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Monrovia (AP-64)

1942-1968

The birthplace of President James Monroe, in Westmoreland County, Va.

(AP-64: displacement 8,889; length 491'; beam 65'9"; draft 25'8"; speed 16 knots; complement 558; armament 1 5-inch, 3 3-inch; class Crescent City; type C3‑Delta)

Monrovia (AP‑64) was laid down on 26 March 1942 under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 152) at Sparrows Point, Md., by Bethlehem‑Sparrows Point Shipyard, Inc.; launched on 19 September 1942; sponsored by Mrs. John M. Carmody; and commissioned on 1 December 1942, Capt. Charles D. Leffler in command.

Reclassified APA‑31 on 1 February 1943, Monrovia conducted shakedown and amphibious training exercises in Chesapeake Bay through the winter months of 1943. On 10 May, she departed Norfolk, with Army passengers, for the Mediterranean and her first assault assignment. After hurried conversion to accommodate equipment needed by a flagship, accomplished in two weeks by the repair ship Delta (AR‑9) at Mers‑el‑Kebir, she embarkedArmy nurses as passengers for transport to Algiers. There, on 20 June, Vice Admiral H. Kent Hewitt and his staff came on board, and were joined ten days later by Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. On 6 July, she departed for Sicily where she served as the command ship of the Western Task Force for Operation Husky. Arriving off the assault area on the 10th, she suffered slight damage to one of her engine rooms on the 11th when a Junkers Ju.87 Stuka loosed bombs that straddled the vessel with two near misses. After repairs at Algiers, she returned to the United States with Italian POWs embarked, mooring at Portsmouth, Va., 4 August.

Reassigned later in the month, the attack transport took on marines and headed for the Pacific. On 9 October 1943 she arrived at Wellington, New Zealand, departing, on the 27th, for Efate, the staging area for the Tarawa assault. By 20 November she stood off that atoll as flagship of TransDiv 18. Afterward, with casualties, elements of the remaining units of the 2nd Marine Division, and several POWs, she returned to Hawaii.

During December 1943 and January 1944, she conducted training exercises in the Hawaiian area with marines and soldiers. On 22 January she sailed for her third amphibious operation, Kwajalein, participating in the assault there on the 31st, and returning casualties and POWs to Pearl Harbor in February. She then sailed on to San Diego, arriving on 17 February for availability and two months of training off southern California.

Underway for the combat area again in June 1944, she participated in the assault on Saipan, again landing personnel of the 2nd Marine Division, in spite of reefs, mortar fire, and aerial resistance. After the Battle of the Philippine Sea, she once more transported casualties and POWs to Hawaii, whence she sailed, 9 July, for Guam with units of the 77th Infantry Division. Arriving on the 22nd, she remained in the assault area for seven days before returning, with casualties, to Pearl Harbor for a brief availability.

In September 1944, with 96th Infantry troops embarked, the transport sailed west again, arriving at Manus, the staging area for the upcoming Philippine offensive, on 3 October. By dawn on 20 October, she was off Leyte. Unloaded by 1800, on the 21st, she got underway in time to clear the gulf before the arrival of Japanese naval units en route from the Sulu Sea. Heading southeast, she steamed to New Guinea, whence she lifted elements of the 11th Airborne Division to Leyte. She then sailed to New Britain, took on units of the 40th Infantry Division and returned to Manus to stage for the assault on Luzon.

Departing on 31 December 1944, she encountered aerial resistance in Lingayen Gulf, on 9 January 1945, and, on the 10th, killed a Japanese suicide swimmer before departing for Leyte to take on 1st Cavalry Division troops for transport to the Luzon beaches. Monrovia then returned to the Solomons, took on units of the 6th Marine Division, and, as flagship, TransDiv 36, conducted amphibious exercises in preparation for Operation Iceberg, the invasion of Okinawa. From the Solomons, she proceeded to Ulithi to join other ships assigned to TF 53, the northern attack force, and headed for the Hagushi beaches. By dusk on 1 April, she had landed all her marines, but, because of nightly retirements, did not complete discharging her cargo until the 5th. She then steamed eastward, arriving at Portland, Oreg., on the 28th for overhaul.

Monrovia returned to the western Pacific after the Japanese surrender and immediately commenced transporting occupation troops and supplies to China and Japan, returning to the United States with battle weary veterans. She continued to transit the Pacific, between the west coast and Japan, as a cargo and personnel carrier until the spring of 1946, when she was ordered to the east coast for inactivation. On 31 July 1946, she reported to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, at Norfolk, decommissioning there 26 February 1947.

Following the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, Monrovia was recalled to active service. Recommissioned on 30 November 1950, she joined the Atlantic Fleet's Amphibious Forces the following spring, 1951, to train for fall operations off Greenland. On 27 December 1951, she departed Norfolk for the first of her annual deployments to the Mediterranean, which continued, with few interruptions, until 1967. Assigned to PhibRon 8, she carried fleet marines while deployed with the 6th Fleet and conducted amphibious exercises with them while operating along the east coast and in the Caribbean. The maintenance of a defensive readiness throughout this period enabled her to react positively during the many intervening crises such as occurred at Beirut, Lebanon, July 1958; Cuba, October, 1962; and the Panama Canal Zone, January 1964. In 1968, Monrovia was again ordered deactivated.

Decommissioned on 31 October 1968, she was stricken from the Naval Register the following day and was sold for scrap.

Monrovia earned seven battle stars during World War II.

Published: Mon Dec 28 11:28:47 EST 2015