Saginaw (LST-1188) (q.v.) was named after a county and city in central Michigan. She was laid down on 24 May 1969 at San Diego, Calif., by the National Steel & Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 7 February 1970; sponsored by Mrs. James Harvey; and commissioned on 23 January 1971, Comdr. G. P. Brown in command.
Following her fitting out period, Saginaw was assigned to the Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet, with the home port of Little Creek, Va. Into 1980, the tank landing ship has alternated local amphibious training operations along the east coast of the United States and in the Caribbean with regular, sustained deployments to the Mediterranean.