Counties in Georgia and Michigan.
(APA 62: 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., 10 20 mm.; cl Gilliam; T. S4 SE2 BD1)
Berrien (APA 62) was laid down on 23 February 1944 at Wilmington, Calif., by the Consolidated Steel Corp. under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1855); launched on 20 May 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Jack Love; delivered to the Navy on 7 October 1944; and commissioned at San Pedro, Calif., on 8 October 1944, Lt. Comdr. John M. Gallagher, USNR, in command.
The attack transport began shakedown training on 19 October and completed it when she arrived in San Diego on 2 November. After post-shakedown availability, she departed San Diego on the 20th, loaded cargo at San Francisco, and got underway for the Hawaiian Islands on 25 November. Berrien remained in Hawaiian waters from the beginning of December 1944 until late in January 1945. After embarking Army and Marine Corps passengers, she stood out of Pearl Harbor on 27 January, bound for the western Pacific. The ship stopped at Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands from 5 to 7 February, then continued on to Saipan, in the Mariana Islands, where she arrived on the 12th.
Berrien departed Saipan that same day bound for the assault on Iwo Jima. En route, she conducted brief landing rehearsals at Tinian before arriving off Iwo Jima on D day, 19 February 1945. The ship disembarked her assault troops and, by 1130, began receiving casualties on board. For the next three weeks, Berrien made nightly retirements to a safe area some distance from the island and returned to the transport area during daylight to take on further casualties. On 4 March, the attack transport headed for Saipan where she arrived on the 7th.
Berrien remained in the Marianas preparing for the last campaign of the war--the invasion of Okinawa. On 27 March, she put to sea on her way to the Ryukyu Islands. Again, the ship arrived off the invasion beaches early on the morning of the initial assault, 1 April 1945. Berrien remained in the vicinity of the Ryukyus for about two weeks. During that time, her crew witnessed many air attacks--both conventional and kamikaze--on surrounding ships, but the attack transport herself appears never to have suffered enemy attack. Her only damage and casualties came on 15 April as the result of the explosion of a "friendly" 20 millimeter round on her navigation deck. Two sailors received wounds, and the ship suffered very minor damage. On the 16th, she shaped a course for the Marianas.
The attack transport arrived at Saipan on 20 April and conducted training operations until the first week in June. On the 4th, she departed Saipan bound for the Solomon Islands. She arrived at Tulagi on 14 June, but left again two days later for New Caledonia. Berrien loaded cargo at Noumea from 19 to 23 June and then shaped a course back to the Marianas. On 2 July, while en route to Guam, she rescued the crew of an Army B 24 bomber that crashed into the sea. She reached Guam soon thereafter and began embarking sailors and marines for transportation home. On 9 July, the ship headed for California. She entered San Francisco Bay on the 23d, disembarked her passengers, and, on the 26th, entered the yard at the Western Pipe & Steel Co. for repairs.
Berrien left the yard in mid August. On the 16th, the day after Japan's capitulation, she embarked Army occupation troops and set sail for the Philippines. While still en route, the ship received orders on 10 September changing her destination from Tacloban on Leyte to Manila on Luzon. She arrived at the latter port on 12 September. Berrien embarked additional troops at Manila before setting sail for Japan on 17 September. The attack transport arrived at Aomori Ko, Japan, on 25 September and began disembarking her passengers. Berrien remained in the Far East into December and reentered San Francisco on New Year's Day, 1946.
On 16 January, the attack transport stood out of San Francisco and shaped a course for the western Pacific. She arrived in Shanghai, China, on 3 February. There, she exchanged one complement of passengers for another group headed home to the United States. Between 10 and 13 February, Berrien shifted from Shanghai to Yokosuka, Japan, where she embarked additional servicemen for transportation back to the United States. On 21 February, she shaped a course for the west coast of North America. The attack transport steamed into San Francisco Bay on 6 March. Berrien left San Francisco on 28 March and arrived in Pearl Harbor sometime early in April.
After inactivation preparations, she was decommissioned at Pearl Harbor on 17 May 1946. In the spring of 1947, she was towed back to San Francisco for transfer to the Maritime Commission. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 1 August 1947, and she was turned over to the Maritime Commission on 12 August 1947. She was laid up with the National Defense Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay, Calif., until sometime in 1965 or 1966 when she was sold to Zidell Explorations, Portland, Oreg., for scrapping.
Berrien earned two battle stars during World War II.
Raymond A. Mann
15 February 2006