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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

New Kent

 

A County in Virginia.

 

I

 

(APA–217: dp. 7,190; l. 455’; b. 62’; dr. 24’; s. 18 k.; cpl. 536; a. 1 5”, 12 40mm; cl. Haskell)

 

The first New Kent (APA–217), an attack transport, was laid down under Maritime Commission contract 11 July 1944 by Permanente Metals Corp., Yard #2, Richmond, California; launched 12 October 1944; sponsored by Mrs. W. J. Maher; and commissioned 22 November 1944, Captain Frank Monroe, Jr., in command.

 

Following shakedown off the California coast, New Kent departed San Diego 20 January 1945, sailing by way of Pearl Harbor for the Marshall Islands with replacements for the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing. Arriving 4 February, the transport unloaded her cargo at Majuro and Kwajelein and then cleared 10 February for Guadalcanal for training in preparation for the invasion of Okinawa. The ship sailed for combat 15 March, arriving off the western beaches of Okinawa on the morning of D-Day, 1 April. Landing her troops that afternoon, New Kent sent a beach party ashore the next day and then remained in the transport area, subject to frequent enemy air attack, until departing for Guam 7 April, sailing thence to Pearl Harbor, arriving 23 April.

 

The attack transport remained in the Hawaiian Islands for one month and then sailed for the west coast 29 May, arriving Seattle 6 June. There the ship underwent overhaul until 26 June when she departed for Honolulu to bring 300 Japanese prisoners to the United States. Returning to San Francisco 11 July 1945, New Kent had her berthing compartments enlarged for more troops and then sailed on the 28th for Eniwetok and the Philippines to deliver cargo. At sea when Japan accepted surrender terms, the ship arrived San Pedro Bay, Leyte 17 August. She remained in the Philippines transporting Army troops to positions on Luzon until departing Lingayen Gulf 20 September with occupation troops for Wakayama, Japan. Arriving on the 25th, the ship completed unloading the next day and sailed for Subic Bay that afternoon, arriving 1 October. Following a second trip to Japan with occupation troops, 15 to 28 October, New Kent sailed to Manus, arriving 5 November, where she embarked 2000 passengers for her first “Magic Carpet” voyage, bringing the troops home to San Pedro, Calif. 19 November. The transport made a second voyage, to Guam from 5 to 21 December, and then greeted the New Year, 1946, at San Francisco.

 

Transiting the Panama Canal in mid-March, she arrived at Norfolk on the 20th and for the next year conducted amphibious training exercises along the East and Gulf coasts and in the Caribbean. Decommissioned 29 July 1949, she was berthed with the Orange, Texas Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet, until recommissioning 10 October 1951. Then reassigned to amphibious training duty, she resumed exercises along the shores of the western Atlantic.

 

With the exception of a voyage to Casablanca in July of 1952, New Kent continued her training operations until the Spring of 1954 when, again inactivated, she returned to Orange, Texas 12 July, where she remained until struck from the Navy List 1 October 1958.

 

New Kent earned 1 battle star during World War II.