Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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(AP‑71: dp. 7,954; l. 491'8"; b. 69'6"; dr. 26'6"; s. 18.4 k.; cpl. 403; trp. 1,981; a. 4 3", 6 40mm.; cl. Elizabeth C. Stanton; T. C3‑Cargo)

Born 28 February 1797 in Buckland, Mass., Mary Lyon was a pioneer in women's education in America. She founded Mount Holyoke Seminary, now Mount Holyoke College, in 1836. Miss Lyon died at the college 5 March 1849.

Lyon (AP‑71) was built as Mormactide under Maritime Commission contract by Ingalls Shipbuilding Co., Pascagoula, Miss.; laid down 21 August 1939; launched 12 October 1940; sponsored by Miss Gloria McGehee; renamed Lyon 20 August 1942; acquired by the Navy and transferred to Atlantic Basin Iron Works, Brooklyn, N.Y., for conversion 13 September 1942; and commissioned 16 September 1942, Capt. M. J. Gillan in command.

Prior to her World War II service, Mormactide operated commercially with the Moore‑McCormack Steamship Co. After being turned over to the Navy, she completed conversion to an AP-20 September 1942.

Lyon departed Newport News, Va., 22 October 1942 for the invasion of French Morocco as part of the largest group of ships ever assembled up to that time. After transiting the U‑boat‑infested waters of the Atlantic, she arrived off the invasion beaches at Safi 7 November. While ships of the western task force of operation "Torch" silenced French shore batteries and naval resistance, troops of the western pincer designed to trap General Rommel's retreating Afrika Korps began pouring ashore. Though a cease‑fire was negotiated 11 November, German U‑boats interferred to keep the action hot, and the torpedo attacks which had been averted during the crossing began 10 November. Since the 15 transports and cargo ships anchored in Fedhala Roads offered a tempting target, they were removed to the security of Casablanca. Lyon was part of a convoy that sailed for the United States 15 November and arrived Norfolk the 24th.

From 13 December 1942 to 11 March 1943, Lyon made two voyages between New York and Oran, Algeria, delivering reinforcements for the north African campaign. The ship was then ordered to duty with Amphibious Force, Atlantic, for several weeks, and returned to north Africa 23 May to participate in amphibious training exercises until 28 June.

Lyon next departed Mers el Kebir, Algiers, 6 July with units of the Army 1st Infantry Division for the assault on Gela, Sicily. Undeterred by storm, she debarked her troops 10 July for the initial advance into Europe's "soft underbelly." The vessel sailed from the battle area 12 July and arrive in Algeria 3 days later to gird herself for the next assignment, the Salerno landings.

Operation "Avalanche" arrived off the enemy shore 9 September. The landings were successful despite heavy enemy fire, numerous air attacks, and complications resulting from a false report of Italy's surrender. Lyon returned to Oran 14 September and for the next 2 months reinforced American forces fighting in the area of Naples. She departed the Mediterranean 7 November and arrived in New York 21 November for overhaul.

In January 1944, Lyon transported 2,000 Army Air and Medical Corps personnel to Scotland, and returned to New York 28 January. She then departed for north Africa, via England, and made two voyages to Naples before beginning 5 months of training for her next combat role.

She sailed from Naples 13 August as part of a combined British‑French‑United States operation to land in the St. Tropez area of southern France. Lyon received her fourth battle star here where the expertly organized Allied landings overwhelmed opposition at this "back door" to Europe. The ship continued to reinforce these landings until 24 October when she again departed for New York.

Arriving 8 November, she prepared for Pacific duty, and sailed from New York 26 December. Lyon embarked combat forces in San Francisco in January 1945, and departed for the invasion of Okinawa.

Lyon successfully completed her role in this giant sledgehammer attack in the face of fanatical kamikaze attacks, and returned to San Francisco 21 May. She departed Seattle, Wash., 2 June to reinforce Okinawa, sailing via Honolulu, Eniwetok, and Ulithi. Lyon arrived off Okinawa 14 July and was immediately forced out to sea by a typhoon. For 2 days her convoy was exposed to enemy submarine and kamikaze attacks, but the proximity of Admiral Halsey's mighty 3d Fleet diverted the would‑be attackers. She returned to Okinawa 21 July and embarked veteran marines bound for Guam to prepare for the planned assault on the Japanese home islands. She rereturned to the west coast 14 August.

After two voyages to the Far East between August and November transporting occupation troops and returning veterans, Lyon arrived in San Francisco 3 February 1946. She departed Oakland, Calif., 2 March with 1,000 German prisoners of war bound for Liverpool, England, and returned to New York 12 April. She decommissioned 3 May 1946 and was returned to her owners, the Moore‑McCormack Lines.

Mormactide remained under the ownership of Moore-McCormack Lines until 1966, when she was acquired by Grace Lines and renamed Santa Regina.

Lyon received five battle stars for World War II service.

Published: Wed Jul 29 10:07:59 EDT 2015