(APA-66: dp. 7,080; l. 426'; b. 58'; dr. 16'; s. 16.9 k.; cpl. 320; a. 1 5", 8 40mm.; cl. Gilliam; T. S4-SE2-BD1)
A county in south central South Dakota established on 14 January 1875 and named for the Brule subdivision of the Sioux Indians.
The first Brule (APA-66) was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1859) on 10 April 1944 at Wilmington, Calif., by the Consolidated Steel Co.; launched on 30 June 1944; sponsored by Miss Patricia Moreell, daughter of Vice Admiral Ben Moreell, Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks; acquired by the Navy and commissioned on 31 October 1944, Comdr. Edward Fluhr in command.
Following a brief shakedown period off the California coast, the attack transport prepared for deployment to the western Pacific. She left San Pedro on 26 November to join Transport Squadron 16 in Pearl Harbor. After two months of intense training in Hawaiian waters to prepare for the invasion of Iwo Jima, Brule departed Pearl Harbor on 27 January 1945, fully loaded, and headed for the Bonin Islands. Several days out of port, mechanical problems forced Brule back to Pearl Harbor where she transferred her load to another ship.
With repairs completed in March, the transport steamed westward and began ferrying troops between various island bases in the Bonins, the Marianas, the Marshalls, and the Solomons. In June, after short visits to Finschhafen and Hollandia in New Guinea, Brule steamed to Leyte Gulf to embark sailors returning to the United States. Brule moored in San Francisco on 18 July, disembarked her passengers, and underwent brief repairs. On 10 August, the attack transport left the United States carrying replacement troops for the Army garrison on Okinawa. Just five days later, news of the Japanese capitulation reached Brule; and, after discharging her troops at Okinawa on 9 September, the transport was assigned to the 7th Fleet for carrying occupation forces and supplies to Jinsen, Korea. Brule made two trips from Leyte to Korea in September and October.
In November, the transport became part of the "Magic Carpet" fleet, the collective nickname given those ships that had been tasked with returning veterans to the United States. Departing Jinsen on 10 November, Brule stopped at Tsingtao and Manila to embark over 1,000 passengers, entered Puget Sound on 8 December, and moored in Seattle, Wash. The attack transport enjoyed Christmas in the United States before returning to sea on 7 January 1946, bound for Japan on another "Magic Carpet" run. While in Yokosuka, Brule received orders assigning her to the target fleet for the postwar atomic bomb tests. After ferrying her last passengers to Pearl Harbor, the attack transport underwent stripping and modification in preparation for the test.
Known as Operation "Crossroads," the test consisted of two atmospheric nuclear explosions that were triggered at Bikini Atoll in July 1946. The test was rigged to study the effects of the atomic bomb on naval vessels at various distances from the point of detonation. Brule was used as one of the 84 target ships. She arrived in Bikini on 28 May and anchored to continue preparations for the detonations of 1 and 25 July. Brule survived the tests and was retained for studies of the radiological and structural effects of the atomic blast. She was decommissioned on 29 August 1946 and sunk as a target on 11 May 1948. Brule's name was struck from the Navy list on 28 May 1948.
Mary P. Walker
25 November 2005