USS Sarasota (APA-204)
|Name:||USS Sarasota (APA-204)|
|Namesake:||Sarasota County, Florida|
|Yard number:||MCV No. 552|
|Laid down:||11 April 1944|
|Launched:||14 June 1944|
|Sponsored by:||Mrs Clayton L. Shaff|
|Acquired:||16 August 1944|
|Commissioned:||16 August 1944|
|Recommissioned:||2 February 1951|
|Decommissioned:||2 September 1955|
|Struck:||1 July 1966|
|Three battle stars for World War II service|
|Class and type:||Haskell-class attack transport|
|Tonnage:||150,000 cu. ft, 2,900 tons|
|Displacement:||6,873 t.(lt) 14,837 t.(fl)|
|Draft:||28 ft 1 in|
|Propulsion:||1 x Allis-Chalmers geared turbine, 2 x Babcock & Wilcox header-type boilers, 1 x propeller, designed shaft horsepower 8,500|
|Boats and landing|
|2 x LCM, 24 x LCVP, 1 x Captain's Gig|
|Capacity:||86 Officers 1,475 Enlisted|
|Crew:||56 Officers, 480 enlisted|
|Armament:||1 x 5"/38 caliber dual-purpose gun mount, 1 x quad 40mm gun mounts, 4 x twin 40mm gun mounts (Total of 12), 10 x single 20mm gun mounts|
|Notes:||MARCOM hull type VC2-S-AP5|
USS Sarasota (APA-204) was a Haskell-class attack transport that saw service with the US Navy in World War II, Korean War Era and after.
Sarasota was laid down under Maritime Commission contract (MCV hull 552) on 11 April 1944 by the Permanente Metals Corporation of Richmond, California; launched on 14 June 1944, acquired by the Navy on 16 August 1944 and commissioned the same day, Comdr. James I. MacPherson, USNR, in command.
- 1 Operational service
- 2 References
World War II
Following shakedown, Sarasota embarked Naval Construction Battalion units and departed California on 21 October. On 9 November, she arrived in Seeadler Harbor, Manus.
Explosion of the Mount Hood
The next day, ammunition ship USS Mount Hood carrying approximately 3,800 tons of ordnance material, exploded, causing damage to ships and men within 2,000 yards. Immediately afterward, Sarasota's small boats carried first aid parties to stricken ships and craft, and her sick bay took in more seriously wounded personnel for emergency treatment.
Invasion of Luzon
Two days later, the APA steamed to Hollandia and during the next week, transported troops and equipment to Biak, Mios Woendi, and Milne Bay - then returned to Manus. On the 27th, she sailed again, and after calling at Finschhafen, put into Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, to load units of the 2d Battalion, 129th Regimental Combat Team, 37th Infantry Division. Landing exercises at Lae followed; and, on 21 December, she returned to Manus to stage for the invasion of Luzon.
As flagship of Transport Division 8, Sarasota got underway with TU 79.3.3 on the 31st. On 8 January 1945, having survived Japanese kamikaze attacks, she approached her destination. On the 9th, she rode in Lingayen Gulf as her boats took the troops into "Crimson Beach" near the town of Lingayen.
After the landings, Sarasota steamed to Leyte, transferred casualties she had received from the beaches of Lingayen Gulf; and, on the 21st, loaded troops of the 34th Regimental Combat Team, 24th Infantry Division, in preparation for operation "Mike VII", the landing in Zambales Province, Luzon. On 26 January, Sarasota again sailed north. Three days later, she landed the assault troops on "Blue Beach", west of San Antonio, then departed the area.
Invasion of Okinawa
Returning to Leyte, she remained through February. In March, she embarked men and equipment of the 2d Battalion, 381st Regiment, 96th Infantry Division; conducted training operations, and, on the 27th steamed from Philippine waters. On 1 April, she stood off the Hagushi beaches of Okinawa as her LCMs and DUKWs (popularly pronounced "duck") landed the troops on the "White Beaches." Their equipment followed and, by the 4th, Sarasota had completed offloading. She then shifted to Kerama Retto, assisted in offloading the damaged attack transport USS Henrico and prepared for the assault on Ie Shima.
Invasion of Ie Shima (Considered a part of the Battle of Okinawa.)
(Iejima (伊江島) is an island in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan, lying a few kilometers off the Motobu Peninsula of Okinawa Honto.) On the 16th, she landed units of the 305th Regimental Combat Team on that island off the Motobu Peninsula. Manny Espinoza, Seaman, of the USS Sarasota was wounded on the Beach, and was awarded the Purple Heart Medal. U.S. journalist Ernie Pyle died there. There is a monument dedicated to his memory on the southern part of the island. Every year on the weekend closest to his death, April 18th, there is a memorial service.
Three days later, she returned to the Hagushi anchorage and, on the 22d, departed the Ryūkyūs for the Marianas.
At the end of April, Sarasota disembarked Okinawa casualties at Saipan. On 2 May, she sailed for the Solomons, whence she carried general cargo, Marines, Army hospitalmen, and Navy passengers to Guam. From there, she transported casualties to Pearl Harbor; then continued on to San Francisco.
After availability at Seattle, she embarked Army troops and, on 18 July, again headed for Okinawa. She arrived in the Hagushi anchorage on 12 August and began disembarking her reinforcement troops and, offloading her cargo. Three days later, hostilities ceased.
On the 29th, the APA shifted to Naha to load her first contingent of occupation troops, units of the XIV Corps. On 8 September, she disembarked those troops at Jinsen, Korea. On the 14th, she returned to Okinawa, whence on 1 October she delivered marines to Chinwangtao. Following offloading, she assumed station ship duties in the Tientsin-Taku area; and, at the end of November, she was reassigned to transport duties, this time with Operation Magic Carpet to carry servicemen back to the United States.
Sailing to Sasebo in early December, she embarked units of the 5th Marine Division and got underway for San Diego, arriving on the 24th. Between 9 January and 19 February 1946, she completed a second "Magic Carpet" run; then prepared for inactivation.
Post-World War II operations
In early March, she moved to San Francisco for overhaul; and in June, she was towed to Stockton, where she was decommissioned on 1 August and berthed with the 19th (Inactive) Fleet. Four years later, Sarasota was ordered activated. Recommissioned on 3 February 1951, she conducted training operations and underwent alterations into June.
On the 20th, she sailed for Panama; and, on 13 July, she arrived at Norfolk, Virginia, her new home port. For the remainder of 1951, the APA trained Marine Corps units in exercises off the east coast and in the Caribbean. With the new year, 1952, however, she sailed east, with units of the 8th Marines embarked, and for the next three and one-half months operated in the Mediterranean as a unit of the 6th Fleet.
10/15/2008 This portion of the U.S.S. Sarasota APA204 STORY is written by Glen V. Jensen RM2 USN, who was aboard January 4, 1952 through November 21, 1953.
1 9 5 2
Jan. 5-7 Army Piers, Norfolk, VA. Replenishing ship for sea. Jan. 8-9 Morehead City, NC. Embarked 3rd Battalion 8th Marines for Mediterranean tour of duty with the Sixth Fleet. Jan. 20 Passed through Straits of Gibraltar. Jan. 24 Arrived Naples, Italy. Relieving ceremonies. Were to be here one week. Jan. 26 Received orders to get underway at once. Left Naples. Jan. 28 Arrived Suda, Crete. Feb. 1 Received word, we were here due to an uprising in Cairo, Egypt. We are mounting guns on our landing craft in preparation. Feb. 6 Left Suda. The situation in Egypt has been controlled by Egyptian troops from Ismalia. Feb. 9 Arrive Naples, Italy. Re-provisioning ship for sea. Feb. 12 Departed Naples. Feb. 14 Arrived Taranto, Italy. Feb. 18 Departed Taranto for gunnery exercises with Italian Navy in the Ionian Sea. Feb. 21 Arrived Syracuse, Sicily. Feb. 25 Departed Syracuse to participate in Exercise Grand Slam 2-52. Is an exercise with British, French, and Italian Navy's. Feb. 28 Arrived off Oran, Algeria, North Africa. Rendezvoused with Fleet. Mar. 1 Arrived off Toulan, France. Mar. 4 Arrived Naples, Italy. Ending Grand Slam 2-52. Mar. 12 Departed Naples in preparation for Amphibious Training. Mar. 13-17 Porto Scudo, Sardinia. Participating in Amphibious Training Assault. Mar. 18-27 Palermo, Sicily. Mar. 28 Passed from Tyhrrenian Sea to Ionian Sea through Straits of Messina. Apr. 1-2 Suda and Canea, Crete. Apr. 3-9 Iraklion, Crete. Making Amphibious Training Assault. Apr. 10-16 Athens and Piraeus, Greece Apr. 18 Maleme Beach, Crete. Made amphibious assault. Apr. 22-27 Bierut, Lebanon. "Road to the Middle East." May 2-7 Cannes, France. May 7-8 Golfo Dell Asinara, Sardinia. Relieving Ceremonies. Relieved by Transport Div. 22. Detached from Sixth Fleet. Returned to Atlantic Second Fleet and to the U.S.
Relieved on 8 May, she returned to the United States and resumed amphibious training exercises off the east coast.
May 10 Passed through Straits of Gibraltar. May 20 Morehead City, NC. Disembarked Marine Troops. May 21 Arrived Norfolk. VA. June 18-28 Little Creek, Va. Operational Readiness Inspection. June 28-31 Norfolk, VA. July 3-7 Sarasota, FL. July 10-21 Norfolk, VA. July 21-31 Underway Cheapeake Bay for Naval Reserve Cruise. Aug. 1 Norfolk, Va. Embarked Naval Cadets. Aug. 2-4 Annapolis, MD. Disembarked cadets. Aug. 4-5 Norfolk, VA. Embarked Naval Cadets. Aug. 5-7 Annapolis, MD. Disembarked Cadets. Aug. 7-11 Norfolk, VA. Aug. 11-19 Underway North Atlantic on Exercise Phibex 53. Aug. 19-20 Morehead City, NC. Embarked Marine Troops. Aug. 20-21 Onslow Beach, NC. Amphibious Training assault. Left Marines on the beach. One man killed during the landing exercise. Aug. 22.26 Lynnhaven Roads, VA. Aug. 26 Arrived Norfolk, VA. Sept. 14 Left Norfolk, VA to work with Amphibious Test and Evaluating Unit. Oct. 12 Returned to Norfolk, VA to replenish ship for sea. Oct. 17 Left Norfolk. Oct. 22-23 Vieques Island, Caribbean Sea. Oct. 23-30 Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. Embarked Marine Troops. Nov. 4-7 Port Everglades, FL. Nov. 9-10 Morehead City, NC. Disembarked Marine Troops. Nov. 11 Norfolk, VA berthed at Pier 3. Dec. 9 Left Pier 3, Norfolk, VA. Dec. 9-31 545 Front St., Moon Shipyard, Norfolk, VA for Repairs. Dec. 31 Pier 3, Norfolk, VA. Replenishing ship for sea.
1 9 5 3
Jan. 8 Departed Norfolk, VA. Jan. 9-12 Morehead City, NC. Embarked Marine Troops. Jan. 15 San Juan, Puerto Rico. Anchored here to take an emergency appendectomy case, via small craft, ashore to Hospital. Jan. 16-18 Vieques Island. Disembarked Marine Troops. Jan. 21-24 Colon, Republic of Panama. Jan. 28 Arrived Great Harbor, Culebra Island, Caribbean. Feb. 7 Left Great Harbor. Feb. 7-8 Vieques Island. Embarked Marine Troops. Feb. 12-13 Morehead City, NC. Disembarked Marines. Feb. 14-21 Norfolk, VA. Feb. 23 Charleston, SC. 60 day Ship Overhaul Period. May 7 Departed Charleston. May 9 Arrived Army Piers, Norfolk, VA. May 11 Arrived N.O.B., Norfolk, VA. Tender and Upkeep period. June 9 Completed upkeep. Left Norfolk. June 13-26 Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Refresher Training. Spent 3/4 of the time at Sea while here, and the rest of the time at anchor. June 27-28 Kingston, Jamaica. June 29 Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. July 3 Left "Gtmo Bay". Refresher Training is over. July 5-8 Norfolk, VA. July 8-21 Little Creek, VA. Refresher Amphibious Training. July 22-26 Army Piers, Norfolk, VA. July 27-30 Underway Virginia Capes Area on Type Commanders Exercise. July 30 Norfolk, VA. Aug. 3-24 I was on leave. But while I was gone, the Sara' made a trip to Annapolis, MD. Also took Boy Scouts on a Cruise in the Chesapeake Bay, and rode out Hurricane Barbara! Not the Ship's first Hurricane, of course, but it was the Boy Scout's first! Aug. 24 Left Norfolk. With 200 Naval Reserves, and 100 other "passengers" aboard. Aug. 25 Morehead City, NC. Embarked Detachment of Marines. Aug. 27-31 New york City, NY. Disembarked passengers and Marines. Aug. 31 Earle, NJ. Embarked Cargo Handling Battalion One. Sept. 1 Norfolk, VA. Disembarked Cargo Handling Battalion One. Sept. 2-4 Little creek, VA. Sept. 4 Arrived Norfolk, VA. Sept. 5 Disembarked Naval Reserves. Sept. 7-8 Unloaded ammo. Sept. 9 Left Norfolk. Sept.10-26 Baltimore, MD. "Restricted Availability Period". Sept. 26 Norfolk, VA. Sept. 30 Commissioned Commander Transport division 25 aboard here. Oct. 5-9 Underway on Squadron Exercise 1-54. Two men were killed on this exercise. Oct. 9 Arrived Norfolk, VA, North How Anchorage. Oct. 12 Pier 3, Naval Base, Norfolk, VA. Oct. 16-21 Underway on Romex 2-54. Oct. 21 Norfolk, VA. Nov. 16 Left Norfolk on Squadron Exercises. Nov. 21 Arrived New York City, NY.
At this point I left the ship, and was Honorably Discharged at the Receiving Station in Brooklyn, NY on Dec. 3, 1953. For the rest of The USS Sarasota Story please see "USS SARASOTA APA204 FINAL YEARS"
Thank you, Glen V. Jensen RM2 USN Typed 12/4/2000 from my handwritten notes while aboard the U.S.S Sarasota.
From May to October 1954, she again deployed to the Mediterranean. That 6th Fleet tour was again followed by training exercises, including midshipman and reservist cruises; and, in April 1955, she arrived at Charleston, South Carolina to again commence inactivation.
USS SARASOTA APA-204 FINAL YEARS by Robert E. Lay, written Jan., 2004.
This history was initially provided by Glen Jensen. I filled in some additional information, primarily for the period from my arrival in mid-February 1953 until my departure in June 1955. R.E.Lay (Robert E. Lay's Informational comments end in R.E.L.)
Feb. 7, 1953 Left Great Harbor. Feb. 7-8 Vieques Island. Embarked Marine Troops. Feb. 12-13 Morehead City, NC. Disembarked Marines. Feb. 14-21 Norfolk, VA. Feb. 23 Charleston, SC. 60 day Ship Overhaul Period.
[At this time my wife and I had an 8th floor Darlington Apartments at King & Meeting Streets. We eventually moved the ship into drydock and had our tailshaft and propellor removed. The tailshaft is tapered and is the last piece of the shaft coming out of the reduction gear. The propellor is screwed onto the end of the tailshaft and held on with a large nut. In the shop where they took the old tailshaft, we could see a helical crack going around the shaft that was wide enough you could put your whole hand into it. The tailshaft was replaced. We did not have enough money in the budget to get the ship painted and there were not enough hands aboard to do the job ourselves. Our Cumshaw specialist, Zazzaro was able to acquire enough medical alcohol through bartering to get shipyard workers to work after hours on painting the ship. Almost everyone available was assigned to Firewatches, because of the large amount of welding going on everywhere. The big job in the Radio and ET spaces was the installation of a switching panel that interconnected all antennas, operating positions and radio transmitters and receivers. R.E.L.]
[While in Charleston, a couple of us junior officers were sent aboard an AK for its sea trials. The objective was to familiarize us with what happens during sea trials so that we would be ready when it was time for the Sarasota to have her sea trials. Unfortunately, the skipper of the AK ran his ship aground on the return trip up the Cooper River. So, we got a bit more education on what not to do than we had planned on. R.E.L.]
[Another problem that was supposed to be corrected in the shipyard was a problem with the downcomers. These are the air passages that feed air to the oil fired furnace. The incoming air is pre-heated by being passed through a heat exchanger which is heated by exhaust stack gasses. There are fans that force the air through these passages and there has been an unexplained vibration in this area for some time. The yard was unable to do anything about that problem due to its lower priority. This problem was resolved later at Maryland Drydock. R.E.L.]
May 7 Departed Charleston. May 9 Arrived Army Piers, Norfolk, VA. May 11 Arrived N.O.B., Norfolk, VA. Tender and Upkeep period. June 9 Completed upkeep. Left Norfolk. June 13-26 Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Refresher Training. Spent 3/4 of the at Sea while here, and the rest of the time at anchor. June 27-28 Kingston, Jamaica. June 29 Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. July 3 Left "Gtmo Bay". Refresher Training is over. July 5-8 Norfolk, VA. July 8-21 Little Creek, VA. Refresher Amphibious Training. July 22-26 Army Piers, Norfolk, VA. July 27-30 Underway Virginia Capes Area on Type Commanders Exercise. July 30 Norfolk, VA. Aug. 3-24 I was on leave. But while I was gone, the Sara' made a trip to Annapolis, MD. Also took Boy Scouts on a Cruise in the Chesapeake Bay, and rode out Hurricane Barbara! Not the Ship's first Hurricane, of course, but it was the Boy Scout's first! Aug. 24 Left Norfolk. With 200 Naval Reserves, and 100 other "passengers" aboard. Aug. 25 Morehead City, NC. Embarked Detachment of Marines. Aug. 27-31 New york City, NY. Disembarked passengers and Marines. Aug. 31 Earle, NJ. Embarked Cargo Handling Battalion One. Sept. 1 Norfolk, VA. Disembarked Cargo Handling Battalion One. Sept. 2-4 Little creek, VA. Sept. 4 Arrived Norfolk, VA. Sept. 5 Disembarked Naval Reserves. Sept. 7-8 Unloaded ammo.
- Up a River to Unload Ammo. I can't remember where we were or when this was, but it must be during the period Feb 1953 to May 1955 and somewhere in the mid-Atlantic coastal area. We were sent up some river to unload ammunition. I am sure it was not the York River to Yorktown, because that is a big river. This river was so narrow that we just barely could pass another ship. I seem to remember that we did pass another ship at one point. It must have been in the Carolinas or in Virginia, and I think it was just prior to going to Baltimore in mid September 1953. The river was so narrow that it was more like a canal. [R.E.L]
Sept. 9 Left Norfolk. Sept.10-26 Baltimore, MD. "Restricted Availability Period".
- Maryland Drydock, Baltimore. In late September 1953 we were in Maryland Drydock trying to get a problem with downcomers fixed. I believe that the problem was resolved but I don't know what repairs were made. See mention of this problem as we left the shipyard at Charleston in May 1953. [R.E.L]
Sept. 26 Norfolk, VA. Sept. 30 Commissioned Commander Transport division 25 aboard here. Oct. 5-9 Underway on Squadron Exercise 1-54. Two men were killed on this exercise. Oct. 9 Arrived Norfolk, VA, North How Anchorage. Oct. 12 Pier 3, Naval Base, Norfolk, VA. Oct. 16-21 Underway on Romex 2-54. Oct. 21 Norfolk, VA. Nov. 16 Left Norfolk on Squadron Exercises. Nov. 21 Arrived New York City, NY. Per Glen Jensen's files we docked here on West side. He was then transferred to Brooklyn Receiving station for Discharge.
DATES & EVENTS CONTINUE BY ROBERT E. LAY
[I have no recollection of the Sarasota going to New York around Thanksgiving of 1953. Where would I have been - in school? on leave? R.E.L.]
Caribbean Operations, February 1954:
- Visited San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Conducted Exercises off Vieques
- Visited Ciudad Trujillo, Dominican Republic
- Spring of 1954 - Visited Miami, Florida
- May 3, 1954 Departed Norfolk, VA
- May 4, 1954 Arrived, Morehead City, NC As liberty began that evening, there was a light mist or drizzle just beginning. Carl Monser, Warrant RELE, decided that he needed a rain cover as he went down the gangway. From somewhere, he dredged up one of those plastic refrigerator bowl covers with an elastic that he could wear like a French Beret. That did it. The troops went crazy! [R.E.L]
- May 7, 1954 Departed for the Mediterranean Actual first landing was at Arzew, near Oran, in North Africa. We did a "warm-up" attack on the beach there with a few of our LCVP's. [R.E.L]
- May 19, 1954 Arrived at Algiers, Algeria
- May 24, 1954 Fleet Exercises off Sardinia.
- May 29, 1954 Arrived Naples, Italy This was an exciting arrival. The first really big liberty port. The skipper, Captain Payson, allowed the Italian pilot to bring the ship in to a Mediterranean mooring. That was an education in itself. The pilot had command of two tugs, which assisted. While we were still way out from the end of the pier to which we would tie up, The pilot asked for us to let go the anchor, which we did after some major fumbling. No one was expecting that we would drop an anchor out in the middle of the Bay of Naples, but that's the way it's done. Then, swinging on the anchor and with the assistance of our own engine and the tugs, we swung around in a 180 and started paying out anchor chain as we backed up towards the pier. Once we were close enough to the pier, we threw out stern lines and made fast to the end of the pier. It was explained that moored in this way allowed us to leave in a hurry with no assistance. Naples offered some interesting entertainment. There was a USO party that featured Sophie Tucker, which I attended - great show! [R.E.L]
- Jun 3, 1954 Fleet Exercises off Sardinia
- Jun 9, 1954 Arrived at Hyeres, France
- Jun 17, 1954 Fleet Exercises (Firing)
- Jun 23, 1954 Arrived Cagliari Sardinia. We also had liberty call in Cagliari.
- Jun 28, 1954 Fleet Exercises (Firing)
- Jul 3, 1954 Arrived Genoa, Italy.
- Jul 9, 1954 Arrived Golfe Juan, France. We were blessed by a visit from a Paris garment and fashion clothes manufacturer who brought several models to model the clothes and put on quite a show on the #2 Hatch cover. The girls didn't know that the real audience was below on the mess deck! [R.E.L]
- Jul 15, 1954 Fleet Exercises Arzew, North Africa
- Fire in the Incinerator! Late one afternoon in the middle of our Med Cruise, two junior officers from the Operations Department decided to burn the registered pubs that were scheduled for destruction. They went to the incinerator room, unlocked the door, built a fire in the incinerator and burned all the pubs that were to be destroyed. While they were raking the ashes to make sure everything was properly burned, the evening meal in the Wardroom was announced and the two officers secured the incinerator room with its padlock and went to dinner. During the meal, everyone noticed smoke coming from the ventilation system and the Fire Party was called away - Fire in the Incinerator!. ChCarp Shaw led the fire party and it was a difficult blaze to put down because of the difficulty in opening the burning hot padlocked door in a narrow passageway. Once the fire was out and all was secured, the two officers took their paperwork on the destruction of the registered pubs to the skipper to be signed. The fire was blamed on the fact that a lot of trash had been allowed to accumulate in the Incinerator Room. [R.E.L]
- Jul 23, 1954 Arrived Naples, Italy On this second visit to Naples, we had a change of command ceremony with Captain David Whelchel relieving Captain Hal Payson. The ceremony was most impressive with all hands in Dress Whites. Tours to Rome were available to the crew. [R.E.L]
- Night Exercises with Darken Ship and No RADAR! Somewhere in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, on a dark night with no moon, our task force conducted a night exercise in zig-zagging with darken ship, no RADAR, and only a shaded blue stern lamp on each ship. The formation was a circle of about 10 ships, and the Sarasota had a position at the very back end of the circle. I believe it was the Marquette that was stationed about 1000 yards to our right, and I think the circle had a diameter of something over 2000 yards. The zig-zag pattern was initiated on voice command over the Primary Tactical radio and was a pattern pre-determined from a publication specifically set up for that exercise, so everyone knew what we were going to be doing in advance. Everyone recognized that this was a dangerous exercise. Everything went very smoothly through the preliminary procedures of getting all the ships to completely darken ship while still maintaining RADAR contact on a steady course. Then we were to secure our RADARS and finally we were to begin the zig-zag pattern on command. Everything went well on the first leg of the pattern. You could only see the other ships by finding their silhouettes on the horizon in your binoculars. It was late in the evening watch - about 6 bells. You could see one or two of the very dim blue lights on the sterns of the ships way ahead. At the next leg we turned right on the time mark, and everything looked OK for the first minute. Then, the OOD realized that he was seeing the superstructure of another ship crossing directly in front of us! That should not be! The skipper, Captain Whelchel, was in CIC, and he had one hand on the switch for the B+ of the RADAR transmitter. As soon as the OOD sounded the collision alarm and called for all back full, the skipper turned on the RADAR. He could see exactly what had happened immediately. All ships turned on their lights and everyone could see that the Marquette had crossed our bow by turning left when she should have turned right. Nobody on the bridge was allowed to be relieved by the mid-watch until things calmed down. It was quite an exciting evening. [R.E.L]
- The "Follow Me!" Incident Somewhere in the Mediterranean we were steaming in company with the flagship and several other ships. We had been given a "heads up" several hours earlier by radio dispatch, that Sarasota and two other ships would be refueling at sea on this day. The Task Force Commander raised a flag hoist addressed specifically to NPNM (the Sarasota's call sign) which ordered us to take station 1000 yards astern of the guide. A previous flag hoist to all ships designated a specific, other ship to be the guide. As soon as we acknowledged the message for us to take position astern of the guide, the flagship veered off from the rest of the group with another flag hoist, addressed to all ships, indicating that we should disregard her movements. Unfortunately, the radio dispatch about refueling at sea was delayed for some inexplicable reason and did not arrive until the flag hoist events took place. Once the ship's watch officers reviewed all of the messages, it became apparent that the flag ship had issued an incorrect flag hoist. It should have told us to take station on the flagship - not the guide. The skipper decided that he was going to follow the message as sent and acknowledged, although he seemed to appreciate the dilemma. It was rather embarrassing that when we finally decided to go rendezvous with the oiler that we were quite late. [R.E.L]
- Stretched lines during Refueling! In the 1954 Med Cruise Book, on page 22, there is a picture taken while we are alongside an oiler, refueling at sea. I'm not sure, but I think the oiler was the Elokomin. What transpired was a near calamity, We had a steering difficulty that caused us to begin veering off to port, stretching all the lines to the limit. Eventually, all of the rigging parted, destroying or losing various pieces of hose and other running gear relative to refueling operations. Later, we received a bill for a few thousand dollars worth of damage to the oiler's rigging. At the time this event occurred, it was never determined exactly what caused the problem. It could have been poor seamanship or poor judgement, but later events would strongly suggest that it was a defective gyro system. [R.E.L]
- Jul 29, 1954 Fleet Exercises (Firing)
- Aug 3, 1954 Arrived Palma, Mallorca. The Spanish island of Mallorca is very large, and its capital city, Palma has a very impressive Cathedral. There were opportunities for tours to Madrid.
- Aug 9, 1954 Fleet Exercises (Medseadex)
- Aug 19, 1954 Arrived Phaleron Bay, Greece. Everyone took advantage of the opportunity to visit the many famous ruins, including the Parthenon and the Acropolis.
- Aug 25, 1954 Arrived Izmir, Turkey. We had the good fortune to be in Izmir at a time when there was a large trade fair going on. The Russians had the largest exhibit of any country. They took special delight in turning on their movie lights and rolling the cameras whenever the sailors came through admiring the furs and other Russian articles on display.
- Aug 30, 1954 Fleet Exercises (Keystone)
- Sep 10, 1954 Arrive Marseilles, France. Opportunities were available for tours to Paris.
- Sep 20, 1954 Enroute to Morehead City, NC
- Oct 1, 1954 Arrived Morehead City, NC. Disembarked troops.
- Oct 15, 1954 Rode out Hurricane Hazel in the Hurricane Anchorage in Chesapeake bay just off Annapolis. The waves were so deep that you could see the bottom in the wave troughs.
[I was promoted to LTJG in Dec 1954. It was about this time that I made a trip to BuPers to plead my case for cancellation of my orders to transfer to the staff of a COMTRANSDIV that was to be put together in the Mediterranean. Captain Whelchel met me at BuPers and said he would put in a good word for me. That led to my receiving a message saying "ORDCAN CONPRESDU". Later I received orders to duty at the Naval Academy as an instructor. R.E.L]
- Gyro Goes Berserk! - somewhere in the Caribbean we had anchored in some out-of-the-way lagoon. I don't remember why we were there, but there was little or nothing going on. It was a very small lagoon, not much more than 2 miles across. I don't think we had gone ashore there - it was just a very small nondescript village. It was a very routine morning of weighing anchor and getting underway to somewhere. As soon as the anchor broke free and was straight up-and-down, the next cut taken by the navigation watch showed that something was terrible wrong. We had an ideal navigation situation. There were prominent landmarks spaced evenly all around and all were easily identified on the chart, because it was a bright sunny day with perfect visibility. The special sea and anchor detail were all at their stations, so the best people were on the peloruses port and starboard and the navigator had a perfect fix on our anchorage. Nonetheless, as the anchor came up, our navigational position suddenly changed dramatically. We were no longer getting our bearings to cross at a point - they were crossing in a giant triangle. Every indication was that the gyro had tumbled or the gyro repeaters were not working properly. The sensible thing to do was to anchor again and sort it out. We did not have enough deep water around us for any big navigational errors. Later, after conducting an investigation of the IC room and interviewing all watch standers it was concluded that the Sarasota had a serious weakness in her electrical system, such that the IC room's voltage regulators were not able to correct for the voltage drop caused by the winches when weighing anchor. This could easily account for the problem we had had during the refueling operation. The Sarasota's main plant was an all DC electrical system. The only 400 HZ electrical power being generated was from a DC Motor Driven Alternator that got its power from the main DC Generator. In other words, when the DC main dropped below a certain voltage, the AC Generator was no longer able to produce AC power within specifications, and the AC voltage also dropped. The IC room had its own regulators that were supposed to keep the main Gyro powered up even when the AC mains fell below specification. Unfortunately, that did not work out in practice in those rare situations where the DC system was heavily loaded. [R.E.L]
- Firefighting School at Charleston Naval Shipyard. (Spring of 1955) The junior officers were sent to Firefighting School at Charleston Naval Shipyard in order to give us something to do while the ship is in drydock. I was sent to learn how to fight an oil fire using the appropriate nozzle. It was a great experience and it showed me that with the proper equipment and teamwork you could put out a fire under very difficult conditions. [R.E.L]
- Courts Martial duties at Charleston Naval Shipyard. (Spring of 1955) I was sent to the JAG office at Charleston Naval Shipyard to learn the UCMJ and to learn how to serve on Court Martial Boards. We participated in mock trials that gave us some idea how to prosecute a case or to act as defense council in a case and how to judge cases as a member of the court. It was a good experience, but, fortunately, I never had to actually be involved in a real case. [R.E.L]
- The Chronometer Stops! While in Charleston Naval Shipyard but prior to actually being decommissioned, the number of people on board steadily diminished until there were very few left to do the work. As a consequence, some things that are taken for granted in the daily routine suffered. The traditional winding of the Chronometer is the sacred duty of the quartermaster of the watch, and its is traditional that the Navigator reports to the Captain at Noon every day that the ship's Chronometer has been wound. Well, it was my sad duty, as Navigator, to have to go back to the Captain and report that no, the Chronometer had not been wound, and furthermore, it had stopped. [R.E.L]
[We lived in an apartment just outside the Shipyard at Charleston, SC from the time of our arrival for drydocking, which must have been at least as early as April 1955. R.E.L.]
[I was detached from the Sarasota in June 1955 and took up my new job as an instructor at the Naval Academy]
Written by Robert E. Lay, LTJG, USS Sarasota, APA204, January 2004
Decommissioned on 2 September 1955, she remained in reserve until transferred to the Maritime Administration in June 1966. Her name was struck from the Navy List on 1 July. In 1974, Sarasota was still in the custody of the Maritime Administration, berthed in the James River as a unit of the National Defense Reserve Fleet.
There appears to be some confusion as to the fate of this ship. In one Navy Vessel Register, she is listed as being disposed of in target practice on 1 November 1979. In another, she is listed as being disposed of by the Maritime Administration on 1 May 1982.
Following inserted by Glen Jensen, RM2, USN 10-15-2008 Crew member of the USS Sarasota (APA-204) 1952-1953:
She was turned over to MARAD in 1960 and assigned to the James River Reserve Fleet. In 1983 she was exchanged for another ship, and then later in 1983 she was sold to a Spanish Corporation for scrapping. Her last voyage was across the Atlantic to Spain. We hope the remains of the USS Sarasota (APA-204) are in some High-Rise on the Spanish Coast over looking one of her favorite places - THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA!
"SARASOTA, Trade-Out scrap ship sold to Waterman Steamship Corporation under ship Exchange Contract for Thomas Nelson, Contract No. MA-11377, dated 8-1-83. Ship resold to Balbao Desquaces Maritimos S. A. [A Spanish Corporation] under Contract No, MA-11378, dated 8-1-83, Ship to be scrapped in Spain. Delivered to buyer 11-15-83. "
Sarasota earned 3 battle stars during World War II.
Following inserted by Glen Jensen, RM2, USN 10-15-2008 Crew member of the USS Sarasota (APA-204) 1952-1953:
USS SARASOTA APA-204 MEDALS & CAMPAIGNS (Brief):
In order of precedence: CHINA SERVICE MEDAL (WWII). AMERICAN CAMPAIGN MEDAL(WWII). ASIATIC PACIFIC CAMPAIGN MEDAL (3) (WWII): 1) Luzon operation: Lingayen Gulf Landing; 9 January 1945, 2) Manila Bay-Bicol Operation; Zambales-Subic Bay, 29 January 1945. 3) Okinawa-Pacific Campaign: Assault and Occupation of Okinawa Gunto; April to 7 May 1945. WORLD WAR II VICTORY MEDAL (WWII). NAVY OCCUPATION SERVICE MEDAL (2) 1) With Asia Clasp - WWII). 2) With Europe Clasp - Korean War). NATIONAL DEFENSE SERVICE MEDAL (Korean War). PHILIPPINE LIBERATION MEDAL (WWII). COLD WAR MEDAL (Not awarded yet-Being Discussed) COLD WAR COMMEMORATIVE MEDAL COLD WAR VICTORY COMMEMORATIVE MEDAL
(Detail) In Order of Precedence - Criteria:
CHINA SERVICE MEDAL (WWII).
Was awarded to Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard personnel who:
-- Served ashore in China or who were attached to any of the vessels that operated in support of the operations in China between July 7, 1937, and September 7, 1939; or who
-- Served ashore in China or were attached to any of the vessels that operated in support of operations in China between September 2, 1945 and April 1, 1957. Military services performed in the Asiatic-Pacific area between September 2, 1945 and March 2, 1946 could be credited for eligibility for the China Service Medal unless the individual was eligible for the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal based on service performed prior to September 2, 1945.
AMERICAN CAMPAIGN MEDAL(WWII).
Was awarded for thirty days service outside the Continental United States but within the American Theater of Operations between December 7, 1941, and March 2, 1946; or, an aggregate service of one year within the Continental United States during the same period under the following circumstances:
-- On permanent assignment outside the continental limits of the United States; or,
-- On permanent assignment as a member of a crew of a vessel sailing ocean waters for a period of 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days; or,
-- For service outside the continental limits of the United States in a passenger status or on temporary duty for 30 consecutive days or 60 non consecutive days; or,
-- For service in active combat against the enemy and awarded a combat decoration or furnished a recognition by the commanding general of a corps, higher unit, or independent force that the individual actually participated in combat; or,
-- For service within the continental limits of the United States for an aggregate period of one year.
ASIATIC PACIFIC CAMPAIGN MEDAL (3) (WWII):
1. Luzon operation: Lingayen Gulf Landing; 9 January 1945, 2. Manila Bay-Bicol Operation; Zambales-Subic Bay, 29 January 1945. 3. Okinawa-Pacific Campaign: Assault and Occupation of Okinawa Gunto; April 1 to 7 May 1945.
Was awarded for qualifying service within the Asiatic-Pacific Theater of Operations between December 7, 1941, and March 2, 1946, under any of the following conditions:
-- On permanent assignment within the Asiatic-Pacific Theater; or,
-- For service in a passenger status or on temporary duty for 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days; or,
-- For service in active combat in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater of Operations against the enemy and awarded a combat decoration or furnished a recognition by the commanding general of a corps, higher unit, or independent force that the individual actually participated in combat.
WORLD WAR II VICTORY MEDAL (WWII).
May be awarded to all members of the Armed Forces of the United States or of the Government of the Philippine Islands who served on active duty in World War II at any time between 7 December 1941 and 31 December 1946, both dates inclusive. (Established by Public Law No. 135 of 6 July 1945.)
NAVY OCCUPATION SERVICE MEDAL (2) (With Asia Clasp - WWII) (Europe - Korean War).
Was awarded for military service of thirty or more consecutive days of duty in one of the occupied territories after World War II. The Navy Occupation Service Medal has two clasps: EUROPE and ASIA. Appropriate clasps marked “Europe” and “Asia” are authorized to be attached to the suspension ribbon of the large medal only to denote service in the respective area. No distinctive device to denote these clasps is authorized for wear on the ribbon bar.
NATIONAL DEFENSE SERVICE MEDAL (Est. 1953).
Dates: 1950-54, 1961-74, 1990-95, 2001-TBD Criteria: Any honorable active duty service during any of the those periods.
PHILIPPINE LIBERATION MEDAL (WWII).
Was awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the U.S. Armed Forces, and recognized guerrilla units by the Philippine Government for service of at least 30 days in the liberation of the Philippines from October 17, 1944 to September 3, 1945.
COLD WAR MEDAL
(Not awarded yet) For service in the armed forces of any Allied nation between 2 September 1945 and 26 December 1991. Recognition Certificate Application Form is available at: http://www.amervets.com/cold2.htm#isr
COLD WAR COMMEMORATIVE MEDAL
Cold War Era ELIGIBILITY PERIOD: For Army, Air Force, Marine, Navy, Coast Guard Service between 2 September 1945 through 26 December 1991. Recognition Certificate Application Form is available at: http://www.amervets.com/cold2.htm#isr
COLD WAR VICTORY COMMEMORATIVE MEDAL:
Cold War Era ELIGIBILITY PERIOD: For Army, Air Force, Marine, Navy, Coast Guard Service between 2 September 1945 through 26 December 1991
OVERSEAS SERVICE COMMEMORATIVE MEDAL:
To honor all Service Members who served in an Overseas Theatre outside the United States for 30 days or more.
SEA SERVICE COMMEMORATIVE MEDAL:
To honor all Navy, Marines and Coast Guard Members who have had continuous duty at Sea for over 30 days.
- Sarasota (APA-204), DANFS Online
- APA-204 Sarasota, Navsource Online
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