A county in central Virginia.
(APA-141: displacement 12,450; length 455'0"; beam 62'0"; draft 24'0"; speed 17.7 knots; complement 536; troops 1,561; armament 1 5-inch, 12 40 millimeter, 10 20 millimeter; class Haskell; type VC2-S-AP5)
Buckingham (APA-141) was laid down on 9 September 1944 under a Maritime Commission contract (M. C. V. Hull 57), at Wilmington, Calif., by the California Shipbuilding Corp. ; launched on 13 November 1944; sponsored by Mrs. S. J. Dickey; delivered to Pope & Talbot, Inc., under a general agency agreement on 2 December 1944; redelivered to the Maritime Commission at Vancouver, Wash., on 9 December 1944; towed to Vancouver, Wash., for completion by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Co.; transferred to the Navy on 23 January 1945; and commissioned that same day, Capt. Henry G. Moran in command.
The attack transport conducted shakedown training off San Pedro, Calif., in February 1945 and then sailed to San Diego, Calif., for amphibious training. She conducted numerous practice landings on beaches at Coronado, San Clemente, and Oceanside. Minor repairs of defects discovered during shakedown were corrected at Todd Shipyard in San Pedro. Buckingham then reported to the Commander, Western Sea Frontier, at San Francisco for her first assignment, transportation of a cargo of ammunition and explosives to Pearl Harbor.
After loading her cargo at Port Chicago, the attack transport departed San Francisco Bay on 3 April 1945 and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 10 April. She waited at anchor there for nearly a week before putting to sea with a training group to practice fleet cruising, ship handling, and amphibious landings at Maui. The ship returned to Pearl Harbor on the 28th, took on cargo, and embarked soldiers and marines for transportation to the Mariana Islands.
Buckingham sailed on 4 May 1945 in company with the attack transports Clinton (APA-144) and Pickaway (APA-222), the War Shipping Administration (WSA) troopship Sea Sturgeon and USAT Evangeline. The convoy stopped at Eniwetok on 12 May for sailing directions, and Clinton and Buckingham, escorted by Southard (DMS-10), journeyed on to Guam. After discharging passengers there, the attack transport steamed northward to Saipan. Once again passengers disembarked, and new passengers, bound for Pearl Harbor, came on board. On 25 May, Buckingham sailed for Eniwetok and Hawaii, and arrived in Pearl Harbor on 4 June. Three days later, with a smaller list of passengers, the attack transport headed for San Francisco.
When Buckingham departed the United States on 28 June 1945, she began a voyage that took her, via Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok, and Ulithi, to the Philippines and back to San Francisco, where she arrived on 17 August. News of the war's end reached the ship while she was at sea, but she still had one more job to do. She embarked troops and loaded cargo for Pearl Harbor, continued on to Saipan and, on 22 September, set course for Wakayama, Japan, carrying occupation forces, and put her troops and cargo on Japanese soil on 27 September.
The attack transport operated as part of the Magic Carpet fleet on her return trip to San Francisco, carrying home over 1,800 veterans. In November, Buckingham made one more trip to Japan carrying occupation troops. She discharged some of her passengers at Sasebo on 25 November 1945 and proceeded to Nagasaki to disembark the rest. After embarking more than 1,500 returning servicemen, Buckingham crossed the Pacific for the last time.
Scheduled for inactivation, Buckingham made the long voyage to Norfolk early in 1946. Decommissioned there on 1 March 1946, the ship was returned to the Maritime Commission on 5 March 1946, entering the Reserve Fleet berthing area at Lee Hall, Va., at 2:00 p.m. that day.
Stricken from the Navy list on 20 March 1946, the ship remained in the James River berthing area (except for 21 July - 15 September 1955 when she underwent repairs by Shepard Steamship Co.) until purchased by the Conslidated Steel Corp., Brownsville, Texas, on 23 January 1974. She was removed from the Reserve Fleet at 9:45 a.m. on 29 March 1974 to begin her voyage to the breakers.
Mary P. Walker and Robert J. Cressman
25 November 2005