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Fallon (APA-81)

1945-1948

A county in Montana.

(APA-81: displacement 4,247; length 426'; beam 58'; draft 16'; speed 18 knots (maximum), 13.5 (economical); complement 320; armament 1 5-inch, 8 40 millimeter, 10 20 millimeter; class Gilliam; type S4-SE2-BD1)

Fallon (APA-81) was laid down on 28 September 1944 under a Maritime Commission contract (MC Hull No. 1874) at Wilmington, Calif., by the Consolidated Steel Corporation’s Shipbuilding Division; launched on 14 December 1944; sponsored by Mrs. William H. Guild; accepted on 13 February 1945; and commissioned at Pier 58, San Pedro, Calif., on 14 February 1945, Cmdr. William L. Phinney, USNR, in command.

After fitting out (14-25 February 1945), Fallon reported to Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet and Commander Operational Training Command, Pacific, for shakedown training as of 24 February. During the period between 25 February and 7 April, the ship underwent shakedown training out of San Pedro, amphibious work out of San Diego, Calif., and post-shakedown availability at Wilmington.

Fallon sailed from San Pedro on 12 April 1945 and proceeded, via Port Hueneme, Calif., (12-15 April) for Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii (T.H.), reaching that destination on 21 April. Sailing three days later for the Marshall Islands, she delivered cargo and passengers to Eniwetok (3 May) and Saipan, in the Marianas (6-11 May) before she returned to Pearl on 20 May. Underway two days later, the ship returned to the West Coast, reached San Francisco, Calif., on 28 May. Clearing ‘Frisco on 6 June, Fallon steamed to Portland, Ore., where she embarked army troops (8-12 June) slated for transfer to the Hawaiian Islands. Standing in to Honolulu, T.H., harbor on 19 June, the ship sailed for Eniwetok on 26 June. Arriving at her destination on Independence Day, 4 July, she got underway two days later to return to the Pacific Northwest, standing in to the port of Seattle, Wash., on 20 July.

Following a period of voyage repairs at Seattle, Fallon returned to San Francisco on the last day of July 1945, then sailed for Oahu, T. H., on 3 August. Reaching Pearl Harbor on 9 August, Fallon reported to Commander Amphibious Group Four for duty and received temporary assignment to Transport Squadron 22, Transport Division (TransDiv) 72, on 17 August. Shifting to Hilo, T.H., the ship embarked elements of the 26th Regimental Combat Team (RCT), Fifth Marine Division, on 23 August, and sailed on 1 September with Task Group 54.21. Proceeding via Saipan (13-16 September) Fallon disembarked the marines she had brought from Hilo to serve in the occupation of Japan, the voyage and the landings at Sasebo, Kyushu, “made as scheduled without incident” on 22 September.

Fallon departed Sasebo the day after she had disembarked the 26th RCT (23 September 1945), arriving at Okinawa, in the Ryukyus, on the 25th to assume Magic Carpet duty. She returned to Sasebo on 6 October to embark returning servicemen. Three days later, on 9 October, she reported to Commander Service Force, Pacific (ComServPac) for duty, and on the 13th she departed to return to the West Coast. Reaching San Diego on 29 October, the ship underwent an availability there (29 October-13 November) before returning to her part in Magic Carpet, steaming to the Philippine Islands, arriving off the island of Samar on 2 December to embark passengers. Standing out of San Pedro Bay five days later, Fallon reached Seattle on the day before Christmas, 24 December, to disembark returning veterans. The next day [25 December], Capt. Earl B. Patterson (USNA 1927) relieved Cmdr. Phinney as commanding officer.

On 29 December 1945, Fallon was assigned to the Fourteenth Naval District for “special tests.”  Departing Seattle on the last day of the year 1945, the ship proceeded, via Portland (1-2 January 1946) to San Francisco, arriving there on 5 January, where the process of “stripping ship” began. Sailing on 16 February 1946, the ship arrived at Pearl Harbor a week later, on the 23rd, where she underwent preparations for her employment as a target vessel in Operation Crossroads, the atomic weapons tests at Bikini Atoll. During that period, Cmdr. Warren W. Sackett relieved Capt. Patterson as commanding officer, on 13 April. Fallon reached the Marshalls on 28 May, and received assignment to TransDiv 91 of Task Unit 1.2.6 (Merchant Type Unit).

On 30 June 1946, Fallon lay moored 1,350 yards from the detonation point of Shot ABLE. Her crew moved to the attack transport Bexar (APA-237) at 1330 that day. Shot ABLE occurred at 0900 on 1 July. Some nine hours later, observers reported fires on board the ship. Boarding teams, including Cmdr. Sackett, however, did not return to the vessel until late in the afternoon watch on 2 July, Fallon reporting “Geiger Sweet” at 0925. She was declared “radiologically safe” at 1723. She lay in berth 201 (5-10 July) before being moved to berth 161 on the afternoon of the 11th.

Her people having been evacuated to Bexar an hour into the afternoon watch on 24 July 1946, Fallon lay only 540 yards from the detonation of Shot BAKER at 0835 the following morning. Salvage vessel Preserver (ARS-8) conducted radiological surveys of the area on the 26th, but a boarding team did not return to the now battered attack transport until late in the morning on the 27th, beaching the vessel to prevent her sinking at 1436. Further boardings occurred on six occasions between 13 and 21 August, with a salvage party coming on board for an hour on 22 August to rig pumps. The ship’s company leaving for Kwajalein on the 23rd, a second salvage party completed rigging salvage pumps later that same day. Two days later (25 August), a month after Shot BAKER, Clamp (ARS-33) towed Fallon to a mooring buoy to facilitate salvage work, and Cmdr. Sackett and the ship’s engineering officer inspected the flooded spaces between 1510 and 1600. Those two officers returned to Bexar on 26 August, an hour before the end of the forenoon watch.

Decommissioned at Bikini on 28 August 1946, Fallon was towed to Kwajalein by Reclaimer (ARS-42), arriving there on 3 September. Although originally earmarked for towing to Hunter’s Point, Calif., for detailed radiological and structural tests, Fallon underwent an inspection that revealed that she had suffered serious structural damage, with ComServPac questioning the advisability of towing the ship to the West Coast. Consequently, the office of the Chief of Naval Operations (Op-33) directed that Fallon be held at Kwajalein until further directed.

Ultimately, the ship that had landed marines to occupy a former enemy’s homeland and then returned veterans who had served in the Pacific War, was deemed unseaworthy due to radioactivity and structural damage. Permission having been granted on 25 February 1948 to sink her, she was sunk in deep water off Kwajalein on 10 March 1948. Fallon was stricken from the Naval Register on 5 April 1948.

Commanding Officers                           Date Assumed Command

Cmdr. William L. Phinney, USNR                14 February 1945

Capt. Earl B. Patterson, USN                      25 December 1945

Cmdr. Warren W. Sackett                              13 April 1946

Robert J. Cressman

8 June 2016 

Published: Wed Jun 08 12:15:45 EDT 2016