(LSD-31: dp. 6,880; l. 510-; b. 84-; dr. 19-; s. 21 k.; cpl. 766; a. 8 3-, 12 20 mm; cl. Thomaston)
A park in Pierce County, Tacoma, Wash., the site of a military reservation established by the U.S. Government in 1866.
Originally Hilton Head but renamed Point Defiance 30 December 1944, LSD-24 was laid down 28 May 1945 by Gulf Shipbuilding Corp., Chickasaw, Ala. After Japan capitulated, the Navy cancelled the contract for her construction 17 August 1945, but she was launched under private auspices 21 October 1945.
Point Defiance (LSD-31) was laid down by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp., Pascagoula, Miss., 23 November 1953; launched 28 September 1954; sponsored by Mrs. Arthur D. Struble; and commissioned 31 March 1955, Comdr. Oscar Blair Parker in command.
Following shakedown in the Gulf of Mexico, the new dock landing ship arrived Long Beach, Calif., in July 1955 and joined Amphibious Squadron 7, Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet.
After two deployments to the western Pacific, Point Defiance became one of the first rocket launching surface ships to support the 1958 International Geophysical Year Solar Eclipse Expedition to the South Pacific. Launchers on deck fired eight NIKE-ASP rockets to collect scientific data during the eclipse.
In May 1959 Point Defiance participated in the large scale and highly successful amphibious operation "Twin Peaks" off Oceanside, Calif. In February 1960 Point Defiance made her third cruise to the western Pacific, participating in operation "Blue Star," a combined amphibious operation with Chinese Nationalist Forces. In June 1960 she participated in operation "Sea Hawk," a combined amphibious landing with Republic of Korea forces and returned to Long Beach in July.
She operated off the West Coast during most of 1961, and made a brief cruise to Pearl Harbor and Okinawa. Point Defiance departed Long Beach for the western Pacific in January 1962. In May she landed Marines at Bangkok, Thailand. In October she transited the Panama Canal and steamed to the Caribbean ready to act if needed during the Cuban Quarantine.
In early 1963 Point Defiance carried bathyscaphe Trieste from San Diego through the Panama Canal to Boston for deep search operations into the cause of the loss of the nuclear submarine Thresher.
In September Point Defiance was on her way to the western Pacific again. In October she steamed to Vietnam to safeguard U.S. interests, and in November participated in another combined amphibious operation with the Republic of China.
From April to September 1964, Point Defiance operated in the eastern Pacific, then underwent overhaul. She departed for the western Pacific 27 April 1965 and off loaded men and equipment at Da Nang, South Viet Nam, 26 May On 18 June she helped rescue survivors from the midair collision of two Guam based B-52's. In July she landed Marines at Qui Nhon, South Viet Nam, and in early August helped salvage Frank Knox (DDR-742), aground on Pratas Reef. In late August she took part in the very successful operation "Starlight," an amphibious raid at Van Tuong, South Viet Nam, which inflicted heavy enemy casualties. After another successful amphibious landing, she returned home 24 November.
Point Defiance again departed for the western Pacific 27 March 1966, and began transporting troops and equipment from U.S. bases in the Far East to South Viet Nam. She returned to Long Beach 24 June, but deployed to South Viet Nam again 1 November. On 11 January 1967 Point Defiance participated in operation "Deckhouse V," a major U.S. operation in the Kien Hoa area. On 18 May she sent U.S. Marines on to the beach in the southern half of the Demilitarized Zone, exchanging fire with North Vietnamese shore batteries. She returned to Long Beach 24 June.
On 7 May 1968 Point Defiance was off on another deployment to the western Pacific, once again with an amphibious ready group off Vietnam. She returned to Long Beach 18 December. She remains with the Pacific Fleet into 1970.