A former name retained. James Knox Polk, born in Mecklenburg County, N.C., 2 November 1795, served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1825–39), was Speaker of the House (1835–39), and Governor of Tennessee (1839–41) before becoming the eleventh President of the United States 4 March 1845. During his administration the Oregon boundary dispute was settled with Great Britain, tariff was lowered, and the United States acquired the southwestern part of the country from Mexico. Shortly after the end of his one term as president, Polk died in retirement 15 June 1849 at his home in Nashville, Tenn.
(AP–103: dp. 11,760; l. 491’10”; b. 63’0”; dr. 25’9”; s. 18 k.; cpl. 354; a. 1 5”, 4 3” 4 40mm.; cl. Elizabeth C. Stanton; T. C3–P&C)
President Polk (AP–103) was laid down by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News, Va. as President Polk (MC hull 110) 7 October 1940; launched 28 June 1941; sponsored by Miss Patricia Kennedy; acquired by the Navy 6 September 1943; and commissioned at San Diego 4 October 1943 1 Comdr. Clarence J. Ballreich in command.
Assigned to the Naval Transportation Service, President Polk loaded construction battalion men and cargo at Port Hueneme, Calif., and sailed 12 October for Pearl Harbor. On 16 November she got underway for the invasion of Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, where she unloaded her troops and cargo and then stood by as casualty receiving ship. Returning to Pearl Harbor 11 December, she weighed anchor again 22 January 1944 to carry troops to Kwajalein in the Marshalls. Again used as an emergency hospital ship, she carried casualties to San Francisco, 24 February, then got underway with troops and cargo for New Caledonia, the Solomons, and the Admiralties.
In July she carried reinforcements to Guam and again sailed east with wounded personnel, arriving at Pearl Harbor 11 August and continuing on to California where she took on personnel and cargo for New Guinea. Arriving at Milne Bay 6 November, she loaded passengers and cargo, then proceeded to Bougainville to prepare for the invasion of Luzon. Disembarking troops on the Lingayen assault beaches, 11 January 1945, she ferried reinforcements from Leyte, then sailed to Ulithi to take on Marines at Iwo Jima and return them to Hawaii. Thence she steamed to San Francisco, took on fresh troops, and headed west to Okinawa 24 July. V–J Day found her in Apra Harbor, Guam, whence she returned to San Francisco. Next she transported troops from Seattle to Tinian, reported for “Magic Carpet” duty, 13 October, and completed runs from Espiritu Santo and Manila to San Francisco before the end of the year.
Decommissioned and transferred to WSA, for return to her owner 26 January 1946, President Polk was struck from the Navy List 25 February 1946.
President Polk earned 6 battle stars for World War II service.