(LPD-3: dp. 13,900; l. 522'; b. 84'; s. 23 k.; cpl. 490; trp. 1,000; a. 8 3", 6 heli.; cl. Raleigh)
A town and county in Illinois named after Rene Robert Chevalier de La Salle, one of the most celebrated explorers and builders of New France in the 17th century.
The second La Salle (LPD-3) was laid down by New York Naval Shipyard, Brooklyn, N.Y., 2 April 1962; launched 3 August 1963; sponsored by Mrs. Victor M. Longstreet; and commissioned 22 February 1964, Capt Edward H. Winslow in command.
After shakedown and training in the Caribbean and off Norfolk, the amphibious transport dock departed Norfolk 9 October to participate in Operation "Steel Pike I", a complex training exercise involving over 80 ships and United States and Spanish troops. She closed the coast of Spain off Huelva 26 October, and embarked Under Secretary of the Navy Paul B. Faye, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Horacio Rivero, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Wallace N. Greene, and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Congressman Mendel Rivers to watch the landing operations.
The exercise completed 4 November, La Salle joined the 6th Fleet at Naples for amphibious operations and joint NATO training. She returned to Norfolk 13 March 1965.
With Vice Adm. J. S. McCain, Jr., Commander Amphibious Forces, Atlantic Fleet embarked, La Salle sailed 1 May for exercises in the Caribbean, returning to Norfolk 1 June. Three weeks later she joined the Caribbean Amphibious Ready Squadron, returning to home port 21 September to begin training operations along the east coast and in the Caribbean.
Through the first half of 1966, La Salle continued operating off the east coast. July and September were spent in Norfolk for upkeep and modifications, with further exercises following. On 3 November, she recovered a Gemini II test space capsule near Ascension Island. This was returned to Cape Kennedy, Fla., and the rest of the year spent on local operations in the Atlantic. La Salle entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 9 January 1967 for repairs and remained there until 20 March. The remainder of 1967 and the first three quarters of 1968 were spent conducting various exercises and port visits which ranged along the entire Atlantic and Gulf coasts and into the Carribean as well. On 2 November she put into Norfolk to prepare for an extended employment with the 6th Fleet. Departing 13 November, she steamed first to Moorhead City, N.C. and then began her voyage to the Mediterranean where she remains into 1969.