LST-1161 was laid down on 14 April 1952 at Pascagoula, Miss., by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 25 November 1952; sponsored by Mrs. Hugh L. White; and commissioned on 18 May 1953, Lt. Comdr. D. E. Sutherlin in command.
Following shakedown training, LST-1161 was assigned to the Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet, for duty. On 1 July 1955, she was redesignated Vernon County (LST-1161) (q.v.) after a parish in Louisiana and counties in Missouri and Wisconsin. On 6 June 1958, Vernon County was assigned to the Pacific Fleet. Later homeported in Yokosuka, the tank landing ship performed extensive service in the Vietnam theater. Vernon County was decommissioned on 14 June 1973 and transferred to Venezuela that same month where she served in the Venezuelan Navy as Amazonas (T-21).
LST-1161 earned one Presidential Unit Citation, three Navy Unit Commendations, three Meritorious Unit Commendations, and 14 battle stars for her Vietnam service as Vernon County.
Vernon County (LST-1161) lands vehicles over a pontoon causeway. These causeways came into standard use during World War II for landings on beaches where the gradient was too shallow to permit direct beaching. All LST's are fitted to carry causeway sections mounted on their sides and can tow additional sections if needed. When, as seen here, a long distance has to be covered, a number of LST's join their causeway sections together and take turns unloading.