(APA-114: displacement 16,100 tons; length 492'; beam 69'6"; draft 26'6"; speed 16 knots; complement 479; armament 2 5-inch guns. 8 40mm machine guns; class Bayfield; T. C3-S-A2)
A county in Tennessee.
Hamblen (APA-114) was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC Hull 876) by Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp., Pascagoula, Miss. on 16 February 1944; launched on 30 July 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Hugh B. Vickery, wife of Navy Commander Vickery; converted to a troop transport at Waterman Shipbuilding Co., Mobile, Ala.; acquired by the Navy on 9 June 1945; and commissioned on 12 June 1945, Captain George M. Wauchope, USNR, in command.
After shakedown and amphibious operations training out of Galveston, Texas, between 22 June and 13 July, Hamblen sailed for New Orleans, Louisiana. She loaded passengers and cargo there and departed for Puerto Rico on the 21st, arriving in San Juan on 25 July. After embarking a contingent of Puerto Rican army troops that same day, Hamblen got underway for Hawaii on the 26th, arriving at Honolulu via the Panama Canal on 11 August. Shortly after her arrival, on 15 August, the crew received word of the Japanese surrender announcement and Hamblen was tasked with bringing occupation troops to Japan as part of Transport Squadron 22, Fifth Fleet Amphibious Force.
After loading elements of the 5th Marine Division at Hilo in late August, Hamblen sailed for Japan via Saipan in a convoy of other troop and cargo ships in Task Group (TG) 54.2, although the convoy's arrival was delayed by a major typhoon passing the Kyushu area on 17-18 September. Once the weather cleared, the transports took on Japanese pilots who led them into Sasebo harbor on 22 September, where she unloaded her portion of the 10,000 Marines who disembarked that day.
Transfered to TG 54.4, the transport got underway three days later for the Philippines, anchoring in Lingayen Gulf on 3 October where she embarked elements of the Army 32d Division. Although delayed by typhoon weather, Typhoon "Louise" was pounding Okinawa on 9 October, Hamblen got underway that day for Japan. Although her intended destination was Fukuoka, the Army troops were instead unloaded on 14 October at Sasebo, principally owing to the presence of highly-dangerous Army Air Corps pressure mines still lurking in Fukuoka harbor. She made a second troop lift from the Philippines shortly thereafter, departing Sasebo on the 18th, loading troops at Manila and Lingayan Gulf 26-28 October and arriving at Wakayama, Japan, on 2 November. Hamblen departed the Japanese Home Islands for the last time on 5 November, stopping at Saipan to embark returning veterans and then sailing eastward, arriving San Pedro, Calif., 24 November 1945.
Hamblen made one more voyage on Operation "Magic Carpet," the immense task of bringing home American servicemen. Sailing from San Pedro on 8 December, the transport arrived at Okinawa on 26 December, loaded troops and got underway for home four days later. She arrived in Tacoma, Washington, on 17 January 1946
The transport was released from service on 23 January 1946, and sailed to the Canal Zone, where she arrived 22 February. Hamblen continued to Norfolk, where she decommissioned on 1 May 1946. Six days later she was returned to the Maritime Commission, was struck from the Navy List on 8 May 1946, and then sold to Isthmian Lines in 1948, where she served as merchant ship Steel Voyager.
Partial update 26 June 2007, Dr. Timothy L. Francis