USS Cleburne (APA-73)

The USS Cleburne was a Gilliam-class attack transport that served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. It was named for Cleburne County, Arkansas, and Cleburne County, Alabama, both of which were named in honor of Confederate major general Patrick Cleburne.

The Gilliam class was designed to transport troops and materials close to shore during invasions. Small boats carried by the larger ship were used to land troops on shore. The ships of the class were 426 feet long and fifty-eight feet wide. With a top speed of seventeen knots, the ship utilized a crew of twenty-seven officers and 295 enlisted men. The ship could carry forty-seven officers and 802 enlisted men. Armed with a single five-inch dual-purposed mounted gun, four twin forty-millimeter mounts, and ten twenty-millimeter mounts, the ship could engage both surface and air targets.

The ship’s keel was laid down in April 1944 at Consolidated Steel Corporation in Wilmington, California. The ship was launched on September 27, 1944, and acquired by the navy from the Maritime Commission on December 21. It was commissioned the next day under the command of Lieutenant Commander Francis Callaghan.

The Cleburne traveled between the West Coast and Hawaii twice between February 12 and June 10, 1945. Each time, the ship took cargo to the combat theater and returned with passengers and wounded soldiers. On June 28, the Cleburne steamed from San Francisco, California, and unloaded men and supplies at Eniwetok; Guam; Ulithi; Okinawa, Japan; the Philippines; and Jinsen (Incheon), Korea. The ship arrived at Portland, Oregon, on November 13. On December 7, 1945, the Cleburne departed Portland for Shanghai and Tsingtao (Qingdao), China, and returned to San Francisco on February 13, 1946.

After steaming to Pearl Harbor, the Cleburne was decommissioned on June 7, 1946, and assigned to Operation Crossroads, the test of a nuclear bomb at Bikini Atoll. The ship survived the tests and was towed to San Francisco, where it was added to the National Defense Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay, California, on July 23, 1947. The Cleburne was scrapped on July 13, 1965.

For additional information:
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Vol. 2. Washington DC: Navy Department, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History Division, 1963.

David Sesser
Henderson State University

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