USS Lyon (AP-71)

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Name: USS Lyon
Namesake: Mary Lyon
Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi
Laid down: 21 August 1939
Launched: 12 October 1940, as Mormactide
Acquired: 20 August 1942
Commissioned: 13 September 1942
Decommissioned: 3 May 1946
Renamed: Lyon, 20 August 1942
Honors and
5 battle stars (World War II)
Fate: Returned to her owners
General characteristics
Class and type: Elizabeth C. Stanton-class transport
Displacement: 7,954 long tons (8,082 t)
Length: 491 ft 8 in (149.86 m)
Beam: 69 ft 6 in (21.18 m)
Draft: 26 ft 6 in (8.08 m)
Propulsion: Steam turbine, single shaft, 8,500 hp (6,338 kW)
Speed: 18.4 knots (34.1 km/h; 21.2 mph)
Complement: 429 officers and enlisted
Armament: • 4 × single 3"/50 caliber guns
• 6 × 40 mm AA guns

USS Lyon (AP-71) was a ship of the United States Navy which played an extensive role in naval transportation during World War II. The Lyon was built as the Mormactide under a Maritime Commission contract by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Company of Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was laid down August 21, 1939, and was launched on October 12, 1940; sponsored by Gloria McGehee. On August 20, 1942, the ship was acquired by the Navy and was renamed the Lyon after Mary Lyon, the founder of Mount Holyoke College (then Mount Holyoke Female Seminary). (See also List of U.S. military vessels named after women.)

The Lyon was transferred for conversion to the Atlantic Basin Iron Works of Brooklyn, New York on September 13, 1942. The ship was commissioned on September 16, 1942, with Captain Michael Joseph Gillan Jr. USNA 1920 in command. After the ship's service in World War II, the ship was decommissioned on May 3, 1946, and was returned to her owners, the Moore-McCormack Lines. In 1966 the ship was acquired by Grace Lines and renamed the Santa Regina.

Pre-World War II

Prior to her World War II service, Mormactide operated commercially with the Moore-McCormack Steamship Company. After being turned over to the Navy, she completed conversion to an AP, Elizabeth C. Stanton class transport, on 20 September 1942.

World War II

The Lyon departed from Newport News, Virginia on October 22, 1942 to assist in the invasion of French Morocco, taking part in the largest assembly of ships ever assembled at the time. The Lyon safely crossed the Atlantic Ocean, encountering none of the U-boats which were a major danger at the time. The ship arrived at Safi on November 7.

While ships of the western task force of Operation Torch silenced French shore batteries and naval resistance, troops of the western pincer were landed to trap the retreating Afrika Korps of General Erwin Rommel, the "Desert Fox". Though a cease-fire was negotiated on November 11, German U-boats interfered, and torpedo attacks began November 10. Since the 15 transports and cargo ships anchored in Fedhala Roads offered a target, they were removed to the security of Casablanca. The Lyon was part of a convoy that sailed for the United States on November 15, and arrived back in Norfolk on the November 4.

From December 13, 1942 to March 11, 1943, Lyon made two voyages between New York City and Oran, Algeria, transporting reinforcements for the campaign in North Africa. The ship was then ordered to duty with Atlantic Amphibious Force for several weeks, and returned to Africa on May 23 to participate in amphibious training exercises until June 28.

Lyon next departed Mers el Kebir, Algiers on July 6, with units of the Army's 1st Infantry Division for the assault on Gela, Sicily. The troops on the Lyon disembarked safely in stormy weather on July 10 for the initial advance into what had been called Europe's "soft underbelly". The vessel sailed from the battle area on July 12 and arrived back in Algeria three days later to prepare for the next assignment, the Salerno landings.

Operation Avalanche was launched on September 9. The landings were successful despite heavy enemy fire, air attacks, and complications resulting from a false report of Italy's surrender. The Lyon returned to Oran on September 14 and for the next two months reinforced American forces fighting in the Naples area. The ship departed the Mediterranean Sea on November 7 and arrived in New York City on November 21 for overhaul.

In January 1944, the Lyon transported 2,000 Army Air Corps and Army Medical Corps personnel to Scotland, returning to New York City on January 28. The Lyon then departed for North Africa via England, making two voyages to Naples before beginning five months of training.

She sailed from Naples on August 13 as part of a combined British-French-United States operation to land in the St. Tropez area of southern France. Lyon received her fourth battle star here where the Allied landings overwhelmed opposition at this “back door” to Europe. The ship continued to reinforce these landings until October 24 when she again departed for New York.

Arriving November 8, she prepared for Pacific duty, and sailed from New York on December 26. Lyon embarked combat forces in San Francisco in January 1945, and departed for the invasion of Okinawa.

Lyon successfully completed her role in this major attack in the face of kamikaze attacks, and returned to San Francisco on May 21. She departed Seattle, Washington, on June 2 to reinforce Okinawa, sailing via Honolulu, Eniwetok, and Ulithi. Lyon arrived off Okinawa on July 14 and was immediately forced out to sea by a typhoon. For two days her convoy was exposed to enemy submarine and kamikaze attacks, but the proximity of Admiral William Halsey, Jr.’s 3rd Fleet diverted potential attackers. She returned to Okinawa on July 21 and embarked veteran marines bound for Guam to prepare for the planned assault on the Japanese home islands. She returned to the west coast on August 14.

Lyon received five battle stars for World War II service.

After World War II

After two voyages to the Far East between August and November transporting occupation troops and returning veterans, Lyon arrived in San Francisco on February 3, 1946. She departed Oakland, California, on March 2 with 1,000 German prisoners of war bound for Liverpool, England, and returned to New York on April 12. She decommissioned on May 3, 1946 and was returned to her owners, the Moore-McCormack Lines, and her original name.

Mormactide remained under the ownership of Moore-McCormack Lines until 1966, when she was acquired by Grace Lines and renamed Santa Regina.


This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entries can be found here and here.

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