(LST-1188: 8,000 (f.) ; l. 522'3"; b. 69'6"; dr. 14'8"; cpl. 186; a. 4 3"; cl. Newport)
A river in central Michigan formed by the confluence of the Flint and Shiawassee rivers and flowing north to empty into the Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron.
The second Saginaw was laid down on 24 May 1969 by the National Steel and Shipbuilding Co., San Diego, Calif.; launched on 7 February 1970; sponsored by Mrs. James Harvey; and commissioned at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard on 23 January 1971, Comdr. G. P. Brown in command.
The new tank landing ship (LST) completed fitting out, took on ammunition at Seal Beach, Calif., and got underway from San Diego on 4 March 1971, bound for the east coast. On her first day out, her lookouts sighted a mechanized landing craft, LCM(6)-805, adrift at sea. The LST took the drifting craft in tow and, later, turned her over to Point Defiance (LPD-31). Then, Saginaw proceeded (via Acapulco, Mexico, and the Panama Canal) to Little Creek, Va., her home port, arriving on the 26th.
Early in April, while preparing for shakedown, the ship tested a new concept for her class by hoisting a major self-contained medical unit (MUST) on her tank decks. This was done to evaluate the feasibility of setting up complete hospital facilities on her deck after off-loading her troops, vehicles, and cargo. She got underway on 19 April for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for shakedown which lasted until her return to Little Creek on 8 June. Various types of training and post-shakedown availability kept her busy through the end of the year.
On 16 January 1972, Saffinaw weighed anchor to participate in Operation "Snowy Beach" with Amphibious Squadron 8 at Reid State Park Beach, Maine. On the 28th, she completed the exercise and began preparations for overseas movement. On 23 February, she embarked marines at Morehead City, N.C., and sailed for the Mediterranean. She arrived at Rota, Spain, on 5 March and changed operational control to the 6th Fleet on the following day. For the next five months, Saginaw sailed the length of the "middle sea," participated in six amphibious exercises at various points across the Mediterranean, and visited ports along the way, from Spain to Turkey. She left the 6th Fleet in early August and returned to Morehead City on the 21st. After disembarking Marines there, she entered her home port on the next day. After a 30-day stand-down period, she resumed normal operations out of Little Creek for the remainder of the year.
Saginaw made two voyages to Vieques Island, P.R., in January and early February 1973 to transport marines to and from exercises held on that island. On 22 March, she deployed to the Caribbean for two months as a unit of the Caribbean Amphibious Ready Group. She returned to Little Creek on 18 May to regroup and replenish prior to her second deployment to the Caribbean. On 5 July, she resumed operations in the Caribbean until 24 August when she re-entered Little Creek. She remained in that area until 26 November, when she put to sea to join other elements of the United States and Canadian Navies in CAUSEX, a convoy protection ASW exercise. Saginaw returned to Little Creek on 6 December and remained in port for the duration of 1973.
Saginaw spent the first four months of 1974 in local operations out of Little Creek and in preparations for deployment to the Mediterranean. On 10 May 1974, she embarked marines at Morehead City, then got underway for Rota, Spain. She arrived in Rota on the 20th and, through June, is cruising the Mediterranean as a unit of the 6th Fleet.