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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Traverse County

 

A county in western Minnesota.

 

(LST-1160: dp. 5,777 (f.); 1. 384'; b. 56'6"; dr. 17'; s. 14.5 k.; cpl. 600; a. 6 4"; cl. LST-1156)

 

LST-1160 was laid down on 18 December 1952 at Bath, Maine, by the Bath Iron Works Corp.; launched on 3 October 1953; sponsored by Mrs. Omar R. King; and commissioned on 19 December 1953, Lt. Comdr. James W. Perkins in command.

 

Late in January 1954, the tank landing ship moved, from Boston—where she had completed outfitting—to the Naval Amphibious Base at Little Creek, Va. On 26 March, after seven weeks of shakedown training in the Virginia capes operating area and three weeks of post-shakedown availability, LST-1160 became an active unit of the Atlantic Fleet Amphibious Force. Between the spring of 1954 and the summer of 1955, the ship completed seven training exercises to sharpen her skill as an amphibious warfare ship. Those drills frequently took her south to the West Indies, most often to Vieques Island near Puerto Rico where embarked marines practiced amphibious landings. On 1 July 1955, LST-1160 was named Traverse County. Not long thereafter, she was awarded the Battle Efficiency "E" as the outstanding ship of LST Flotilla 4. Late in 1955, Traverse County entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for a four-month overhaul. The tank landing ship exited the shipyard in April 1956 and, following a month of refresher training, resumed operations out of Little Creek. The remainder of 1956 saw her periodically embarking marines at Morehead City, N.C., and putting them ashore at Little Creek and at nearby Camp Pendleton.

 

At the beginning of 1957, Traverse County completed preparations for her first deployment with the 6th Fleet. During the next 11 years, Traverse County performed eight tours of duty in the Mediterranean. Most often, her operations with the 6th Fleet included visits to ports in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and along the North African coast. She often conducted training exercises with units of friendly foreign navies. However, during her 1958 deployment, a crisis erupted in Lebanon at the far eastern end of the Mediterranean; and, in July, the LST joined other 6th Fleet units and Amphibious Squadron 6 LST's in landing marines at Beirut to help stabilize the situation. The remainder of her Mediterranean assignments proved to be more routine in nature.

 

When not attached to the 6th Fleet, Traverse County operated out of Little Creek, Va. Her western Atlantic duties frequently took her to the West Indies and the Caribbean where, in addition to the usual amphibious exercises, she performed supply missions to various American bases in the area under the auspices of the Commander, Service Force, Atlantic Fleet. Such was her assignment in the fall of 1962 when United States surveillance of Cuba uncovered the siting of offensive missiles on that island by the Russians. When the crisis occurred, President John F. Kennedy invoked a successful quarantine of Cuba to secure the removal of those weapons. During that operation, Traverse County provided support as a combat ready unit. However, the Soviet Union withdrew the missiles; and the tension abated enabling the LST to resume her normal routine early in 1963. She returned to supplying Caribbean bases and conducting amphibious exercises at Little Creek, Onslow Beach, N.C., and at Vieques Island near Puerto Rico.

 

The Cuban Missile Crisis proved to be her last internationally significant operation. After 1962, she resumed her routine, alternating Mediterranean deployments with east coast operations. She completed her eighth and last 6th Fleet assignment in December 1968. During 1969, she conducted another series of amphibious exercises at her old haunts—Little Creek, Onslow Beach, and Vieques. Similar operations carried her into 1970; but, on 7 March, she headed for the Panama Canal and a tour of special duty. After transporting the 8th Marine Engineering Battalion from Morehead City, N.C., to Vieques Island, she arrived at Colon, Canal Zone, on the 12th. She transited the canal and embarked scientists and equipment of the Smithsonian Institution for research operations in the vicinity of the Secas Islands of Panama. That duty lasted until 3 April when she returned to Rodman in the Canal Zone. Between the 3d and the 24th, the tank landing ship transported Army Reserve troops and their equipment between Rio Hato and Rodman and carried Operation "Handclasp" supplies to Guayaquil, Ecuador. On 27 April, she reembarked the Smithsonian scientists for another week of research operations. Upon her return to Rodman early in May, the ship entered the Panama Canal Company's Mt. Hope Shipyard for repairs. She exited the shipyard on 11 June, retransited the canal, and joined the Caribbean Amphibious Ready Group for a day before returning to Rodman for further orders. Late in June, she transported more Army reservists between Rio Hato and Rodman.

 

On 7 July, she headed back to the United States for inactivation. Traverse County reached Little Creek on the 15th. Later that fall, Traverse County was placed out of commission. Sometime thereafter, she was moved to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet berthing area at Orange, Tex. There she remained until 7 June 1972, at which time she was transferred to the Military Sealift Command. She served with that organization until 1 November 1973 when her name was struck from the Navy list. The ship was then transferred to the Maritime Administration and berthed with the National Defense Reserve Fleet group at Suisun Bay, Calif.