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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Natrona

 

A county in Wyoming.

 

(APA–214: dp. 6,873; l. 455’; b. 62’; dr. 28’1”; s. 17 k.; cpl. 536; a. 1 5”, 12 40mm.; cl. Haskell; T. VC2–S–AP5)

 

Natrona (APA–211), was laid down as MC hull 562 tinder Maritime Commission contract 30 June 1944 by the Permanente Metals Corp., Richmond, California; launched 27 September 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Anna Louise Spigler; acquired and commissioned by the Navy 8 November 1944, Capt. Eric E. Winquist in command.

 

Following shakedown off Southern California, Natrona sailed for Hawaii, 3 January 1945, as a unit of Transport Squadron 17. At Pearl Harbor she debarked marines; loaded men and equipment of the 806th Engineering Battalion; and continued her westward passage on the 16th. By 1 February she reached Saipan, debarked her passengers and cargo, and sailed to Ulithi. There she took on marine night fighters and sailed for Leyte to prepare for operation “Iceberg,” the invasion of the Ryukyus.

 

On 21 March, Natrona, with marine night fighters and 77th Infantry Division men and equipment on board, departed Dulag in TG 51.1. Early on the 26th she arrived off Kerama Retto and proceeded to area “Jig.” At 0539 she lowered away nine wave guide boats, then moved to “Transport Area Fox” where at 0705 she had her first experience with Japanese kamikazes. After that air attack she moved to “Inner Transport Area George” to commence discharging her cargo of fuel and ammunition into small craft. At 1951 she proceeded to the night retirement area.

 

Until the 30th Natrona continued daylight replenishment of small craft in area “George,” with nightly retirements. On 1 April, Okinawa was invaded and on the 2nd the Kerama Retto anchorage was the scene of a 13 hour battle against suicide planes, swimmers and boats. On the 6th, the anchorage was subjected to its most severe kamikaze attack, during which Natrona bagged her first unassisted kill.

 

On the 7th, she completed unloading 77th Division cargo. The following day she crossed to the Hagushi Beach area of Okinawa to debark the Marine night fighters and then returned to Kerama Retto to transport the C.O., General Bruce, and staff of the 77th Division to the same location.

 

Between 14 April and 10 July, Natrona remained anchored at Kerama Retto, serving as station and receiving ship. She also acted as Fleet Post Office, headquarters for ComDesRon 2 and ComRepDesPac, Fleet Replacement Center, Fog Oil coordinator and distributor, and subsistence center for crews of damaged and sunken ships. On 10 July, the transport shifted to Buckner Bay and on the 15th departed for the U.S., a veteran of 16 weeks and 208 air attacks in Okinawan waters.

 

Natrona arrived San Francisco 5 August. Celebrating the end of the war there, she got underway again on the 20th on the first of two extended transpacific runs carrying replacement troops to forward areas, occupation troops to Japan, arid returning veterans to the United States. On 13 January 1946, she completed her second cruise at San Pedro. Moving to Mare Island, she underwent inactivation overhaul, and on 29 July decommissioned and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet at Stockton, California. She remained at Stockton until struck from the Navy List arid transferred to the Maritime Administration 1 October 1958. She has since remained berthed at Suisun Bay as a unit of the MARAD National Defense Reserve Fleet.

 

Natrona received one battle star for World War II service.