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Sumter II (APA-52)


The second Sumter was named for the county in the state of South Carolina.


(APA-52: displacement 13,910; Iength 468'9"; beam 63'0"; draft 23'3"; speed 16.5 knots (maximum), 15.5 knots (economical); complement 449; troop capacity 1,563; armament. 2 5-inch, 8 40 millimeter, 10 20 millimeter; class Sumter; type C2-S-E1)

Iberville was laid down on 3 April 1942 at Chickasaw, Alabama, by the Gulf Shipbuilding Co., for the Waterman Steamship Co., under a Maritime Commission contract (M. C. Hull 474); launched on 4 October 1942; sponsored by Mrs. J. F. McRae. Classified as a transport AP-97, the ship was named Sumter and reclassified as an attack transport APA-52, and acquired by the Navy on 30 April 1943. Ferried to Baltimore, Md., Cmdr. William A. McHale, USNR, in command of the ferry crew, she underwent by the Maryland Drydock Co., and she was commissioned on 1 September 1943, Capt. Allan D. Blackledge in command.

Sumter sailed to Virginia and completed fitting out at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth. She then loaded a complement of 31 landing craft and a Beach Party unit before sailing to the west coast where she became the flagship of Transport Division (TransDiv) 26. She spent most of December 1943 conducting landing exercises off San Clemente, Calif., with elements of the 25th Regimental Combat Team, Fourth Marine Division.

Sumter stood out of San Diego on 13 January 1944 en route to Lahaina Roads,Territory of Hawaii, to rendezvous with other units of Task Force (TF) 53, the Northern Attack Force for the Marshall Islands operation. She arrived there on 21 January and the force sortied the next day. Sumter and three other transports landed three battalion landing teams of the 25th Marines on the atolls of Ennumennet and Ennubirr on 31 January to establish field artillery positions in support of the main landings at Roi and Namur.

Sumter completed landing all of her troops by 3 February 1944  and sailed the next day for the South Pacific for amphibious training. After exercises in New Caledonia and the Ellice and Solomon islands, she returned to Pearl Harbor on 8 April.

As a component of Task Group (TG) 52.4, Vice Adm. Richmond Kelly Turner's Northern Attack Force for the invasion of Saipan and Tinian, the attack transport again loaded elements of the Fourth Marine Division and sailed on 29 May 1944. The attack force refueled at Eniwetok and was off the landing beaches at Saipan before daybreak on 15 June. Covered by an intensive air-sea bombardment, and receiving incoming fire from enemy artillery, mortars, and automatic weapons, the assault wave of marines landed at 0843. The transport remained off the beaches until the 24th when she sailed to Eniwetok and Pearl Harbor. Before leaving Saipan, she had sent more supplies and equipment to Blue Beach One, treated wounded direct from the beaches and, prior to sailing, received on board an additional 85 battle casualties from the tank landing ship LST-218.

Sumter arrived at Pearl Harbor on 21 July 1944 and trained there until 12 August when she was routed to Guadalcanal for additional amphibious exercises with the 81st Infantry Division. She sailed from Lunga Point, on 8 September, with the troops embarked to participate in the invasion of the Palau Islands. After landing advance assault troops and a Beach Party at Anguar on the 15th, she stood off the island as the floating reserve for the First Marine Division's assault on Peleliu Island. The transport landed troops of the 81st Division on Anguar on 17 September and remained as a casualty evacuation ship until sailing to Manus, Admiralty Islands, on the 23rd.

Sumter was routed from there to Finschhafen, New Guinea, where she embarked men of the 10th Army Corps and sailed with Reinforcement Group 1 for the Philippine Islands. The troops were landed at San Pedro Bay on 22 October 1944, two days after the initial assault. The ship steamed to Guam, loaded elements of the 77th Army Division and disembarked them at Leyte on 23 November. She next steamed south to New Guinea and Sansapor. At the latter port, she loaded troops of the Sixth Army Division and sailed with the San Fabian Attack Force on 30 December 1944 for the Lingayen Gulf area of the Philippines.

On 8 January 1945 a kamikaze crashed the attack transport Callaway (APA-35)  as she steamed approximately 600 yards ahead of Sumter, and Sumter took over as formation guide, The next morning the assault troops, including those from Callaway, were landed on the Lingayen beaches. She steamed back to San Pedro three days later and made a turn-around voyage back to Lingayen with reinforcements which were landed on the 27th. She sailed for Seeadler Harbor and voyage repairs, thence to the Solomon Islands.

Sumter arrived at Guadalcanal on 19 February 1945 and began amphibious exercises with the 22nd Regimental Combat Team of the Sixth Marine Division in preparation for the invasion of Okinawa. She stood out of the Guadalcanal area on 14 March for Ulithi, Caroline Islands, where final staging was completed. The invasion force sortied on the 27th, and Sumter arrived off the beaches near Yontan Airfield in the early morning of 1 April. After landing 1,352 Marines of the assault waves, the transport remained off the beach until sailing for the United States, via the Mariana and Pearl Harbor, on 5 April.

Sumter arrived at San Pedro, Calif., on 30 April 1945 for overhaul, after which she trained in the San Diego area until 21 July when she sailed for the Philippines loaded with army troops. After calling at the Marshall and Caroline islands, the ship arrived in San Pedro Bay on 15 August, as hostilities with Japan ceased.

The transport embarked a contingent of the 33rd Army Division and departed for Japan on 9 September 1945. The troops were landed at Wakayama, Honshu, on 25 September; and Sumter headed back to the Philippines for more Army occupation troops which were disembarked at Matsuyama, Japan. She returned to Subic Bay on 1 November and embarked Navy veterans for transportation to the United States.

Sumter arrived at Seattle, Wash., on 22 November 1945 and remained there until 25 January 1946 when she moved to San Pedro, Calif., to unload her landing craft. Five days later, she sailed from there for the east coast, via the Panama Canal. The ship arrived at New Orleans on 15 February but left there the following month for Mobile.

Sumter was decommissioned on 19 March 1946 in the yard of the Gulf Shipbuilding Corp., Chickasaw, Alabama, and stricken from the Navy Register on 17 April 1946. She was returned to custody of the War Shipping Administration on 1 August 1946 for disposal.

Sumter entered the Reserve Fleet berthing area at Mobile, Alabama, at 4:00 p.m. on 1 August 1946. Turned over to the Moran Towing & Transportation under a general agency agreement, for the voyage to New York under tow, Sumter cleared Mobile at 8:30 a.m. on 27 October 1946, bound for the Todd-Hoboken Shipyard  to undergo reconversion.

Her title passing to the Waterman ,Steamship Co., of Mobile, at 11:44 a.m. on 8 April 1947, the veteran of five operations in the Pacific Theater  was renamed Gateway City.  The ship was sold to the Pan-Atlantic Steamship Corp. on 7 February 1956, after which she underwent conversion to a "cargo trailer ship" [containership] in September 1957.

Later sold to the Coastal Ship Corp. in December 1957, she operated under that house flag for over a decade, being purchased by the Donmac Corp. on 15 May 1968. One more change of ownership occurred, when R. J. Reynolds Industries, Inc., acquired the vessel on 28 December 1970, three days after Christmas of 1970. Ultimately, Gateway City was sold to Four Seas Enterprises, Ltd., on 31 August 1978, to be broken up for scrap. 

Sumter received five battle stars for her World War II service.

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

11 March 2024

Published: Mon Mar 11 21:44:38 EDT 2024