USS Botetourt (APA-136)
USS Botetourt (APA-136) underway, date and place unknown.
|Laid down:||22 August 1944|
|Launched:||19 October 1944|
|Commissioned:||31 January 1945|
|Decommissioned:||27 April 1956|
|In service:||23 September 1950|
|Out of service:||5 June 1946|
|Struck:||1 July 1961|
|Length:||455 ft (139 m)|
|Beam:||62 ft (19 m)|
|Draft:||24 ft (7.3 m)|
Oil Fired Steam Turbine|
|Boats and landing|
|Complement:||56 Officers, 480 Enlisted|
1 5"/38 gun|
1 40 mm quad mount
4 40 mm twin mounts
10 20 mm single mounts
USS Botetourt (APA-136) was a Haskell-class attack transport built and used by the US Navy in World War II and saw further service during the Korean War. She was a Victory ship design, VC2-S-AP5. She was named after Botetourt County, Virginia, USA.
World War II service
Botetourt was laid down on 22 August 1944 at Wilmington, California, by the California Shipbuilding Corp. under a Maritime Commission contract (MCV hull 52); launched on 19 October 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Robert C. Todd; moved to Oakland, California, on 28 October 1944 for outfitting by the Moore Dry Dock Co.; delivered to the Navy on 31 January 1945; and commissioned that same day, Comdr. William A. Barr, USNR, in command.
Following shakedown training out of San Pedro, California, and amphibious exercises at San Diego, California, Botetourt completed post-shakedown availability at San Pedro and then moved to San Francisco to load troops and equipment. On 8 April, the attack transport got underway for the New Hebrides Islands. She arrived at Espiritu Santo on 22 April. From that time through the end of hostilities in mid-August, the ship transported troops and cargo between many of the islands in the rear areas of the western and southwestern Pacific. She was at Luzon in the Philippine Islands on 15 August 1945 when the Japanese agreed to capitulate.
After embarking Japan-bound occupation troops, she departed Manila on 27 August in company with the other elements of Task Force (TF) 33. The convoy entered Tokyo Bay on 2 September, the same day that Allied and Japanese representatives formalized the surrender on board USS Missouri (BB-63). She unloaded cargo and disembarked troops before heading back to the Philippines on the 4th. The attack transport reached Leyte in the Philippines on 11 September and spent the next 10 days on the interisland circuit. On 22 September, Botetourt set sail from Abuyog, Leyte, on her way to the Ryukyus. She arrived at Okinawa on the 25th and—except for a brief period at sea to avoid a typhoon--remained there until early October. On 3 October, she put to sea and headed for Japan with additional occupation troops embarked. The attack transport disembarked her passengers at Aki Nada, Japan, between 5 and 10 October. On the 11th, the ship headed back to Okinawa, where she took on homeward-bound servicemen between the 13th and 16th. She resumed her voyage on the 16th and arrived in San Francisco on the 30th. Botetourt remained in San Francisco until 15 November, when she headed back to the western Pacific. She shuttled passengers between Korea and Japan until January 1946, during which month she returned to the west coast of the United States.
On 24 January 1946, the attack transport departed Portland, Oregon, on her way to the east coast. She made a stop at San Francisco, transited the Panama Canal, and arrived in Norfolk, Virginia, where she reported to the Commander, 16th (Atlantic Reserve) Fleet for inactivation overhaul. Botetourt was decommissioned on 5 June 1946 and berthed with the Norfolk Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet. There she remained until American participation in the United Nations' effort to stem North Korean aggression in the summer of 1950 brought an increased need for ships in the active Navy.
Korean War era service
Botetourt was recommissioned at Norfolk on 23 September 1950, Capt. Robert R. Moore in command. Botetourt spent the rest of 1950 outfitting and conducting shakedown training. January 1951 brought post-shakedown availability at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. She completed repairs on 27 January and, after a week of preparations, put to sea to begin operations out of Norfolk. Between late February and mid-June, the attack transport participated in a series of amphibious exercises and troop lifts. When not so engaged, she conducted independent ship's exercises and type training. In port, upkeep and maintenance occupied her time. On 15 June, she departed Norfolk for Morehead City, North Carolina, where she embarked marines. From there, Botetourt started out across the Atlantic on the only Mediterranean deployment of her career. While serving with the 6th Fleet, she participated in amphibious exercises at Sardinia, Crete, and Malta and visited ports in France, Greece, Italy, and Algeria. The attack transport departed Oran, Algeria, on 20 September and laid in a course for the United States. Botetourt disembarked her marine contingent at Morehead City on 30 September and reentered Norfolk immediately thereafter.
Her return to Norfolk heralded a resumption of troop lifts and amphibious exercises. Between mid-October and mid-November, she participated in an exercise at Vieques Island in the West Indies and in a similar evolution at Onslow Beach, North Carolina, upon her return. Botetourt reentered Norfolk on 18 November and enjoyed an extended leave and liberty period through the end of the year.
The following information is supplied by Crew Member Glen V. Jensen, RM2, USN. I was aboard 9/14/1950 to 1/4/1952. The following is from my personal diary for that period of service aboard the USS Botetourt.
- 1 9 5 0 -
9/14 Received orders, and transferred to the U.S.S. Botetourt, APA136 for duty. She is in drydock, at Portsmouth. VA, coming out of "Mothballs". I cam aboard as a RMSA (Radioman Seaman Apprentice). 9/23 The Botetourt was placed into commission. Being a member of the crew, when it is placed into service, makes you a "plank owner". Which I doubt has very much intrinsic value. 9/23 to 12/22 Underway. We took a series of Sea-Going trials, exercises, and training periods, to improve the combat efficiency of the ship and crew. 12/22 Docked at Navy base, Norfolk, VA. Got a six day leave. Took a plane to home and back 12/28 Returned to ship.
- 1 9 5 1 -
1/15 Advanced in rating to RMSN (Radio Man Seaman), after passing the required test with a mark of 3.64 our of a possible 4.00. In English that is 91%. It was the second highest mark out of 27 men that took the test. 1/15 Transferred on temporary additional duty to the Naval Amphibious Base at Little Creek, VA. Commenced Class C. School in Radio Telephone Procedure. 1/20 Graduated from RTP School with a final mark of 100%. What did they expect? I had just finished four months of Radio School in September. As a caveat, the instructor said nobody is perfect, so I got a 99% on the certificate. 1/20 to 4/20 Underway. At this time, I had not been keeping records, so the dates and Ports of call are not defined. The Botetourt made numerous runs in the Chesapeake Bay, training her, as yet, new Crew. After the men had been "salted" down enough, a thirty day shake-down cruise was made in the North Atlantic, in which no land was sighted. Thereafter she made numerous trips to Camp Pendleton, VA, Morehead City, NC and the beaches of Little Creek, Onslow, and Virginia for training in Amphibious Warfare. We had a crew of over 300, and carried up to 2000 Marines now and then, either embarking or disembarking them on beaches with our landing craft. 4/20 Left Norfolk to participate in the month long exercise "Convex-51". 5/10-5/12 Argentia, Newfoundland. Cold up here. Had to wear heavy foul weather gear. 5/18 Returned to Norfolk, VA to spend a month on leave and upkeep period. 6/4 Got a six day leave. Took a plane home and back. I usually flew into Chicago. Sister Charlene and her hubby Frank would pick me up, and off to the North country of Wisconsin, by car, we would go. Sometimes I would have to take the Soo Line Railroad, if Charn & Frank couldn't make it, and only if I had enough leave time. Six days isn't much. I called it the "Soup Line", as it reminded me of the Navy chow lines. They were just almost as slow. Returned to ship 6/10. 6/13 Departed Norfolk. 6/14 Arrived Morehead City, NC. Embarked Marines. 6/15 Departed Morehead City in route for tour of duty in the Mediterranean Sea, with the Sixth Fleet. 6/26 Arrived Gibraltar. Took ten days to cross the Atlantic. Relieved amphibious ships so they could return to the U.S. 6/29 Departed Gibraltar. 7/2 Arrived Cannes, France. While on liberty, went to Nice, France. 7/11 Departed Cannes. 7/11-16 Golfe Juan, France. Embarked Trust Observers. 7/17-18 Golfe De Palmas, Sardinia. Made Amphibious Training Landing, observed by Trust and Italian Admiral Ghe. 7/19 Cagliari, Sardinia. Disembarked Trust Observers. 7/23-28 Piraeus, Greece. It is the Port right next door to Athens. Went on liberty in Athens. Saw many historical places, including the Acropolis and the Parthenon. 8/2-5 Suda, Crete. Conducted three amphibious landings. 8/6-7 Iraklion, Crete. Disembarked Marine troops. 8/7-9 Suda, Crete. 8/9 Iraklion, Crete. Re-embarked Marines. 8/10 Suda, Crete. Made amphibious landing. 8/11 Maleme Beach, Crete. Made amphibious landing. 8/12 Suda, Crete. Rendezvous with Fleet. 8/15 Vendetta, Malta. Made an amphibious (training) assault against the British. We were attacked by British Nighthawks before arrival, and they hazarded us during the entire landing, skimming just above the landing craft. 8/16 Straits of Messina. Passed through these straits and off the Isle of Stromboli. The name being famous from a movie made there. 8/18-22 Golfe Juan, France. 8/23-27 Marseilles, France. 8/28-9/1 Cannes, France. 9/8-13 Naples, Italy. 9/15-20 Oran, Algeria, North Africa. Relieving ceremonies here prior to our departure to the U.S. 9/21 Passed through the Straits of Gibraltar. 9/31 Arrived Morehead City, NC. Disembarked Marine Troops. 10/1 Left Morehead City, NC. 10/2 Anchored Lynnhaven Roads, VA. 10/3-15 Naval Base, Norfolk, VA. Loaded cargo. 10/15 Departed Norfolk. 10/21 San Juan, Puerto Rico. Unloaded cargo. 10/22-31 Vieques Island. Held mock invasion of island assisted by about 100 other ships, and three Marine Regiments. Part of "Lantflex-52". I understand the U.S.S. Sarasota was also here. She was to be my next ship. 11/3-5 Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. 11/13-18 Onslow Beach, NC. Made mock invasion of the U.S. here, as part of Lantflex-52 finals. It was the largest Naval exercise to be held since WW2. One man aboard our ship was killed. Squashed between a landing craft and the ship. 12/19 Got 14 day leave. Took train home. Very slow riding, they are. Takes one full day to get to Chicago. Then you wait around for hours to catch the "Soup Line". It stops at every whistle stop between Chicago and Dorchester. I think it took about 12 hours one way.
- 1 9 5 2 -
1/3 Got back off leave. 1/4 I swapped duty with an RM3 from the U.S.S. Sarasota APA204. He was being discharged, and I liked the idea that ship was headed for the Mediterranean.
This ends Glen V. Jensen's Memoirs of the USS Botetourt history. You may also visit his next ship, the USS Sarasota, APA-204(also on Wikipedia).
The first three months of 1952 brought more local operations out of Norfolk. On 1 April 1952, she entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a two-month regular overhaul. At the conclusion of the repair period, the attack transport headed south to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for refresher training. Upon her return to Norfolk, she conducted additional amphibious training at Little Creek, Virginia In August, Botetourt made a round-trip voyage from the United States to Bremerhaven, Germany, to carry 1,600 Army troops there.
She returned to Norfolk early in September and, after two weeks of upkeep, resumed normal operations out of her home port. Botetourt continued in active service for a little more than three years. Her assignments during that time were quite repetitious. She participated in landing exercise after landing exercise—most frequently at Vieques Island or Onslow Beach. Those duties were punctuated with training cruises for naval reservists and summer training cruises for Naval Academy and NROTC midshipmen. Throughout that period, she operated either along the east coast or in the West Indies.
On 14 November 1955, Botetourt got underway from Norfolk bound for Philadelphia and inactivation. She arrived at her destination that same day and began preparations for inactivation immediately.
On 27 April 1956, Botetourt was placed out of commission and was berthed with the Philadelphia Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet. On 12 December 1960, she entered the Maritime Administration's National Defense Reserve Fleet at James River, Virginia. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 1 July 1961. Ex-Highlands was sold for $288,166 to Union Minerals & Alloys Corporation for scrapping on 21 August 1974. At 1035 EDT, on 10 October 1974 she was withdrawn from the Reserve Fleet and sent to the breaker's yard.