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Trousdale (AKA-79)

1944-1946

A county in northern Tennessee.

(AKA-79: displacement 13,910 (trial); length 459'2"; beam 63'0"; draft 26'4" (limiting); complement 362; armament 1 5-inch, 8 40-millimeter, 12 20-millimeter; class Tolland; type C2-S-AJ-3)

Trousdale (AKA-79) was laid down on 22 April 1944 at Wilmington, N.C., by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Corp. under a Maritime Commission contract (M.C. Hull 1386); launched on 3 July 1944; sponsored by Mrs. J. R. Craig; delivered to the Navy under loan-charter on 24 July 1944; and commissioned at Hoboken, N.J., on 21 December 1944, Lt. Cmdr. William J. Lane, USNR, in command.

The attack cargo ship conducted shakedown training off Long Island, N.Y., and in the Virginia capes area before she proceeded to Bayonne, N.J., to load cargo earmarked for the Pacific theater of operations. On 27 January 1945, Trousdale headed for the open sea in company with the escort vessel Charles E. Brannon (DE-446), bound for Panama. She transited the Panama Canal on 2 February and sailed for the Territory of Hawaii on 3 February.

Reaching Pearl Harbor on 17 February 1945, Trousdale spent the next 25 days unloading cargo; making minor repairs; and waiting for orders. In mid-March 1945, she on-loaded her first combat cargo; miscellaneous units of the 10th Army, including signal battalions, military police, a weather squadron, communications companies, bomb disposal units, and occupational government personnel, together with 200 vehicles and 900 tons of equipment. On 14 March 1945, Trousdale set out for the Marshall Islands.

After anchoring at Eniwetok on 22 March 1945, the ship headed for the Carolines, arriving at Ulithi on 29 March. She got underway for the Ryukyus on 13 April and arrived off Okinawa on the 17th.

Trousdale anchored off Hagushi beach while the amassed battleships, cruisers, and destroyers shelled Japanese defenses further inland. After commencing unloading that evening, she temporarily suspended operations as Japanese kamikazes flew in from the north to attempt to crash American ships engaged in the landings.

Hampered by kamikazes and bad weather conditions with heavy seas and high winds, the ship lay off the beach for the next six days, engaged in nearly continuous unloading operations. On 22 April 1945, she joined a south-bound convoy and, on 27 April, made port at Saipan, where she transferred all of her landing craft, save two, to other ships.

Crossing the equator on 7 May 1945, Trousdale anchored off Guadalcanal on the 9th and soon commenced loading equipment belonging to rear-echelon units of the 6th Marine Division. On 18 May, the ship weighed anchor and steamed for Tulagi, where she loaded landing craft and set out, via Eniwetok and Saipan, for Guam, arriving there on 7 June.

On 13 June 1945, the attack cargo ship sailed for the west coast, making port at San Francisco. The ship then underwent minor repairs and loaded a cargo of oil and a new set of landing craft before setting a westerly course on 10 July, bound for Tinian, the U.S. base in the Marianas for Boeing B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers.

Meanwhile, the war in the Pacific was drawing to a close as American forces swept close to the Japanese home islands themselves. Carrier planes and ships offshore bombarded coastal targets; submarines, planes, and ships made the sea lanes untenable for Japanese sea power while the number of enemy planes dwindled.

Arriving at Tinian on 27 July 1945, the ship commenced offloading immediately and was working hard at the task on 5 August when a U.S. B-29 delivered an atomic bomb over Hiroshima. Trousdale completed discharging her cargo on the 8th and shifted her anchorage to Saipan the same day. While she was anchored there on 15 August, word came through that Japan had accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration and, being allowed to keep the Emperor, capitulated to the Allies. The long and bloody war in the Pacific was over.

Yet for Trousdale, and ships like her, the occupation operations were just commencing. Accordingly, the ship departed Saipan on 29 August 1945, arriving at Okinawa on 4 September. The attack cargo ship spent a week loading Army equipment for occupation forces and, in company with three other AKAs, sailed on 11 September for Korea.

En route, lookouts sighted mines drifting in the murky waters of the East China and Yellow Seas, and gunfire from the ships summarily destroyed these menaces to navigation. The ships made port at Jinsen [Inchon] on 13 September 1945 and commenced offloading soon after arrival. The AKAs encountered difficulties posed by the 20- to 30-foot tidal range which permitted larger landing craft to discharge cargo only at specific times. After completing the unloading operations, the ships headed back to Okinawa, arriving there on 18 September.

Trousdale then embarked marines for passage to Taku, China. Anchoring off Taku Bar, the ship sent her landing boats up the Wei River for special duties, while disembarking the marines for occupation duty. Orders soon came sending Trousdale to the Philippines. She departed the China coast on 6 October 1945, and, after steaming through a typhoon so intense that the ship's inclinometer recorded 55-degree rolls, reached Manila on 13 October. There, the ship took on fuel and provisions and was soon underway for Hong Kong. Upon her arrival in the vicinity of the British Crown Colony, the ship prepared to embark Chinese soldiers for passage to North China.

Chiang Kai-shek, as he had done during the war with Japan, sought U.S. assistance in his as yet undeclared war against the communists. This included the air and sea lifts of Nationalist troops to cities in northern China, population centers rapidly coming under the influence of the communist forces who had taken pains to encourage popular support while fighting the Japanese.

Accordingly, Trousdale embarked large contingents of Chinese troops, many of whom had never before been on board a ship. Commencing the loading on 24 October 1945, the operation was completed the next day, and the ship sailed for Chinwangtao at the base of the Great Wall of China. Making port on 30 October, she disembarked her troops and returned southward for another lift, the Chinese First Division, making port at Hong Kong on 7 November and departing two days later for Tsingtao where she arrived on 14 November.

While remaining at Tsingtao, the ship received urgent boiler repairs. The attack cargo ship got underway again on 14 November 1945 for Japan and arrived at Sasebo on the 20th. The ship sailed on New Year’s Day 1946, bound, via Midway Island, for the west coast.

Trousdale moored at San Diego, Calif., on 18 January 1946, but soon headed for Panama and steamed through the Canal on 2 February, exactly one year to the day since her first transit. She arrived at Norfolk, Va., on 11 February and, six days later, headed for the New York Naval Shipyard to prepare for decommissioning.

On 6 March 1946, the attack cargo ship departed New York on her last voyage as a U.S. Navy man-of-war and arrived at Norfolk on the following day. Trousdale was decommissioned on 29 April 1946, returned to the War Shipping Administration of the Maritime Commission on the 30th, assigned to the National Defense Reserve Fleet, and berthed in the James River at Lee Hall at 11:00 a.m. Her name was stricken from the Navy Register on 8 May 1946.

Delivered to a vessel of the Moran Towing and Transportation Co., Inc., at Lee Hall at 10:30 a.m. on 2 November 1946, the former attack cargo ship was taken to the Maryland Drydock Co., Baltimore, Md., whose yard would reconvert her. Sold to the Waterman Steamship Co. of Mobile, Ala., the title transfer occurring on 25 February 1947, Waterman renamed the ship Lafayette. Purchased in January 1955 by the Ocean Transportation Co., Inc., New York, N.Y., she was renamed Ocean Deborah. In 1961, she was purchased by the Central Gulf Steamship Corp., New Orleans, La., and renamed Green Dale on 30 June 1961. She served under that name until 1968 when she was sold to Tung Ho Steel Enterprise Corp. of Taiwan, being delivered to her purchaser on 25 November 1968. She was scrapped subsequently.

Trousdale received one battle star for her World War II service, for her participation in the capture and occupation of Okinawa Gunto (11-22 April 1945).

Robert J. Cressman

16 July 2020

Published: Thu Jul 16 09:40:46 EDT 2020