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Crittenden (APA-77)


Named for counties in Arkansas and Kentucky.

(APA‑77: displacement 4,247; length 426'; beam 58'; draft 16'; speed 17 knots; complement 320; troop capacity 849; armament 1 5-inch, 8 40-millimeter, 10 20-millimeter; class Gilliam; type S4-SE2-BD1)

Crittenden (APA‑77) was laid down on 31 July 1944 at Wilmington Calif., by the Consolidated Steel Corp., under a Maritime Commission contract (M. C. Hull 1890); launched on 6 November 1944; sponsored by Mrs. William R. Boyd Jr., wife of the President of the War Council of the Petroleum Institute; transferred to the U.S. Navy on 16 January 1945; and commissioned on 17 January 1945 at San Pedro, Calif., Cmdr. Paul C. Crosley, USN, in command.

In the week following her commissioning, Crittenden’s crew loaded provisions and conducted training. On 20 January 1945, the attack transport underwent deperming and then two days later, on the 22nd, she got underway for Los Angeles Harbor, Calif., where she participated in pre-shakedown exercises.

On 23 January 1945, Crittenden got underway for the Naval Operating Base at Terminal Island, Calif., to have some minor alterations completed. Modification work and provisioning of the ship’s stores lasted through the 27th. On 28th, Crittenden was towed to anchorage D-8. A pre-shakedown inspection team came on board the following day and the vessel briefly got underway for area PP-15, in order to conduct some exercises. Later that day she anchored back at berth D-8 and then remained in Los Angeles Harbor through the end of the month.

Beginning on 1 February 1945, Crittenden started participating in daily drills at sea, including Battle Problems and Full Power Runs. On 5 February she got underway for an extended session of tactical drills and anti-aircraft firing. She later anchored back at Los Angeles Harbor on 8 February. On the 11th, Crittenden stood out from the area, and steamed singly to San Diego where she reported to the Commander Training Command Amphibious Forces Pacific for an inspection that lasted through 13 February.                                                                                                    

Crittenden got underway from San Diego on 14 February 1945, and shortly thereafter, anchored off Coronado Roads. She remained in the area through 22 February, steaming out to sea for daily tactical and gunnery drills. While at anchor in the evenings the attack transport also performed daily landing force drills using dummy cargo. From 14 to 27 February, she performed additional landing force drills in the vicinity of Oceanside, Calif.

With her shakedown finally complete on 28 February 1945, Crittenden steamed towards San Pedro. Later that evening she moored at Pier 198, Wilmington, and commenced an availability and overhaul period conducted by the Wilmington Welding and Boiler Works. The availability ended on 7 March but Crittenden then needed repair work done to her engineering plant, which kept her there until 12 March.

On 13 March 1945, Crittenden embarked 33 Navy officers, 550 enlisted men, 122 marines, 3.8 tons of cargo and 164 bags of mail. With all of her passengers and cargo on board by the early afternoon, Crittenden then stood out of San Diego on her first major voyage and shaped a course for the Hawaiian Islands.

Crittenden reached Pearl Harbor, T.H., on 20 March 1945, and moored starboard side to pier 22. Within an hour of her arrival the attack transport commenced debarking her passengers and unloading cargo. After spending most of the week in port, she got underway from 24 to 29 March to participate in landing force and gunnery drills in the local area. Upon her return to Pearl on the 29th, she began an upkeep period while her crew enjoyed some recreation time on shore.

On 2 April 1945, Crittenden stood out from Pearl to participate in another series of exercises in nearby waters. Assigned to Task Group (TG) 13.10.1, and steaming in company with the light minelayer Pruitt (DM-22), she acted as a target ship for submarines. On 5 April, she began a multi-day landing exercise in which she conducted smoke laying drills, debarkation tactics and small boat landings. With exercises concluded on 7 April, Crittenden steamed back to Pearl and moored in berth X-13.

After loading ammunition from the 8 to 9 April 1945, Crittenden stood out from Pearl to rejoin TG 13.10.3, and conduct more amphibious training in the local area. On 15 April, she arrived at Maalaea Bay, Maui, and spent the next several days participating in debarkation exercises. Crittenden briefly returned to Pearl on the 18th, but then resumed at sea exercises and debarkation training, which included a simulated landing at Kaho‘olawe on the 24th. On 30 April, the attack transport pulled into berth F6 at Pearl for engine repairs and then remained moored there for several weeks while her crew did “general ship’s work and awaited orders.”

Underway with Task Unit (TU) 13.12.8 on 23 May 1945, Crittenden shaped a course for San Francisco. Following an uneventful voyage, she proceeded up swept channel on the 30th and at 0937 anchored in Berth no.10. On 10 June, her crew began loading cargo for an upcoming deployment to the Pacific. Four days later the ship embarked the advance detail of the ship’s guard and 70 men from a U.S. Navy Construction Battalion (“Seabees”). The following day additional troops and passengers came on board including 26 officers and 720 enlisted men.

Underway from San Francisco on 15 June 1945, Crittenden later arrived at Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, on 28 June, and anchored in berth G-7. The attack transport remained moored at Eniwetok for several weeks during which time recreational opportunities for the crew were limited due to the lack of facilities available at Parry Island. As a bonus, additional fishing parties augmented the recreational periods on the island.

Crittenden set out on the next phase of her voyage on 14 July 1945, getting underway with TU 96.6.6, bound for Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands. Arriving at Ulithi on 18 July, Crittenden dropped her anchor in berth 122. Shortly after her arrival, recreation parties were sent ashore to Mogmog Island, where the crew was able to participate in softball games and other activities. The following week Crittenden’s stay at Ulithi became much more eventful.

While anchored in 23 fathoms of water on the evening of 25 July 1945, amid calm seas and cloud cover, at about 2100, Crittenden’s crew sat watching a motion picture on board the ship. Two sailors sitting in an LCVP nested on the port side of no.2 hatch aft, observed “what appeared to be a phosphorescent wake paralleling the ship.” The wake was about five feet wide and appeared to be from a slow-moving submerged object traveling forward to aft at a distance of about seventy-five yards.

Sentries on Crittenden also spotted the wake dead astern, and security and gun crews were subsequently alerted. Although nothing further developed, observers of the “unidentified object” reported that they believed the wake was caused by a midget submarine and/or piloted suicide torpedo [Kaiten]. The following morning, Crittenden’s commanding officer reported the incident to the Chief of Staff Atoll Command, who in turn, confirmed that he had received intelligence indicating that an underwater craft of some type was believed to have been operating in the lagoon during the previous night. As a precaution, divers were deployed to check Crittenden for mines.

Just a few days after the incident in the lagoon, on 29 July 1945, Crittenden got underway for Okinawa with convoy UOK-42. On the 31st, the convoy was diverted in order to “elude a storm crossing the original track,” but nonetheless, on 5 August, Crittenden arrived safely at Okinawa. Within minutes of her arrival Crittenden’s crew had to go to general quarters following a Japanese air attack. The threat eventually passed and Crittenden maneuvered into Buckner Bay anchoring in berth L-28. The attack transport then debarked her passengers and unloaded her cargo.

On the evening of 10 August 1945, “word of a possible Japanese surrender was received,” and victory celebrations at Okinawa ensued. Although certainly elated by the news, Crittenden’s commanding officer, who had been at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, indicated in the ship’s log that Crittenden “did not take part in the indiscriminate firing of anti-aircraft guns and pyrotechnics, which lighted the sky for miles around Buckner Bay.” Quite to the contrary, the ship went to general quarters following a Flash Red Alarm issued by shore authorities.

Crittenden got underway from Buckner Bay on the morning of 11 August 1945, steaming with convoy OKU-18, however, after making it just a few miles outside of port her orders were canceled and she returned to the anchorage. On 13 August, kamikaze attacks targeted ships in the bay, with one hitting the attack transport Lagrange (APA-124), located just 2,000 yards from Crittenden. As a result of the attacks “the next few days and nights were filled with [choking], bleary, clouds of smoke as ship’s generators and fog boats covered the harbor with a thick camouflage on every alert.” These precautions proved prudent as air attacks continued and several other ships in the anchorage were later hit by bombs.

Crittenden got underway from Buckner Bay again on 23 August 1945, steaming with convoy OKI-105 to Manila Bay, Philippines. Not long into her voyage Crittenden became “unable to maintain a heading due to heavy seas and high winds, resulting from cyclonic storms in the area.” Convoy ships were then ordered to proceed independently. Battling the storm well into the following day, Crittenden sustained some minor damage, but was eventually able to rejoin her convoy. On 27 August she arrived at Manila Bay and anchored.

At Manila for just under a week, during which time the formal Japanese surrender took place in Tokyo Bay on board the battleship Missouri (BB-63), Crittenden shifted over to Subic Bay, Philippines, on 5 September 1945, and then, after being there for only five days steamed back to Manila Bay again for a degaussing run on 10 September. Moored port side to Pier No. 11, on 12 September, Crittenden began loading troops and cargo intended for the occupation of Japan. In all, she received 721 soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 6th Ranger Battalion, A and D Companies.

On 16 September 1945, Crittenden arrived at San Fernando Harbor, Lingayen Gulf, Philippines, and joined company with Transport Division 56. The following day she participated in a rehearsal landing with several other transports. On 20 September Crittenden, steaming with TU 54.61, stood out from the Lingayen area and, taking a station astern of Okanogan (APA-220), shaped a course for Wakayama, Honshu, Japan.

Arriving at her destination on 25 September 1945, Crittenden anchored in berth 16, Transport Area Able at Wakayama. A few hours later she shifted over to Transport Area Charlie and then commenced debarking her passengers. Unloading efforts were completed later that evening and the following morning on 26 September, Crittenden got underway with TU 54.24.1 bound for Leyte, Philippines. The attack transport encountered heavy seas on 29 and 30 September, which caused one of Crittenden’s oil lines to rupture. Despite only being able to proceed at a speed of 9 knots while repairs were being made, by 1 October, Crittenden had managed to rejoin her task unit. Only an hour after doing so she arrived at Subic Bay, from whence she proceeded on to San Pedro Bay that same day.

Crittenden anchored at San Pedro Bay on 3 October 1945. On the 5th, she began loading stores and cargo and, on the 6th, divers wire-brushed her port and starboard screws. On 7 October, the attack transport steamed to Davao Gulf, Mindanao, proceeding on just one engine due to a casualty which had occurred earlier in the day. Arriving in her assigned berth on the 8th, she then had some repair work done. Two days later, Crittenden commenced loading cargo and embarking troops from the U.S. Army 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment.

On 13 October 1945, Crittenden, escorted by the destroyer Niblack (DD-424), got underway for Matsuyama, Shikoku Island, Japan. Despite suffering from more mechanical issues during the voyage, Crittenden arrived at her destination on 21 October and anchored in berth 92. The following morning, her passengers went ashore and then a few days later on the 25th, she got underway for Buckner Bay.

Shortly after Crittenden’s arrival at Buckner Bay on 27 October 1945, she loaded 19-tons of dry stores from the cargo ship Phobos (AK-129). The following day she loaded fresh provisions from the general stores issue ship Kochab (AKS-6) and then on the 29th got underway for Naha Ko, Okinawa. She arrived at her destination later the same day and anchored in berth 172.

Beginning on 5 November 1945, Crittenden was assigned, to Magic Carpet, duty bringing servicemen back to the United States for discharge. She steamed that same day to Hagushi anchorage, Yomitan, Okinawa, and then on the 8th got underway for Buckner Bay. Shortly after her arrival on 9 November, tank landing craft LCT-1339 came along her port side and transferred 41 officers and 100 enlisted men for transportation to the U.S. The following morning, she steamed independently for San Francisco.

During Crittenden’s voyage, on 22 November 1945, she briefly had her course changed to Seattle, Washington. However, on 23 November, the attack transport encountered heavy seas and winds in excess of 52 knots, which diverted her back to San Francisco. At 0531 on 27 November, she passed Farallon Island Light, Calif., abeam to port. Shortly thereafter she passed underneath the Golden Gate Bridge and a yacht bearing the streamer “Welcome Home,” and a Women’s Army Corps band escorted Crittenden into the harbor. Crittenden’s passengers debarked at the docks in San Francisco and then at 1330 the attack transport proceeded to the U.S. Naval Dry Dock at Hunters Point, San Francisco.

Crittenden remained moored at Hunters Point for the rest of the month and “as much leave as possible was granted for crew and officers while yard workmen swarmed over the ship doing necessary repair work.” At noon on 12 December 1945, Crittenden put back out to sea for another round of Magic Carpet duty. She arrived off Samar, Philippines, on 31 December and then the following day embarked 1,046 enlisted men and 35 officers. A typhoon warning briefly delayed her departure, but on 4 January 1946, she got back underway for California, and arrived at San Pedro on the 21st.

Crittenden stood out from San Pedro on 16 February 1946 to join Joint Task Force 1 for the Atomic Bomb tests at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands.

Operation Crossroads

A group of prospective target and support ships for Operation Crossroads (the Bikini Atomic Bomb tests) lying at anchor at Pearl Harbor. Ships present from front to rear include Crittenden (APA-77) and several of her sister ships, Catron (APA-71), Bracken (APA-64), Burleson (APA-67), Gilliam (APA-57), Fallon (APA-81), an unidentified ship, Fillmore (APA-83), Kochab (AKS-6), Luna (AKS-7) and an unidentified tanker and liberty ship. This photograph was released on 27 February 1946. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-702126, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

On 27 August 1946, she arrived at Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, and was decommissioned there the following day. After undergoing a damage study, the ex-Crittenden was towed back to San Francisco on 1 January 1947.

The following year, on 5 October 1948, she was sunk in an explosives test off the coast of California.

Crittenden sinking

Crittenden sinking, following an explosives test off the coast of California on 5 October 1948. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-396975, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Crittenden was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 21 October 1948.

Commanding Officer

Date Assumed Command

Cmdr. Paul C. Crosley, USN

17 January 1945

Jeremiah D. Foster

13 July 2020

Published: Tue Jul 14 16:05:09 EDT 2020