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Pandemus (ARL-18)


A mythological character.

(ARL-18: displacement 4,100; length 328'; beam 50'; draft 11'2"; speed 11 knots; complement 53; armament 8 40 millimeter, 8 20 millimeter; class Achelous)

LST-650 was laid down on 20 July 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co.; reclassified from LST-650 to ARL-18 on 14 August 1944; named Pandemus on11 September 1944; launched on 10 October 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Laura Sauter Gasperik; placed in reduced commission on 21 October 1944 for the transit to New Orleans, La.; decommissioned on 3 November 1944 for conversion to a landing craft repair ship by Todd Johnson Dry Dock, Inc.; and commissioned in full 23 February 1945, Lt. Cmdr. Howard B. Shaw, Jr., USNR, in command.

Pandemus departed New Orleans on 12 March 1945 for shakedown out of Panama City, Fla., and returned for alterations on 26 March. On 4 April she stood down the Mississippi River, bound by way of the Panama Canal, the Hawaiian and Marshall Islands, the Marianas, and Ulithi, in the Western Carolines, to Hagushi anchorage, Okinawa. There she tended and repaired infantry landing craft and other small craft from 13 June to 15 July 1945.

Pandemus then touched at Guam and Saipan on her way to San Pedro Bay, Leyte, Philippine Islands. She serviced landing and small craft in that area (6 August - 6 September 1945) and then at Okinawa (12-28 September) and Shanghai, China (30 September - 21 December). She put to sea from Shanghai on 21 December 1945, four days before Christmas, and steamed, by way of Pearl Harbor, to San Pedro, Calif., arriving there on 5 February 1946. Six days later, she was on her way to Mobile, Ala. where she arrived on 3 March. She shifted to Algiers, La., on  4 July and decommissioned there on 23 September 1946.

Pandemus recommissioned at Green Cove Springs, Fla., on 14 December 1951, Lt. John H. Thomas in command; fitted out at Merrill Stevens Shipyard, Jacksonville, Fla.; visited Norfolk on 23 January 1952; and arrived at the U.S. Naval Minecraft Base, Charleston, her home port, on 30 March and began 161⁄2 years of service supporting minesweeping training operations along the Atlantic Coast from Newport, R.I. to Key West, Fla.; in the Caribbean; and in the Gulf of Mexico.

Decommissioned on 30 September 1968, Pandemus was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 October 1968.  Ex-Pandemus departed Charleston on 16 January 1969 in tow of the fleet tug Mosopelea (ATF-158), bound for the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, where she arrived for "berthing and disposal actions" on 20 January, the Inactive Ship Facility assuming custody of the vessel on that date.  Having been stripped of all useable equipment and adjudged "free of all liquid petroleum products," and earmarked for use as a target, ex-Pandemus departed Philadelphia on her last voyage, in tow of the auxiliary tug Accokeek (ATA-181) on 26 August 1969, bound for Morehead City, N.C., and, ultimately, her being scuttled for use  as the Stumpy Point, N.C., bombing target, replacing an earlier LST-type ship that had deteriorated to the point of being "unsatisfactory."

Pandemus received one battle star for her World War II service.

Published: Tue Feb 09 14:14:16 EST 2016