March. There she began her post-shakedown overhaul, an evolution that occupied her for all of March and the first two weeks of April. The ship returned to Little Creek on 13 April and commenced amphibious warfare training operations in nearby waters. These operations, largely preparations for her fall deployment to the West Indies as a unit of Caribbean Amphibious Ready Group (CARG) 2-73, took place all through the summer at locations near Little Creek, or at Onslow Beach, on the North Carolina coast. In addition, they were coordinated with the training requirements for other military organizations as well. Thus, during her July missions, she introduced NROTC midshipmen to amphibious warfare as a part of their summer cruise practical training. In August, she provided a similar opportunity to Marine Corps student officers.
On 4 September 1973, Barnstable County departed Little Creek to deploy to the West Indies. She embarked marines at Morehead City on the 5th and resumed her voyage to Guantanamo Bay. Arriving there early on 9 September, Barnstable County opened her deployment with a landing exercise. For the next month, she participated in a series of amphibious warfare exercises at Vieques and made port calls at such places as Roosevelt Roads and San Juan in Puerto Rico and at Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. On 8 October, the ship left San Juan to return home. She dropped the marines off at Morehead City on 11 October and reentered port at Little Creek on the 12th. She stayed in Little Creek for the rest of October but got underway for the Caribbean again on 1 November. Barnstable County picked up her marine contingent at Morehead City on the 2d and arrived at Colon, Panama, on the 6th. On 7 November, she sailed to Cartagena, Colombia, for a five-day port call that included participation in the celebration of Colombia’s national holiday on the 11th. She returned to Colon on the 13th to reembark her marines and, after a visit to the Dutch island of Curaçao between the 17th and the 20th, set a course for Puerto Rico. Over the next three weeks, Barnstable County participated in a series of amphibious exercises carried out at nearby Vieques and Roosevelt Roads. When not engaged in the landing drills, she made port calls at such places as St. John on Antigua, St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, and San Juan in Puerto Rico. On 10 December, the ship departed San Juan for the voyage via Morehead City to Little Creek. She reached her home port again on 14 December and stood down for the rest of the year.
The standdown extended well into January 1974. She did not get underway again until the third week in the month when she reembarked upon local training assignments. Even that return to activity, however, proved to be of short duration for she returned to port on 25 January and stayed there for almost 15 weeks. In mid-April, orders to prepare for an unscheduled Mediterranean deployment sent her crew to the administrative equivalent of general quarters. On 9 May, Barnstable County set out for European waters with the other ships of PhibRon 8. She took on marines at Morehead City on the 10th and then headed out across the Atlantic. She reached Rota, Spain, on 20 May and received word there of her assignment to the multinational effort to clear the Suez Canal of the sunken ships that had barred passage since 1967. After amphibious exercises at Carbonares, Italy, and Izmir, Turkey, Barnstable County finally reached the Suez Canal on 8 June, though she did not actually enter Port Said until the 9th.
Barnstable County relieved Inchon (LPH-12) as support ship for the canal-clearing operation. Inchon had supported the mine-clearing phase of the task, an appropriate choice since that phase been conducted by helicopters. Barnstable County assumed support duties consisting largely of communications and logistics responsibilities. On 22 June, the tank landing ship made the six-hour transit of the canal south to her duty station at Ismailia. There, she rode at anchor in Lake Timsah for just over 15 weeks. On 8 October, Barnstable County made the canal passage north to Port Said where she was relieved of her duties by tank landing ship Boulder (LST-1190) on the 9th. That afternoon, she began the long voyage back to Little Creek. Engineering problems with her main engines, caused by bad fuel, forced her to pause at Soudha Bay, Crete, for two days to refuel and then she made a five-day liberty call at Palma de Majorca before arriving in Rota on 22 October. There, she refueled quickly and resumed her passage home that same evening. Barnstable County reentered Little Creek on 1 November. She spent the remainder of 1974 in port, engaged in post-deployment standdown at first and then in holiday standdown later.
Her extended period of inactivity finally came to an end in January 1975 when she began preparations for a deployment with the Caribbean amphibious ready group. She was underway from 7 to 10 January to load ammunition and to conduct independent ship’s exercises and again from the 14th to the 16th to carry out weapons systems training. On 23 January, Barnstable County embarked on her only deployment of 1975. After embarking marines at Morehead City, she set course for Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, where she arrived on 1 February. For two weeks, the ship engaged in a variety of drills and exercises before damage to a bearing in her port shaft forced her into dry dock at San Juan for repairs on the 17th. She completed those repairs by the end of February, and, after refueling on 1 March and reembarking the marines at Vieques on the 2d, laid in a course home. The marines disembarked at Morehead City on 6 March, and Barnstable County stood into Little Creek again the next day.
Following her return from the West Indies, the tank landing ship remained in port until the middle of April 1975. At that time, she got underway to participate in some amphibious exercises conducted nearby during the third week in April. Barnstable County visited Washington, D.C., in May; and, early in June, she made two short cruises to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and back to Little Creek while serving as a training platform for NROTC midshipmen. The ship remained in port during July, but, in the first part August, she took up midshipman training once more with a voyage back to Halifax, this time by way of New York City. Refresher training occupied her during the rest of August and the first week in September and then she underwent two successive availabilities in preparation for overseas assignment at the beginning of 1976. That maintenance work ended late in October, and Barnstable County resumed local training operations out of Little Creek in November. Early in December, a board of inspection and survey visited the ship, and she carried out her last underway period of the year on the 8th and the 9th in conjunction with that inspection.
Barnstable County left Norfolk on 5 January 1976 and steamed to Morehead City, N.C., in company with the four other units of PhibRon 8 -- Spiegel Grove (LSD-32), Raleigh (LPD-1), Guadalcanal (LPH-7), and Charleston (LKA-113). Arriving at Morehead City on the 6th, the ships loaded the 34th Marine Amphibious Unit (34th MAU) for rehearsal landings at Onslow Beach. After completing the weather-delayed exercises, Barnstable County finally got underway for Rota on 10 January. The Atlantic crossing proved difficult and took longer than anticipated because engineering problems plagued several ships of the squadron. Upon arrival in Rota turnover formalities proceeded quickly, and Barnstable County officially joined the 6th Fleet. Plans for a landing exercise on Spain’s Atlantic coast had to be canceled as a result of civil war in Lebanon, and the squadron passed through the Strait of Gibraltar instead on its way to Augusta Bay, Sicily. The civil unrest in Lebanon dominated the ship’s schedule for the remainder of the cruise.
During her first stop in the Mediterranean, Barnstable County anchored with the squadron at Sicily for a few days. In the course of the training anchorage visit there, a violent storm broke with winds exceeding 50 knots. Upon departing Augusta Bay after the storm subsided the ship headed for its first liberty port, Reggio di Calobia, on the Italian Riviera. The ship arrived on 1 February 1976 and stayed until 6 February. Departing Reggio on a Friday the ship arrived at Brindisi, Italy, the following day for a seven day training anchorage visit. The ship then proceeded to Villefranche, France, arriving on 16 February. Barnstable County left Villefranche on 23 February and proceeded to Monte Romano, Italy, where she carried out more amphibious training late in February. Early in March, the ship made a four-day port call at Naples, putting to sea again on the 5th bound for Sardinia to participate in NATO Exercise Sardinia '76. After conducting a simulated opposed passage to Sardinia, Barnstable County sent her marines ashore in the first wave and then took little further part in the evolution. At the mission's conclusion, she reembarked the marines on 18 March and headed for Syracuse, Sicily, where her crew enjoyed a week of liberty.
On 26 March 1976, urgent orders interrupted Barnstable County’s employment schedule once more and sent her to a holding area just east of Crete in response to an intensification of the situation in Lebanon. For the first few weeks, she steamed squares in the ocean while rehearsing contingency plans for a possible evacuation of Americans from Beirut. Despite the passage of time, the Lebanese political scene remained volatile; so the squadron moved to a deep water anchorage outside Crete’s territorial waters. April and May came and went without any real change, except that, late in May, the squadron got underway and steamed closer to Lebanon. Finally, after 69 days at sea, a lull in the fighting coupled with negotiations in progress allowed Barnstable County to proceed to Naples for a scheduled port call. The visit lasted from 1 to 4 June, and, then the squadron left for an amphibious exercise conducted at Carboneras, Spain, upon the conclusion of which the squadron returned to the eastern Mediterranean and resumed station off Lebanon.
That time, the squadron moved to within 30 miles of the Lebanese coast. Spiegel Grove closed to within 25 miles of the shore and dispatched an LCU to the beach while Barnstable County and the other ships stood by on station. After Spiegel Grove evacuated several hundred civilians, the squadron moved back near the coast of Crete, where its relief soon arrived. The turnover process, during which the new squadron assumed stand-by duties, lasted two days; and then Barnstable County shaped a westerly course for Rota. She reached Rota on 30 June 1976 and stayed there until 5 July when she embarked on a northerly passage home. Barnstable County arrived back in Little Creek on 15 July. Post-deployment leave and upkeep took up the rest of July and most of August.
On 20 August 1976, the ship returned to sea to participate in Operation Teamwork ’76. That exercise comprised a North Atlantic cruise during which she transported equipment for a Marine Corps air wing. After a delayed transit and a fuel stop in Scotland, the ship finally reached the first stop on its exercise itinerary--Oslo, Norway. The marines disembarked there for a two weeks of training, and the ship departed for liberty calls at Trondheim, Norway, and Copenhagen, Denmark. After two rainy days in Trondheim and a week's stay at Copenhagen, Barnstable County returned to Oslo to reembark the marines and carry them to their next operation. On 1 October, the ship entered Esberg, Denmark, to unload equipment. After four days, she got underway for a liberty call at Nantes, France, where she served as the Navy's official representative at a celebration in honor of the Bicentennial of the United States. Getting underway on 11 October, the ship stopped next at Bremerhaven, Germany, arriving on the 18th and staying until the 21st. On 22 October, the ship moored at Esberg once more to load the marine gear. The ship made her final port visit of the cruise--at Portsmouth, England--between 26 and 29 October.
Barnstable County got underway to return to the United States on 29 October. She stopped at Morehead City on 9 November to disembark the marines and unload their equipment and then headed north to Little Creek where she arrived on the 11th. Between 29 November and 3 December, the ship got underway for one final amphibious exercise period. For the rest of the month, she prepared for the Caribbean exercise scheduled for early January 1977.
On 13 January 1977, Barnstable County sailed from Little Creek as part of Atlantic Amphibious Ready Group (LARG) 3-76. She and the other ships of PhibRon 8 loaded elements of the 34th Marine Amphibious Unit (34th MAU) on 14 January in Morehead City, N. C. On 16 January, the unit conducted a rehearsal landing at Onslow Beach, N.C. The following day, the constituent elements of LARG 3-76 rendezvoused and headed south to Vieques. The LARG rehearsed the landing on 22 January and then carried out the actual exercise on the following day. After reloading the 34th MAU, the LARG departed Vieques on 26 January for port visits in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Barnstable County left San Juan on the 30th and headed back to Vieques for another landing exercise, a major multilateral operation involving British, Brazilian, and Dutch forces in addition to those of the Navy and Marine Corps. At the conclusion of their participation, the Dutch marines embarked in Barnstable County, and the tank landing ship returned them to their base on Curaçao. She met up with the LARG again briefly at Vieques on 12 February before making a three-day port visit to Fredericksted, St. Croix. She rejoined the LARG to conduct Fleet exercises and transit back to Little Creek. The ship landed the marines at Morehead City on 22 February and reentered her home port the next day.
Scheduled underway time for Barnstable County became more limited for the next several months. During March, the ship participated in local operations consisting primarily of training with marine reservists on Anzio Beach at Little Creek. In April, crew members took advantage of an opportunity to fill gaps in their training while the ship underwent various inspections and carried out exercises in port. She returned to sea in May to participate in the joint Exercise Solid Shield 77. After some "wet net" training with the Army in the first week of May, preparations were begun to load causeways and embark Marines. On 12 May, the ship headed south for Morehead City, arriving the following day. During the unloading that followed the landing, Barnstable County helped refine some new techniques for discharging fuel from LSTs. The first operations involved refueling minesweepers while at anchor. A rig was streamed aft and four MSO's were refueled in succession. The following day fuel was pumped ashore via a buoyed pipeline. All the bulk fuel the ship carried for marine vehicles was pumped to a reservoir on shore. The operation proved entirely successful. Barnstable County then returned to Little Creek early on 23 May.
At the beginning of June, the ship proceeded to its next assignment--as visit ship at Annapolis, Md. during the Naval Academy's June Week. She returned to Little Creek on the 8th and resumed local duty until the end of the month. On the 30th, the ship headed up Chesapeake Bay once again, this time ascending the Potomac River to Washington, D. C. That weekend the ship moored at the Washington Navy Yard, where she hosted a throng of visitors to the ship during the Independence Day holiday. After returning to Little Creek on the 5th, Barnstable County embarked Marine Corps reservists later in the week for a training exercise at Onslow Beach on the North Carolina coast. The exercise began on 11 July and continued through the 19th. She carried out two more reserve training landings at Little Creek’s Anzio Beach during the last week of July and the first week in August. On 10 August, she headed for the West Indies once more to serve as a launch platform for target drone missiles. Barnstable County made a three-day port visit at Nassau in the Bahamas before picking up the drones at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. After the exercise, she spent several days in St. Thomas, and then steamed back to Little Creek.
On 19 September, the ship left Little Creek for a delayed and much needed overhaul which was to be completed in two phases and at two different yards. The first phase, carried out at the Maryland Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. in Baltimore, Md., began late in September and lasted until 7 December. After that, Barnstable County stood back down Chesapeake Bay bound for Horne Brothers Shipyard in Newport News, Va., conducting sea trials as she went. The ship began the second phase at the Horne Brothers yard on 9 December with an anticipated completion date of 2 May 1978. She commenced sea trials late in May and returned to duty with PhibRon 8 on 2 June 1978. On 18 June, the ship arrived at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and commenced three weeks of refresher training. Immediately upon return from the West Indies, the ship launched into three weeks of amphibious refresher training at Little Creek, Va.
Between 30 July and 12 August, she served as the launching platform for five BQM-34 target drones used to test missile systems in COMTUEX 4-78. On 21 August, the tank landing ship sailed for Morehead City, where she embarked marines and loaded vehicles for Exercise "Northern Wedding" a multinational exercise that stressed cooperation between NATO members and in which over 100 ships from 10 countries took part. The exercise commenced on 23 August with Barnstable County serving with the attached ARG. After 21 days of steaming, the ship arrived in Brunsbüttelkoog, Germany, to disembark her passengers. From that point, the mission of the cruise changed. The emphasis shifted from military preparedness to cultural exchange. The ports visited included Kiel, Germany; Edinburgh, Scotland; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Brest, France. She returned to Little Creek on 30 October and, except for a short underway off the North Carolina coast between 27 November and 7 December, spent the rest of the year there in an upkeep status.
The new year of 1979 found Barnstable County completing preparation for a five month Mediterranean deployment. On 10 January 1979, she departed Little Creek in company with her PhibRon 2 squadron mates--Inchon (LPH-2), Austin (LPD-4), Spiegel Grove and Spartanburg County (LST-1192)--a total of five ships that also comprised MARG 1-79. On 11 January, the unit arrived in Morehead City, N.C., and Barnstable County embarked elements of BLT 3/8. The ship sailed from Morehead City to Onslow Beach, where she loaded 14 LVT's. From there, MARG 1-79 embarked on a 12-day Atlantic crossing, arriving at Rota, Spain, on the 23 January. After relieving her counterpart in LARG 3-78, the tank landing ship left Rota on the 26 January as a unit of the 6th Fleet. She called at Almeria, Spain, between 27 January and 1 February and then headed for the vicinity of Carboneras, Spain, where she conducted amphibious drills with MARG 1-79 units. Following an availability carried out from 10 to 23 February at Barcelona, Spain, the ship joined units of the 6th Fleet and of the Italian Navy in a "National Week" exercise. Barnstable County then spent a fortnight in Naples from 10 to 24 March before setting a course for the Greek coast to conduct amphibious operations off Vatica. She completed that mission on 31 March and returned to Naples for availability alongside Sierra (AD-18). The ship departed Naples on 6 April and anchored near Pania de Spila on the 17th to conduct amphibious training. Ten days later, she set sail for Toulon, France, arriving on 28 April.
Barnstable County departed Toulon on 2 May bound for Palma, Spain, which port she visited from the 3d to the 7th. Returning to Toulon, she embarked elements of the Norwegian and Dutch Armies and put to sea again on 9 May to participate in the multinational Exercise "Dawn Patrol." The ship conducted rehearsal landings at Capo Teulado, Sardinia, on 13 and 14 May and then carried the actual assault exercise at Doganbey Bay, Turkey, on 25 May. The ship arrived back in Toulon on 28 May, disembarked the Allied troops, and sailed for Rota, arriving there on the 31st. Units of MARG 1-79 conducted its turnover with units of MARG 2-79 and sailed for home on 6 June. The ship stopped at Morehead City, N.C., on 18 June to disembark the marines and unload the 14 LVT's before continuing on to Little Creek that same day. She arrived back in Little Creek on the 19 June. The ship remained in its home port until 26 July at which time she sailed north to New Haven, Conn., where she carried out training for the Naval Reserve unit based there. On 1 August, Barnstable County departed New Haven to arrive in Little Creek on 9 August.
She spent the next four weeks getting ready for overseas movement. On 11 September, Barnstable County sailed from Little Creek with Amphibious Group (PhibGru) 2 in Task Group (TG) 21.1. On 12 September, the ship first stopped at Morehead City to embark elements of HQRLT-8 and then at Onslow Beach to load LVT's. From there, Barnstable County then set out across the Atlantic. After an expeditious passage, she entered the Mediterranean and made for Capo Teulado, Sardinia, where she arrived on 27 September. At Capo Teulado, all participants of Exercise "Display Determination 79" rendezvous and conducted rehearsal landings. On 1 October, she sailed in company with 11 other ships to Saros Bay, Turkey, arriving there on 8 October. For a period of 10 days, this multinational force conducted rehearsals and cross-deck training. On 18 October, Barnstable County set out for Barcelona. She reached her destination on 22 October and pursued five days of liberty, returning to sea on 27 October for the voyage back to Rota and turnover formalities. The stop at Rota lasted from 29 October to 1 November, at which time she headed back across the Atlantic. The ship took a somewhat circuitous route home, steaming by way of the Virgin Islands and, from there, around Puerto Rico through the Windward Passage up the Old Bahama Channel skirting the eastern fringe of the Florida Strait and then along the east coast to Morehead City. Barnstable County disembarked the marines at Morehead City on 18 November and then sailed for Little Creek, where she arrived on the 19th.
She spent the rest of 1979 and the first two weeks of 1980 in port engaged in post-deployment leave and upkeep. The ship resumed normal operations on 14 January when she put to sea to participate in READEX 1-80. En route to Puerto Rico, she paused at Onslow Beach for four days from 15 to 19 January to allow reservists to train in LVT operations. Underway again on the 20th, she proceeded to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, where she arrived four days later. Barnstable County spent the night of the 24th in port after loading four drones and proceeded on the 25th to the Mobil Sea Range, near the Bahamas. Upon successfully launching and completing the portion of an air exercise, she returned to Roosevelt Roads to unload the drone launching equipment and refuel before get underway for Freeport in the Bahamas for a five-day liberty call at the beginning of February. The ship returned to Little Creek on 14 February. There, she spent the next 12 days preparing to be visited by a board of inspection and survey. She got underway briefly on 28 and 29 February to load ammunition. Back at Little Creek on 1 March, she completed her preparations for the inspection only to have it canceled by record snow storms. The ship remained busy, however, getting ready to deploy overseas.
Those preparations shifted into high gear on 14 April when Barnstable County got underway in company with Guadalcanal (LPH-7), Nashville (LPD-13), and La Moure County (LST-1194) for Bloodsworth Island to conduct a simulated night raid and gun shoot along the way. The task group took a break from the work of readying itself for its mission as MARG 2-80 when it visited Newport, R.I., during the third week in April. The task force concluded its visit on the 20th and headed for Onslow Beach, N.C., where it trained from the 22d to the 24th, and then proceeded to Camp Pendleton, Va., for an early morning assault rehearsal on the 25th. She spent the last weekend in April in Little Creek and returned to Onslow Beach to complete the final week of pre-deployment training. She returned to Little Creek on 2 May for a month of final preparations for overseas movement. The tank landing ship began her Mediterranean deployment on 4 June. She stopped at Morehead City on the 5th to embark marines, and then stood out across the Atlantic.
Barnstable County arrived in Rota on 17 June, completed turnover procedures with MARG 1-80, and departed Rota on 21 June. She entered the Mediterranean Sea and proceeded to Carboneras, Spain, where she participated in eight days of amphibious training at the end of June. At the end of those evolutions, she called at Palma de Majorca over the Independence Day holiday. Back at sea on the 5th, Barnstable County set a course for the Tunisian coast of North Africa, where she took part in training operations in cooperation with the Tunisian Army and Navy during the second week in July. From there, her task group steamed for the Suez Canal through which it passed on the 17th. After navigating the Gulf of Suez, the Red Sea, and the Gulf of Aden, she proceeded down the east coast of Africa to Mombasa, Kenya where she made a three-day port call at the end of the month. She Mombasa with the task group on 31 July and headed back toward the Mediterranean.
Retransiting the canal on 9 August, her unit set course for Kalamata, Greece and a three-day liberty call from 11 to 14 August. From 16 to 19 August, she visited Alexandria, Egypt and then got underway for Naples, Italy where she spent almost two weeks in upkeep. Leaving Naples on 6 September, Barnstable County and her colleagues conducted amphibious exercises at Plan de Spille, Italy, from 8 to 14 September. The task group then stopped at Toulon, France, where the ship underwent a restricted availability between 17 and 29 September. From there, she proceeded to Asinara Bay for amphibious exercises on 30 September and 1 October. Two days of operations at Caronari, Sardinia, followed on 4 and 5 October, after which, the ship proceeded to Capo Teulado, Sardinia, where she took part in Exercise "Display Determination 80" between 7 and 9 October. The ship tied up in Barcelona, Spain, on the 10th but made an emergency departure early on the 12th to aid in earthquake relief in Algeria. En route, however, she received notification that her assistance was unnecessary and orders to alter course for Malaga, Spain, where her crew enjoyed two days of liberty on 15 and 16 October. Leaving Malaga on the 17th, she moored in Rota on the 18th, completed turnover procedures with MARG 3-80, and set out to return home on 22 October. Traveling once again by way of the West Indies, Barnstable County conducted gunnery exercises near Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico on 2 November before heading through the Old Bahama Channel and then north along the east coast. She moored at Morehead City on 8 November, disembarked troops, and resumed her passage home. The ship moored in Little Creek on 9 November and spent the remainder of the year in a leave and upkeep period.
On 7 January 1981, Barnstable County began five days of local operations with a three-ship Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). After two days of formation maneuvers with Guam (LPH-9) and Austin (LPD-4), the ships loaded 12 LVTs at Little Creek in preparation for an afternoon rehearsal assault at Camp Pendleton. She returned to her berth at Little Creek on 12 January and spent the next three weeks preparing for a North Atlantic deployment.
Underway on 4 February 1981, Barnstable County’s ARG proceeded south to Morehead City, N.C., where the ships spent three days embarking marines, and loading vehicles and supplies. Late on the 7th, the ARG put to sea and sailed east across the North Atlantic. Eleven days later, after a stormy passage, the LST moored at Portsmouth, England. The tank landing ship received repairs to her damaged bow ramp before departing Portsmouth on 21 February and sailing north for a NATO exercise off Norway.
After landing troops and LVTs at Sorresia, the ARG sailed to Trondheim for a week of liberty while the marines toiled ashore. Returning to Sorresia on 9 March 1981, the LST beached, re-embarked the tired marines and back loaded their equipment. The ARG then put to sea for a week of “war-at-sea” exercises with British and Norwegian forces. On 17 and 18 March, Barnstable County’s embarked marines carried out five beach landings at Ballsfjorden. At the same time, her Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) detachment conducted beach surveys in Malagen Fjord. Following a brief two-day visit to Tromso starting on the 20th, the ARG got underway for more war-at-sea exercises. During these maneuvers, the ships reached their northern most point--just above 72 degrees latitude. The ARG conducted its last exercise in Malagen Fjord upon their return south, withdrawing from the beach there on 27 March. Stopping at Narvik the next day, Barnstable County refueled and loaded passengers before sailing south to Spain. Arriving in Rota on 4 April, the LST spent five days in port there before sailing for home. Marines and equipment were unloaded at Morehead City on the 17th and the tank landing ship returned home to Norfolk the next day.
Barnstable County’s crew did not receive much rest, however, as the ship was quickly put back in shape for Exercise Solid Shield 81. Departing Norfolk on 1 May 1981, the tank landing ship joined 11 other amphibious ships for two weeks of landing exercises at Camp Pendleton, Va., and in Onslow Beach, N.C. The ship returned home on the 14th, mooring pierside at Little Creek that morning. Other than a few day trips--for degaussing or work-up seamanship training--the LST spent the next nine weeks in port.
On 20 July 1981, Barnstable County joined Saipan (LHA-2) and Raleigh (LPD-1) for work-up exercises for another European deployment. Over the next 12 days, the ships conducted gunnery practice at Bloodsworth Island, a night “raid” by ship forces on Patuxent River Naval Air Station, seamanship exercises and rehearsal assaults at Camp Lejuene, N.C. The ships returned home in early August and began preparations to sail east.
Proceeding to Morehead City on 3 September 1981, the Marine Amphibious Readiness Group (MARG) loaded troops and equipment there before heading for Rota on the 5th. After refueling from Kalamazoo (AOR-6) on the 11th, the MARG spent the next week participating in Exercise Ocean Venture, a war-at-sea exercise with the Spanish Navy off western Africa. The fast pace continued after the ships anchored at Rota on the 19th, with stores received by helicopter so that Barnstable County could participate in Exercise Display Determination. Sailing for Cape Tuelado, Sardinia, the LST participated in a beach assault there on 26 September. After back loading troops and equipment, Barnstable County continued east and moored in Naples, Italy, on the 28th. She remained there for five days before moving on to Souda Bay, where she anchored on 5 October. The tank landing ship was there, along with the rest of the MARG, when the news arrived of the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Sailing for Egypt late on 6 October, the MARG spent the next 12 days on station about 100 miles off the Egyptian coast. The LST stood down from contingency operations on 18 October and sailed for Spain, arriving at Alicante four days later. Following a short liberty period, Barnstable County participated in an amphibious landing exercise at Garrucha, Spain, at the end of the month.
The pace did not slacken for the LST in November 1981, as the ship sailed back east to Greece on the 3d. Arriving in Athens on the 10th, she entered the Skaramangas Ship Repair Facility for six days of maintenance. Upon completion, Barnstable County proceeded southeast, passed through the Suez Canal on the 20th, and reached Hodeidah, Yemen, four days later. There, the ship’s company spent four grueling days repairing Yemeni Navy gunboats. Joining the rest of the MARG on the 28th, the ships proceeded into the Gulf of Aden for a landing exercise on the Omani coast. With this maneuver complete, the ships turned west and sailed back through the Red Sea. Departing Port Suez on 13 December, the ships transited the canal and proceeded to Spain, arriving in Barcelona on 23 December.
Departing that port on 4 January 1982, Barnstable County proceeded to Marseille, France, for an availability and port visit. The LST then put to sea on the 18th for exercises in the western Mediterranean. Although the practice amphibious landings in Tunisia were canceled due to poor weather, the MARG did participate in PHIBLEX 1-82 until putting into Valencia, Spain, at the end of the month. Moving to Rota a week later, the ship underwent an agricultural washdown before steaming for home on 10 February. Following a stop at Morehead City to unload troops and equipment, the LST reached Little Creek on the 24th.
Over the next nine weeks, Barnstable County prepared for Exercise Smokey Topaz, an individual ship operation in the North Atlantic. After loading cryptologic equipment, the LST sailed north on 7 May 1982, arriving in Glasgow, Scotland, to refuel on the 18th. Five days later, the tank landing ship crossed the Arctic Circle and, after rounding the North Cape on 25 May, arrived on station off Kilden Island later that day. Barnstable County conducted surveillance operations on Soviet naval units for the next five weeks, observing numerous Soviet attack and ballistic missile submarines as well as surface navy units. After putting in to Tromso, Norway, to refuel on 1 July, she continued south for two four-day stops at Bremerhaven, Germany, and then London, England. Departing the latter port on 15 July, the LST sailed west and arrived at Little Creek on the 24th.
Barnstable County began preparations for an overhaul soon after arrival and put in to the Norfolk Drydock and Shipbuilding Co. on 16 August 1982. She remained there through February 1983 before returning to Little Creek on 7 March. The LST then spent the next two months conducting inspections and preparing for a refresher training cruise to the West Indies. Underway on 12 May, the ship sailed south for three weeks of exercises out of Guantanamo Bay. Returning north in mid-June, the LST spent the next six weeks conducting amphibious training in the Virginia Capes and at Onslow Bay. While there, Barnstable County responded on 3 August to a request from the Coast Guard for law enforcement support. Sailing east that morning, the LST took up a position 180 miles southeast of Onslow Bay and embarked a three-man Coast Guard team via helicopter. The team, embarked in one of Barnstable County’s LCVP, intercepted the Panamanian-registry T Grit and discovered a large quantity of marijuana hidden in the smuggler. The T Grit was then seized and sent into port that afternoon. Returning to Onslow Bay that same day, the LST spent three more days training with USMC units before sailing home to Little Creek on 6 August.
The ship then focused on preparing for an overseas deployment by conducting training operations at Onslow Bay with Guam, Trenton (LPD-15), Fort Snelling (LPD-30) and Manitowoc (LST-1180). Following these maneuvers, the five ships combined into MARG 1-84 and moved to Morehead City to load troops and equipment on 18 October 1983. After embarking elements of 22d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU), Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/8, the ships got underway the next day for the Mediterranean. The Atlantic transit was interrupted, however, when the MARG was ordered south to Grenada on 21 October.
Two days earlier, a Cuban-supported coup by radical Marxists had taken place on Grenada, putting American medical students at risk on the island. Arriving in the vicinity on the night of 24 October 1983, Barnstable County supported Guam as that warship launched a helicopter assault the next morning. Over the next week, the tank landing ship landed marines at Port St. Georges via LCU and provided support to forces ashore in northern Grenada and Carricou Island.
By 2 November 1983, BLT 2/8 was loaded back on board Barnstable County and the MARG resumed their voyage to the Mediterranean, where the marines were intended to support the multi-national peacekeeping force in Beirut. The transit proved routine and the ships arrived on station off that city on 17 November. Troops were disembarked and equipment unloaded over the next two days and the LST spent the next four weeks providing logistical support to the units ashore. Four days before Christmas, the ship sailed west to Izmir, Turkey, where the crew received five days of liberty over the holidays. The ship returned to Beirut on the 30th.
After two weeks on station, the tank landing ship proceeded to Haifa, Israel, on 14 January 1984. There, she moored alongside the destroyer tender Puget Sound (AD-38) for a five-day intermediate availability. Returning to the Beirut area on the 20th, the LST began preparations to evacuate American embassy staff and dependents in light of the collapse of Lebanese government authority. Beginning on 7 February, military and civilian personnel from the embassy were withdrawn over the beach to the ships offshore. Barnstable County then delivered personnel and equipment to Haifa on the 16th. Returning to Beirut shortly thereafter, the LST helped evacuate the USMC forces from that city on 25 February. Aside from a short visit to Haifa in late march, the MARG remained off Beirut for another six weeks. Relieved by MARG 2-84 on 9 April, Barnstable County and the other amphibious ships turned for home, arriving at Little Creek on 2 May.
Following a post-deployment leave and stand down period, the LST spent the summer months conducting maintenance and local operations. On 11 September 1984, Barnstable County and the rest of the ships at Little Creek conducted an emergency sortie owing to an approaching hurricane. The LST then commenced various engineering and amphibious training evolutions, including a beach exercise on 4 October, loading drills on 16 October, and an ASW exercise off Cherry Point between 13 and 19 November. Later that month, the tank landing ship received an unsatisfactory grade on her engineering inspection before a holiday stand down period.
With a reexamination scheduled for late February 1985, Barnstable County spent the first seven weeks of the year repairing the engineering plant and conducting basic engineering casualty control exercises. While underway on 27 January, the LST responded to a distress call, and provided assistance to a crippled fishing boat until the Coast Guard arrived on scene. On 28 February, the ship began a second engineering exam but again failed to complete the process.
The LST returned to Little Creek on 1 March 1985 and commenced an extended availability to repair equipment and conduct engineering training. Exam preparations continued into May and the ship passed inspection on the 14th. Barnstable County then rendezvoused with four other amphibious ships for three days of MARG 2-85 workups. Between 20 and 29 May, the LST conducted amphibious landing rehearsals in Onslow Bay before commencing a pre-deployment leave and upkeep period.
Departing Little Creek on 2 July 1985, the LST loaded elements of the 22d MAU at Morehead City the next day and sailed for Spain that evening. After a short stop in Rota on 13 July, the ship sailed east for contingency operations off Lebanon. On 30 July, Barnstable County sailed south to participate in Exercise Bright Star, a joint U.S.-Egyptian amphibious exercise. In mid-August, the LST, in company with Iwo Jima (LPH-2), sailed west to Sicily for a port visit in Taormina starting on the 20th.
Following a short repair availability at Naples, the LST rendezvoused with the other MARG units and, on 13 September 1985, commenced Exercise Display Determination 85, a joint U.S.-Italian NATO exercise off Sardinia. During the amphibious assault phase of the exercise on the 16th, Barnstable County suffered a fire in one of her auxiliary boilers. Fire fighting teams extinguished the blaze relatively quickly and the LST returned to her duties just in time to conduct search and rescue operations following the crash of an AH-1 Cobra helicopter. Assisted by the destroyer Caron (DD-970), boat teams rescued one of the two pilots and collected wreckage. After completing the exercise, the tank landing ship proceeded to Naples to repair fire damage, arriving there on 23 September.
Upon completion of repairs on 19 October 1985, Barnstable County transited east for contingency operations with Iwo Jima in the eastern Mediterranean. The LST then made a four-day port visit to Catania, Sicily, followed by a week in Palma de Mallorca, before sailing for home on 1 December. The ship conducted turnover at Rota on the 6th, departed for home that same day and arrived in Little Creek on 20 December, five days before Christmas.
After spending January 1986 in leave and upkeep status, the LST began a series of service and maintenance inspections in February, checks punctuated with type training exercises in local waters. The ship went further afield in April and July, sailing south to Onslow Bay for a week of amphibious exercises on both occasions. On 7 August, the LST entered the Metro Machine Corporation Yard in Norfolk for a drydock maintenance availability. The ship remained there until 15 December, when she moved back to Little Creek for an additional upkeep period.
Barnstable County got underway for refresher training off Cuba on 13 February 1987, loaded an engineering support battalion at Morehead City the next day, and reached Guantanamo Bay on the 21. During the transit, the LST also supported boat inspections by an embarked USCG Law Enforcement Detachment (LED). Completing the refresher training in late March, the ship visited both St. Thomas and Miami, Fla., before returning to Little Creek on 4 April. The crew then prepared for a major south Atlantic training cruise, scheduled for the summer.
Departing Little Creek on 10 June 1987, Barnstable County began a series of goodwill visits to West African ports, starting with Praia in the Cape Verde Islands, and then stopping in Dakar, Senegal; Banjul, Gambia; Bissau, Guinea-Bissau; Conakry, Guinea; Freetown, Sierra Leone; and Monrovia, Liberia. During these visits, the crew made courtesy visits with local officials, delivered Project Handclasp aid materials--including medical equipment--and helped repair equipment and facilities, including the radar in the Gambian patrol craft Jatto. The ship then sailed to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, to prepare for her next mission--participation in UNITAS XXVIII, a series of joint operations with South American navies.
Putting to sea on 28 July 1987, Barnstable County conducted an underway launch of landing craft at Vieques Island with the Venezuelan Navy before turning south toward Barbados. On 2 August, a sailor fell overboard but was rescued in 10 minutes by the small boat detachment -- thus proving the efficacy of man overboard drills. Following a short stop at Bridgetown, Barbados, the LST continued south to Brazil, visiting Recife and Salvador before stopping in Rio de Janeiro on 25 August. The tank landing ship then conducted a three-day amphibious exercise with Brazilian marines on Marambaia Island.
Enroute to Uruguay on 7 September 1987, Barnstable County conducted operations with both Brazilian and Uruguayan ships before arriving at Montevideo on the 13th. After a two-day visit, the LST continued south, transited the Straits of Magellan, and arrived at Talcahuano, Chile, on 29 September. Owing to damage caused by heavy seas off Argentina, the tank landing ship moved to Asmar Shipyard there for almost two weeks of voyage repairs. Underway again on 10 October, the Barnstable County visited Valparaiso, Chile; Ancon, Peru; and Manta, Ecuador during her voyage north to the equator. She also conducted amphibious operations with Chilean, Peruvian and Ecuadorian forces while en route. After crossing the equator on 12 November, the LST sailed north to Panama, transiting the canal on the 17th, and conducting a final exercise with the Colombian Navy two days later. The ship returned to Little Creek after this long deployment on 29 November.
Following a two-month leave and upkeep period, the LST moved to Metro Machine Corp. yard in Norfolk on 29 January 1988 for a four-month maintenance availability. With repairs complete on 6 June, the amphibious ship spent the next three weeks preparing for refresher training in the West Indies. Sailing south on 28 June, Barnstable County shaped course for Jamaica, arriving in Kingston on 3 July. There, the crew celebrated Independence Day with a reception on the flight deck for the diplomatic community. Underway on the 5th, the ship continued south, arriving at Guantanamo Bay the next day, and conducted interim refresher training there until 3 August. The LST then returned home to Little Creek, mooring there on the 6th.
In early October 1988, after training and engineering inspections, Barnstable County again headed south on the 7th, this time for the Pacific Ocean. She briefly stopped for a port visit in Puerto Cortez, Honduras, before transiting the Panama Canal on 18 October. The ship then carried out special operations in the Pacific until 10 November when she put into Rodman, Panama. The LST re-transited the Panama Canal on 14 November and, after a short visit to Cartagena, Colombia, returned to Little Creek on 23 November.
In early 1989, Barnstable County began preparations for a Mediterranean deployment. These included several inspections, another repair period at Metro Machine and a MARG workup in late April. After loading troops and vehicles at Morehead City on 30 May, the LST sailed for the Mediterranean the following day. Arriving at Rota following an uneventful passage, the MARG inchopped to the Sixth Fleet on 17 June.
The LST put to sea the next day, for a week-long exercise at Sierra de Retin, following which the ship anchored at Villefranche, France, for a port visit on 30 June. Barnstable County continued east on 6 July, transiting the Straits of Messina on the 8th and mooring at Haifa, Israel, on the 11th. She then moved southwest on 28 July, for a three-day port visit to Alexandria, Egypt. The LST then sailed west and moored at Naples on 6 September to prepare for Exercise Display Determination. During that NATO operation, Barnstable County conducted an amphibious exercise with Italian LSTs at Capo Teulado, Sardinia, between 13 and 18 September. Later in the month, the LST joined Turkish warships for a transit exercise to Saros Bay, Turkey, where she anchored on the 26th. The tank landing ship sailed west on 5 October, transited the Straits of Gibraltar on the 9 and moored at Rota the next day to unload vehicles. She then joined Nassau and Shreveport for the move to Lisbon, Portugal, mooring there on 11 October for voyage repairs in the Lisnave Shipyard. The next day, a liberty party had an incident ashore that led to the beating and arrest of several sailors and marines by Portuguese police. The crew members were quickly released, however, and the U.S. Government received an official apology for the incident. Departing Lisbon on 20 October, Barnstable County carried out one last exercise--that time with Spanish LSTs L-111 and L-112 -- at Galera before sailing for home on 28 October. After dropping off her embarked marines on 9 November, the ship moored at Little Creek the next day.
Following a long leave and upkeep period, Barnstable County sailed north to Newport, R.I., on 8 January 1990. She remained there for three days as a school ship before embarking a construction battalion of marines for transport south to Honduras. Underway on the 16th, the LST proceeded to Puerto Cortes, unloaded the detachment, and returned to Lynnhaven anchorage on 5 February. After this cruise the ship underwent another leave and upkeep period, both for voyage repairs and in preparation for an upcoming fleet exercise. That evolution, called Exercise Ocean Venture 90, took place between 23 April and 18 May.
Upon her return to Little Creek, Barnstable County began preparations for a West Africa Training Cruise. A unique aspect of this voyage proved to be the embarkation of seven naval officers from countries in the region. They had received training in the United States and traveled back to their respective countries in the LST. The ship departed Little Creek on 5 July 1990 and made port visits in Cape Verde, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Guinea by the end of the month. She then visited Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Ghana before turning for home on 15 August. While in West Africa, the ship participated in Project Handclasp, donating supplies to local organizations and making diplomatic calls in every port visited.
On 16 August, after having just departed Tema, Ghana, Barnstable County was diverted to Liberia for a contingency Operation Sharp Edge. Threatened by the disintegration of authority in Monrovia during the escalating Liberian civil war, the American embassy had called for the protection and then evacuation of Americans from the embassy. Joined by the new dock landing ship Whidbey Island (LSD-41), Barnstable County cruised off Monrovia after landing marines to augment the embassy security force. Over the next two months, the ship made numerous stops in Freetown as the ship embarked, processed and transported a total of 514 non-combatant evacuees to safety. Detached from contingency operations on 3 November, the LST finally sailed for home, arriving in Little Creek on the 16th.
Barnstable County entered the Norfolk Shipping Co. Shipyard on 7 January 1991. After receiving various repairs and equipment upgrades, the tank landing ship began sea trials starting on 20 May. Inspections, maintenance surveys and crew training continued until 1 July when the ship got underway for a combination UNITAS and West African Training Cruise. Arriving at Roosevelt Roads on the 6th, the LST joined Peruvian and Venezuelan ships for an amphibious exercise off Puerto Rico between 11 and 16 July. She then sailed into Colombian waters for additional exercises.
Departing Cartagena on 25 July 1991, Barnstable County transited the Panama Canal on 1 August and put into Rodman, Panama. There, she began final preparations for her cruise around South America. Underway 5 August, the LST conducted flight operations with Colombian Army helicopters before making stops at Malaga, Columbia, and Manta, Ecuador. Continuing the pattern of exercises with regional navies at sea, followed by port visits to their respective countries, Barnstable County visited Valdivia, Ecuador; Callao, Peru; and Coquimbo, Valparaiso and Talcahuano, Chile; mooring in the latter port on 22 September. After receiving voyage repairs at Talcahuano, the ship made a final stop at Quemchi, Chile, before transiting the Straits of Magellan on 3 October. Barnstable County then stopped at Puerto Belgrano, Argentina, before conducting amphibious warfare exercises with Argentine marines. Following stops at Baliza Chica and Buenos Aires, visiting the latter Argentine port between 15 and 19 October, the LST completed her participation in UNITAS with stops at Montevideo, Uruguay, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the end of the month. Departing Rio de Janeiro on 4 November, Barnstable County sailed east across the Atlantic and arrived at Pointe Noire, Congo, on the 15th. Like her previous visits in the region, the LST carried out diplomatic visits, Project Handclasp presentations, and instructional symposiums for regional naval officers. Moving north on 18 November, the LST made stops at Libreville, Gabon; Saõ Tome, Saõ Tome; Malabo, Equatorial Guinea; before ending the month at Cotonou, Benin. With her cruise complete, the ship sailed for home on 3 December, arriving in Little Creek on the 18th.
Like the previous winter, the LST entered the Norfolk Shipping Co. yard to receive voyage repairs and equipment upgrades. The ship remained there from 11 February to 5 May 1992, and followed the yard period with seven weeks of inspections, sea trials and individual ship training. On 1 July 1992, Barnstable County sailed north for a port visit to Greenport, N.Y., and Everett, Massachusetts; the latter city being within Barnstable County, the LSTs namesake. After returning to Little Creek on 17 July, the ship spent the rest of the year carrying out engineering inspections, combat systems training, and deck evolutions. These included two amphibious exercises; an assault vehicle training period in Onslow Bay in mid-August and a three-ship exercise with Wasp (LHD-1) and El Paso (LKA-117) in early December. The latter was the initial workup for an upcoming deployment to Somalia.
Following a short training cruise to Puerto Rico between 19 January and 11 February 1993, Barnstable County conducted last minute readiness reviews before putting to sea on 23 February. In company with Wasp, El Paso and Nashville (LPD-13), the ship embarked elements of the 24th MEU and headed across the Atlantic on 24 February. After an uneventful crossing, the ships passed through the Strait of Gibraltar on 8 March, sailed east to Egypt, transited the Suez Canal on the 15th, and arrived off Mogadishu on 23 March. Once there, the amphibious ships joined other American forces in the region, which were attempting to protect humanitarian relief operations in Somalia from local warlords and bandits. On 25 March, the four ships moved south to Kismaayo, Somalia, where marines had landed earlier to protect humanitarian efforts around that port city. While on station there, Barnstable County earned the nickname “The Somali Coast Guard,” for the number of rescue operations she carried out. On 27 March, the LST towed a stricken cargo ship to safety and repaired both the vessel’s hull and engine damage. A little over two weeks later, on 14 April, the amphibious ship’s boarding party saved another cargo ship--that time a small sailing ship--in need of rudder repairs.
Detached on 28 April 1993, Barnstable County sailed north to the Persian Gulf, mooring at Dubai on 2 May. After a four-day port visit, the ship rendezvoused with Wasp, El Paso and Nashville off Bahrain and sailed northwest to Kuwait. There, on 9 May, the LST participated in Operation Nautical Mantis, a three-day training exercise with Saudi forces. Following a week long tender availability alongside the destroyer tender Cape Cod (AD-43) later in the month, Barnstable County again returned to Kuwait, this time for Operation Eager Mace, a combined British-Kuwaiti amphibious exercise held in early June.
On 10 June, 1993, however, Barnstable County received orders to immediately sail back to Mogadishu. American forces in that country had been drawn into heavy fighting and the situation had deteriorated rapidly. After loading marines, the LST cruised south, arriving off Somalia on the 19th. There, she took station as a quick reaction force in case the situation ashore grew any worse. Two weeks later, the ship moved north to Boosaaso, Somalia, and supported humanitarian efforts there between 5 and 9 July. On the latter date, Barnstable County departed Somalia--along with all the other units--as the American intervention in Somalia came to an end. She transited the Suez Canal on 15 July and, after port visits to Rhodes, Greece, and Benidorm, Spain, moored at Rota for turnover. She departed Spain on 6 August, dropped the marines off at Morehead City on the 18th, and finally returned home to Little Creek on 20 August. The tank landing ship spent the remainder of the year either in a leave and upkeep period or conducting limited type training operations.
Following a series of inspections that winter, the crew received notice of the ship’s planned decommissioning and transfer to Spain in 1993. Although the tank landing ship began turnover procedures on 8 February 1994--with the visit of Spanish Navy representatives to the ship--she carried out one final cruise starting on 5 April, when the LST escorted salvage ships Recovery (ARS-53) and Grapple (ARS-43) as they towed two decommissioned submarines south to the Panama Canal. Detached on 18 April, the LST visited Key West before returning to Little Creek for the last time on the 29th.
After the last Spanish crew members arrived on 3 June 1994, Barnstable County was decommissioned at Little Creek on 29 June 1994 and transferred to Spain that same day. The tank landing ship entered service in the Spanish Navy as Pizarro (L.42) on 14 April 1995.