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 Gasconade (APA-85)


A county in east central Missiouri.

(APA-85: displacement 4,247; length 426'; beam 58'; draft 16'; speed 16.9 knots; complement 320; armament 1 5-inch, 8 40 millimeter, 10 20 millimeter; class Gilliam; type S4-SE2-BD1)

Gasconade (APA-85) was laid down on 7 November 1944 under a Maritime Commission contract (M. C. Hull) at Wilmington, Calif., by the Consolidated Steel Corp., Ltd.; launched on 23 January 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Winnie Cave, acquired by the Navy on 10 March 1945; and commissioned on 11 March 1945 at San Pedro, Calif., Lt. Codr. Allen E. Stiff in command.

After shakedown, Gasconade departed San Francisco on 8 May 1945 on a troop transport voyage to the Philippines. Steaming via Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok, and Ulithi, she arrived off Samar on 3 June. Loaded with mail and cargo, she steamed to San Francisco (18 June - 6 July); then transported additional troops to the Philippines. Standing in to Leyte Gulf on 2 August, she served as receiving ship until mid-August when she proceeded to Manila Bay to stage for the Allied occupation of Japan, hostilities having ceased on 15 August.

Gasconade departed Manila on 25 August 1945; and, as part of the transport task force carrying the first seaborne occupation forces to Japan, entered Tokyo Bay on 2 September while Japanese representatives were signing the instrument of surrender in the presence of Allied representatives on board the battleship Missouri (BB-63). She debarked her troops at Yokosuka on 3 September; steamed to the Philippines (4 - 11 September); then lifted more occupation troops from Mindanao to Kure, Japan (19 September - 6 October).

After returning to Leyte Gulf on 11 October 1945, Gasconade embarked military passengers and sailed for the United States on 17 October as part of Operation Magic Carpet. She reached Portland, Ore., on 2 November; transported occupation troops to Nagoya, Japan (18 November - 5 December); and sailed on 8 December on another Magic Carpet voyage, reaching Seattle on 19 December, six days before Christmas of 1945. After carrying a garrison force to Guam (13 - 29 January 1946), she voyaged to Pearl Harbor (30 January - 8 February) with returning veterans embarked.

Assigned to Joint Task Force 1, Gasconade during the next three months prepared for Operation Crossroads, the program of nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands. Departing Pearl Harbor on 18 May in company with Transport Division 92, she reached Bikini Atoll on 30 May. On 22 June, her crew transferred to Bexar (APA-237). Designated a target ship for the experiments, she survived the atomic blast on 18 July.

Gasconade was decommissioned in the Marshalls on 28 August 1946. In December, she was taken in tow at Kwajalein for transfer to the United States, where she arrived San Francisco on 27 January 1947. After undergoing structural and radioactivity tests, she was redesignated a target ship in March 1948.

She was sunk by torpedoes on 21 July in the Pacific Ocean off lower California.

Robert J. Cressman

12 August 2016 

Published: Sat Aug 13 00:20:32 EDT 2016