USS Ouachita County (LST-1071)
The USS Ouachita County was a Landing Ship, Tank (LST), operated by the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Korean War. Known as LST-1071 for most of its career, it was renamed in honor of Ouachita County, Arkansas, on July 1, 1955.
The keel of the ship was laid down on February 13, 1945, at Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard in Hingham, Massachusetts. Launched on March 14, 1945, the ship was commissioned on April 9 under the command of Lieutenant W. C. Scott.
The Ouachita County was an LST-542 class ship, which was a subset of the LST (2) class. The ships were designed to unload tanks and other heavy equipment by landing directly onshore and using large bow doors as ramps to drive vehicles directly onto land. The Ouachita County measured 328 feet long and fifty feet wide. The ship was designed to have a shallow draft; when fully loaded, the bow drew just over eight feet, while the stern drew around fourteen. The vessel was armed with a variety of weapons to offer protection from air, sea, and land assaults. These included two twin forty-millimeter guns, four single forty-millimeter guns, and twelve single twenty-millimeter guns. Thirteen to sixteen officers led a crew of 104 to 147 enlisted men.
After a “shakedown” cruise (a test or trial cruise) in Chesapeake Bay, LST-1071 steamed to New York, where it picked up troops and a Landing Craft, Tank (LCT), an amphibious assault craft used to land tanks. On May 27, 1945, LST-1071 began its journey to the Pacific. Unloading its cargo at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, LST-1071 took on another LCT and construction troops before steaming to Guam. The ship was at Guam when the war ended.
LST-1071 transported part of the Fifth Air Force to Tokyo, Japan, arriving on September 14. Taking more units of the Fifth Air Force to Okinawa, LST-1071 next transported part of the Ninth Army Corps from Leyte to Japan. LST-1071 continued to transport troops and goods around Japan until December 27, 1945, when the ship was ordered to San Diego, California, arriving on February 5, 1946. On February 10, LST-1071 moved to San Francisco, California, and on February 25 to Portland, Oregon. The ship was decommissioned on June 10 and placed in the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
LST-1071 was recommissioned on January 3, 1951, under the command of Lieutenant Joseph Sullivan. Operating along the West Coast for several months, LST-1071 steamed to Norfolk, Virginia, arriving on June 15, 1951. On the East Coast, the ship conducted amphibious training exercises in Virginia and other states, as well as Puerto Rico. The ship also made several trips to Labrador and Newfoundland. The ship was officially renamed the USS Ouachita County on July 1, 1955.
The USS Ouachita County moved to Brooklyn, New York, in November 1955 to be decommissioned again. Moving to Cove Springs, Florida, the ship was officially decommissioned on February 15, 1956. Added to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, the USS Ouachita County was removed from the Naval Register on November 1, 1959. In 1962, the Foss Launch and Tug Company of Seattle, Washington, registered her as the 3,384-ton freight barge Foss 210. In 1968, Donald Oline of Tacoma, Washington, registered her as the 2,796-ton freight barge BMC 200. The Dillingham Corporation of Seattle registered her as the 2,796-ton freight barge Foss 210 in 1970, and the Foss Launch and Tug Company registered her under that same name in 1973. There is no further documentation of the vessel after 1984..
For additional information:
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Vol. 5. Washington DC: Navy Department, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History Division, 1970.
Williams, Greg S. World War II U.S. Navy Vessels in Private Hands. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2013.
Henderson State University
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