(AKA-105: displacement 13,910; length 459'2"; beam 63'; draft 26'4"; speed 16.5 knots; complement 425; armament 1 5", 8 40 millimeter, 16 20 millimeter; class Tolland; type C2-S-AJ3)
A county in the state of Washington.
Skagit (AKA-105) was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC Hull 1696) on 21 September 1944 at Wilmington, N.C., by North Carolina Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 18 November 1944; sponsored by Miss Heloise Pike; acquired by the Navy on 28 November 1944; converted by the Bethlehem Steel Co., Brooklyn, N.Y., into an attack cargo ship; and commissioned on 2 May 1945, Capt. Harold R. Parker in command.
Skagit completed preparations for sea and sailed for Norfolk on 13 May 1945. After completing shakedown training, the ship stood out of port on 3 June en route to Marseille, France. She arrived there on 16 June, loaded cargo and passengers bound for Manila, P.I.; and sailed again on the 29th.
Skagit arrived at Manila on 15 August 1945, discharged her cargo there and reloaded with supplies for Tokyo. She steamed into Tokyo Bay on 2 September, being afforded a distant view of the battleship Missouri (BB-63) at the time the surrender ceremonies were being carried on. "V-J Day [sic] in Tokyo was certainly a glorious day for the Navy," an observer in Skagit wrote, "In all directions there were ships ranging from the mighty batleships down to the miscellaneous patrol craft, and in the skies over the Bay were hundreds of carrier planes patrolling with many of the Army super-fortresses [B-29s]. It was a sight never to be forgotten, and I am certain all hands were just as thrilled as I was to have been present during such a momentous occasion."
For the remainder of the year, the ship shuttled supplies and troops between American bases in the Far East, calling at Okinawa, Guam, Tientsin, Tsingtao, and Shanghai. She returned to the west coast on 16 December 1945 and operated out of San Diego with Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet until 22 June 1946 when she was deployed to Pearl Harbor for three months. She then returned to San Diego until 22 February 1947 when she sailed for Okinawa. Skagit operated between Okinawa, Guam, and China until the following November; broken only by a 19-day cruise back to the west coast in July.
In early 1948, the cargo ship was fitted out to make a polar expedition. On 26 July, Skagit departed the United States with the Point Barrow, Alaska, Expedition and remained there until 23 August. She was back in Alaskan waters in January and February 1949. The cargo ship returned to San Francisco on 25 February; was prepared for inactivation; and, on 30 June, was placed out of commission, in reserve, and berthed at the Mare Island Navy Yard.
On 25 June 1950, the North Korean People's Army invaded South Korea. This necessitated a fast increase in American surface shipping to meet the logistical demand placed upon it. Many ships of the "Moth Ball" fleet were reactivated; and, on 26 August 1950, Skagit was placed in full commission, Capt. George R. Over in command. She moved to San Diego for shakedown training and then trained other crews until 26 March 1951.
On that date, the cargo ship sailed for Pusan, Korea, with troops and combat supplies. After unloading, she proceeded to Yokosuka and conducted landing exercises for elements of the 40th Army Division. This training period was interrupted for a month in May when Skagit was ordered to sail to Inchon at flank speed to evacuate personnel and equipment if the situation there became more critical. However, Inchon was secured, and the ship resumed normal overseas operations until returning to San Diego on 15 October 1951.
Skagit deployed to the Far East again from May to December 1952. The Army was setting up new prisoner of war camps at Yongcho Do and Pongnam Do as a result of the riots at Koje Do. Skagit transported construction material to the new sites from Pusan and then assisted in the transfer of the communist prisoners.
During her deployment in 1954, Skagit was ordered to Tourane, French Indochina, to participate in Operation Passage to Freedom. The ship transported 4,089 refugees from Haiphong in the north to Saigon and Cape St. Jacques in the south. The refugees were fleeing from the communists then closing in on Hanoi and Haiphong.
For the next decade, Skagit divided her time between the western Pacific and operations along the west coast, south to Acapulco, Mexico, and north to Alaska.
On 23 August 1965, Skagit deployed to the Far East and remained there until 14 May 1966. This was not to be a peacetime cruise as during the past decade. The United States was committed to the defense of South Vietnam, and required Skagit for combat operations. On her voyage west, she carried cargo and transported marines to Okinawa. Between 13 November and 8 December 1965, she delivered two loads of cargo from Okinawa to Danang. In January 1966, Skagit embarked combat cargo and combat-loaded marines at Okinawa in preparation for an amphibious landing. On 28 January, Skagit, as a unit of Task Group 76.6 made an assault landing near Thach Tru in southern Quang Ngai Province, in Operation Double Eagle. Twelve amphibious force ships landed 5,000 U.S. Marines to battle the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese there. On 16 February, the ship proceeded to Chu Lai to unload her remaining cargo. In early March, she returned to Okinawa for another load of cargo and, upon her return to Vietnam, spent the remainder of the month shuttling supplies between Danang, Phu Bai, and Chu Lai.
Skagit entered the Todd Shipyard, San Pedro, Calif., on 25 October 1966 for an overhaul and remained there until 7 March 1967. On 31 May, the ship deployed to the western Pacific for a seven-month tour. She offloaded her cargo at Danang on 29 June and sailed to Sasebo for voyage repairs. Skagit returned to Vietnam and during the period from 15 September to 1 November, she used her Mike boats [LCMs] to transport more than 6,700 tons of combat supplies from Danang up the Song Huong River to Hue.
Skagit returned to San Diego on 10 December 1967 and operated along the west coast until 4 April 1969 when she was notified to prepare for inactivation. During that time, her designation had been changed from AKA-105, attack cargo ship, to LKA-105, amphibious cargo ship, on 1 January 1969.
Skagit was decommissioned at the U.S. Naval Station, San Diego, and was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 July 1969. "The USS Skagit leaves active service," one observer wrote, "and joins the ranks of the many fine naval ships, now at rest, who have served their country well, in war and in peace."
On that date, she was also transferred to the Maritime Administration for disposal. The ship was ultimately sold for scrap to Sangyong Trading Co. Ltd., Republic of Korea on 15 March 1974.
Skagit received two battle stars for Korean service and two for service in Vietnam.
Updated, Robert J. Cressman, 30 January 2007