USS Lincoln County (LST-898)
The USS Lincoln County (LST-898) was an LST-542 Class tank landing ship built in 1944 that saw service in the Pacific Theater of World War II and in the Korean War. It was designated the USS Lincoln County on July 15, 1955, in honor of counties in twenty-four U.S. states, including Arkansas.
LST-898 was one of a class of vessels—called Landing Ship, Tank—created to carry tanks, wheeled and tracked vehicles, artillery, construction equipment, and supplies during military operations along coastal areas. Called “Large Slow Targets” by their crews, they were designed as shallow-draft vessels; when carrying a 500-ton load, LST-898 drew only three feet eleven inches forward and nine feet ten inches aft. They carried pontoons amidships that could be used to create causeways when they had to debark their cargos from deeper water, but they were capable of dropping their forward ramps directly onto a beach.
LST-898’s keel was laid down on October 15, 1944, by the Dravo Corporation of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the ship was launched on November 25, 1944. LST-898 weighed 1,625 tons, was 328 feet long and fifty feet wide, and could reach speeds of 11.6 knots. It carried a crew of thirteen officers and 104 enlisted men and could transport sixteen officers and 147 soldiers. LST-898 was armed with two twin 40mm guns, four single 40mm guns, and twelve single 20mm guns. It was commissioned on December 29, 1944, under the command of Lieutenant D. W. Kallock.
The ship had its shakedown cruise (test of the ship’s performance) off the Florida coast before heading to New Orleans, Louisiana, for a load of cargo, leaving there on February 4, 1945, for the Pacific Theater, arriving at Majuro in the Marshall Islands on March 12. LST-898 then sailed to Saipan to prepare for the attack on Okinawa, leaving there on April 12 to deliver cargo at Chima Wan on Okinawa. The vessel transported troops and materials in the Philippines, the Marianas, and Okinawa for the duration of the war. After Japan surrendered, LST 898 carried occupation troops and equipment to the Japanese mainland until late November 1945. From December 1945 to February 1946, it was tasked with assisting in dismantling U.S. Army bases in the Philippines.
LST-898 was decommissioned in the Philippines on May 9, 1946, and turned over to the U.S. Army for cargo operations, but it was returned to the navy on June 1, 1950, as the Korean War broke out, running cargo from Japan to Korea. It was recommissioned on August 28, 1950, and ordered to load troops and equipment for the Inchon landings. LST-898 sailed for Korea on September 10 and participated in the landing on September 15, taking aboard wounded U.S. Marines while using guns against North Korean positions. It continued supporting operations at Inchon until mid-October.
When China entered the war, the vessel first moved marines north and then evacuated civilians and marines from Hungnan and Wonsan to Pusan from October to the end of December. From then until late April 1951, LST-898 made supply runs between Japan and Korea. The veteran ship reached San Diego, California, on May 21 for a needed overhaul, after which it returned to Yokosuka, Japan, on April 3, 1952, to transport troops and gear to South Korea.
After returning to San Diego on November 16, LST-898 spent the summer of 1953 carrying cargo to the naval base at Point Barrow, Alaska. For the next two years, it carried supplies to navy installations in the Pacific and conducted amphibious training along the West Coast. On July 15, 1955, it was named the USS Lincoln County, and from 1955 to 1960 it had three tours with the Seventh Fleet, making one supply run to the Arctic to support army crews manning the U.S. Distant Early Warning line.
The USS Lincoln County was again decommissioned on March 24, 1961, having earned one World War II battle star and six battle stars for Korean service. On August 31, 1962, it was given to Thailand under the Military Assistance Program and designated the Chang (LST-2). It was later put into use as a fire training hulk at Royal Thai Base Sattahip. It was scuttled on November 22, 2012, to make an artificial reef for scuba diving.
For additional information:
“LST 898 Lincoln County.” https://www.hazegray.org/danfs/amphib/lst898.htm (accessed December 4, 2018).
Rottman, Gordon L. Landing Ship, Tank (LST) 1942–2002. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing Co., 2005.
“USS Lincoln County (LST-898).” NavSource Online. http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/16/160898.htm (accessed December 4, 2018).
Mark K. Christ
Little Rock, Arkansas
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