(LSD‑35: dp. 12,510; l. 510'; b. 84'; dr. 18'6"; s. 23 k.; cpl. 304: a. 8 3"; cl. Thomaston)
Home of President Thomas Jefferson near Charlottesville, Va., noted as a landmark in American domestic architecture, and designed by Jefferson himself.
The third Monticello (LSD‑35) was laid down 6 June 1955 by Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp., Pascagoula, Miss.; launched 10 August 1956; sponsored by Mrs. Harry R. Sheppard, wife of Congressman Sheppard of California; and commissioned 29 March 1957, Capt. J. T. Hodgson, Jr., in command.
After outfitting and trials off the East Coast, Monticello arrived at her homeport, San Diego, 27 May 1957 to join Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet, and immediately began shakedown training. She continued to operate off the Pacific coast, joining in major amphibious training operations which took her to Eniwetok in 1958 and Hawaii and Alaska in 1959, serving usually as primary control ship. Such operations, involving ships of all types along with underwater demolition teams and Marines, keep the fleet at top readiness for any challenge of diplomatic crisis or war itself.
On 14 November 1960 Monticello sailed for a 7‑month deployment with the 7th Fleet in the western Pacific. She was combat‑loaded with part of a Marine reenforced battalion landing team, and was alerted four times during the Laos crisis, steaming with Paul Revere (APA‑248) and four escorting destroyers in the South China Sea and the Gulf of Siam. Returning to San Diego in July, Monticello joined in a joint Army‑Navy‑Air Force amphibious exercise at San Juan Island, Wash., in September, then returned to fleet training operations from her homeport.
Monticello sailed 18 February 1962 in JTF 8 for nuclear weapons tests at Christmas Island, first carrying cargo between Christmas Island and San Diego, and then acting as command ship during tests of antisubmarine weapons. In June, she sailed again to Christmas Island to aid in closing down the test operation, and continued to a second 7th Fleet tour of duty highlighted by a large amphibious exercise at Okinawa. She returned to San Diego and a program of training with Camp Pendleton Marines, necessary overhaul, and refresher training early in December.
She again joined the 7th Fleet's Amphibious Ready Group from January to October 1964, taking part in SEATO as well as U.S. exercises.
After operating on the Atlantic coast through much of 1965, Monticello headed back to the western Pacific in August. Early in 1966, she steamed to South Vietnam for operation "Double Eagle," the longest and largest amphibious operation of the Vietnam conflict up to that time. It enabled Allied forces to engage Vietcong near Thac Tru and secure a beachhead in a key area. At the operation-s conclusion, 26 February, she headed for Subic Bay en route home via Hong Kong, Yokosuka, and Pearl Harbor.
After overhaul at San Pedro and training along the Pacific coast, Monticello got underway from San Diego 13 January 1967, heading for the Far East. Much action awaited her in Vietnam. She served as primary command ship for "Beacon Hill I" at Quang Tri 20 March to 2 April and "Beacon Star" there 22 April to 12 May. She joined in operation "Bell" in the latter half of May, In "Beacon Torch" and "Bear Chain" in July, and in August participated in "Kangaroo Kick," an amphibious feint off Hue, and "Belt Drive," again at Quang Tri. Relieved at Danang in September. Monticello returned to San Diego 13 October. After an overhaul that lasted until early 1968, Monticello conducted refresher training and local operations out of San Diego. In November of that year, she once again deployed to Vietnam where she remains into 1969.