(APA-93: dp. 11,760 (tl.); l. 492'0"; b. 69'6"; dr. 26'6" (lim.); s. 18.4 k. (tl.), cpl. 478; trp. 1,511; a. 2 5", 4 40mm., 18 20mm.; cl. Bayfield; T. CS S A2)
A county in southeastern Massachusetts, coterminous with Cape Cod.
Sea Snapper was laid down on 6 May 1943 at Los Angeles, Calif., by the Western Pipe and Steel Co. under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 282); launched on 5 August 1943; and sponsored by Miss Jean Watts; chosen by the Navy for conversion to an attack transport; renamed Barnstable (APA 93) on 30 August 1943; accepted and placed in commission on 30 October 1943 for the trip to the conversion yard; decommissioned at Portland, Oreg., on 3 November 1943; converted to an attack transport by the Commercial Iron Works; and commissioned there on 22 May 1944, Capt. Thomas M. Stokes in command.
Following shakedown, Barnstable conducted amphibious training exercises with elements of the Army's 96th Infantry Division off Coronado Strand, Calif., between 14 and 19 June and off San Diego between 20 and 30 June. Then, commencing 5 July, the attack transport conducted further operations of that nature off Pyramid Cove and Oceanside, Calif., with the men of the 2d Battalion, 26th Marines.
Following further training, Barnstable departed San Diego on 22 July in company with Arneb (AKA 56) to transport elements of the 27th Marines to Hawaii. She reached Pearl Harbor on the 30th, disembarked the Marines, and commenced loading men of the Army's 323d Infantry, 81st Division. Barnstable joined two other attack transports, a transport and an attack cargo ship to form Transport Division (TransDiv) 32, and the division sailed on 12 August for the Solomons.
After anchoring at Guadalcanal near the mouth of the Tenaru River on 24 August, Barnstable spent the next several days engaged in a variety of tasks, ranging from the usual general maintenance to taking part in a three day rehearsal for the upcoming operation. She conducted this training off Cape Esperance and then fueled and provisioned in the Tulagi area. On 8 September, the attack transport got underway for the Palaus with troops of a reserve corps for the assaults on Peleliu and Anguar embarked. Arriving off the objective on the morning of 15 September, Barnstable lingered offshore until afternoon when she shifted to the operating area off Namei Bay, Babelthuap Island, to conduct diversionary demonstration while escorting destroyers shelled the beach off Melekeiok Point. Two days later, Barnstable made another feint, this time on the northwest beach of Anguar.
After disembarking a battery of field artillery on 19 September, Barnstable set sail for Ulithi in the Western Carolines on the 21st. Her embarked troops, elements of the 2d Reinforced Battalion, 323d Infantry, hit the beach at 1016 on the morning of 23 September, but met no opposition. The ship completed her operations there by noon on the 25th and cleared Magai channel that evening, bound for New Guinea.
Reaching Hollandia, Barnstable hoisted on board three Army LCMs, and 15 LCVPs to replace the boats left at Ulithi and soon returned to sea on her way via Humboldt Bay, New Guinea, to Manus in the Admiralty Islands. There, the attack transport spent the first few days in October preparing for the assault on the Philippines. She embarked elements of the Army’s 5th Cavalry Division and conducted a landing rehearsal off Rambutyo Island on 9 October, before heading for the rendezvous with the Leyte invasion force on the 12th. As part of Group 8, Amphibious Force, 7th Fleet, Barnstable joined TG 78.1 on the 15th. Along the way, the attack transport experienced some anxious moments during the 2000 2400 watch on 19 October when a destroyer reported a torpedo heading for the transport. Almost miraculously, it crossed Barnstable’s bow from port to starboard and continued on harmlessly through the entire convoy. Barnstable arrived in Leyte Gulf on “A” Day, 20 October 1944, and anchored in San Pedro Bay, where she disembarked troops for the assault and then unloaded cargo throughout the day.
Leaving Leyte Gulf early on the morning of the 21st, Barnstable proceeded toward the Palaus and arrived at Kossel Passage on the 23d. She remained there for several days, embarking survivors from the escort carrier St. Lo (CVE-63), sunk in the Battle off Samar on 25 October, before setting out for Guam on the 28th. She stood into Apra Harbor on the 31st. Barnstable then embarked men of the Army's 77th Division and loaded cargo before sailing for New Caledonia on 3 November. Although the embarked troops started out for a rest and relaxation period at Noumea, orders came on the 11th changing the destination to Manus in the Admiralties. Arriving on the 15th, she began preparing for her next mission.
After picking up reinforcements, the attack transport arrived off Leyte's beachhead on Thanksgiving Day. By that time, the Japanese had introduced a new weapon, the kamikaze or suicide plane. Numerous "Red Alerts" interrupted the unloading, and one suicider crashed into SS Edwin Joseph O'Hara, about 1,000 yards off Barnstable's bow. When she finished disembarking troops and unloading, Barnstable cleared Leyte and headed to Hollandia where she underwent voyage repairs and received upkeep between 29 November and 12 December.
Shifting thence to Cape Sansapor, New Guinea, Barnstable embarked the U.S. Army’s 63d Infantry for the assault on the island of Luzon. At sea by New Year's Eve, the attack transport proceeded towards Lingayen Gulf, heading through the Surigao Strait, Mindanao Sea, Sulu Sea, Panay Gulf, Mindoro Strait, and the China Sea. Her task group endured several attacks by small groups of enemy planes that damaged other ships, but left Barnstable unscathed.
During the first day of the landings at Lingayen, 9 January 1945, Barnstable remained in the outer transport area while her boats assisted nearby ships in unloading. On the morning of the second day, the attack transport stood in to disembark her troops and to unload cargo. By the time she finished, very poor visibility kept her anchored for the night, and she did not get underway until the next evening. Then, standing out of Lingayen Gulf, the ship proceeded to Leyte Gulf where she arrived on 14 January 1945.
With the dissolution of her transport division, Barnstable got underway on the 18th and sailed to Manus. Proceeding thence to Maffin Bay, New Guinea, where she loaded provisions and took on fuel, before heading for Morotai. Barnstable arrived there on the 29th and embarked elements of the U.S. Army’s 33d Infantry Division and then rendezvoused with another task group for a resupply and reinforcement run to Lingayen. On 10 February, her troops disembarked, and then she unloaded her cargo before transporting Army casualties to Leyte Gulf.
Barnstable spent the next six weeks preparing for her last major amphibious operation. After embarking elements of the Army’s 7th Division, she cleared Leyte Gulf on 27 March and headed for the Ryukyus. At Okinawa on 1 April 1945, Barnstable’s own embarked troops were among the first to go ashore, for a change. After several days at Okinawa to unload cargo, Barnstable headed for Guam and entered Apra Harbor on 9 April.
Underway for the west coast of the United States the following day, Barnstable stopped briefly at Pearl Harbor before continuing on to California. Arriving at San Francisco on 30 April, Barnstable underwent voyage repairs at the General Engineering and Drydock Co., Alameda, Calif., until 14 May. Then, after embarking replacement troops and loading cargo, she sailed for the Marshall Islands on 24 May. Reaching Eniwetok on 7 June, the attack transport then pushed on toward Ulithi the same day, in company with Army transports Perida and Sea Corporal. She then proceeded in convoy toward Leyte, but received orders en route directing her to head for Manila instead. She arrived there on the evening of 16 June.
Over the next six weeks, Barnstable operated between the Philippines and New Guinea, making two voyages to Hollandia, with a stop at Finschhafen added on the second trip.
The end to hostilities with Japan found Barnstable anchored in Manila Bay. Between 20 September and 1 November, she made two voyages to Japan supporting the occupation. The first run was from Aringay, Lingayen Gulf, to Wakayama, Honshu, with the regimental headquarters and special units of the 136th Infantry and attached units of the Army's 33d Infantry Division. The second began at Talomo on Mindanao and ended at Hiro, where Barnstable disembarked the regimental headquarters and the 1st Battalion of the U.S.Army’s 21st Infantry.
The attack transport then made a one way voyage for the "Magic Carpet" fleet, returning servicemen home to the United States. Reaching the California coast on 17 November 1945, Barnstable operated locally until reporting to the Commander, Western Sea Frontier, on 9 January 1946 for disposition. Directed to proceed to the east coast, Barnstable arrived at Norfolk, Va., on 4 February 1946. After a round trip voyage to Boston and back on 8 March, she was decommissioned at Norfolk on 25 March 1946 and was turned over to the Maritime Commission's War Shipping Administration the same day. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 12 April 1946.
Sold on 18 April 1947 to the Isthmian Steamship Co., She was renamed Steel Fabricator, and operated under that name until the early 1970's. At that time, her American owner sold her to a Panamanian company, the Valor Navigation Co., and her name became Grand Valor. She operated as such until the mid 1970's when she disappeared from merchant registers.
Barnstable (APA 93) earned four battle stars for her World War II service.
Robert J. Cressman
7 March 2006