USS Polk County (LST-1084)
The USS Polk County (LST-1084) was an LST-542 Class tank landing ship built in 1944 that saw service at the end of World War II and in Korea and Vietnam. It was designated the USS Polk County on July 1, 1955, in honor of counties in twelve U.S. states, including Arkansas.
LST-1084 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-1084 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-1084’s keel was laid down on November 27, 1944, by the American Bridge Company of Ambridge, Pennsylvania, and launched on January 19, 1945. LST-1084 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 men, and could transport sixteen officers and 147 soldiers. LST-1084 was armed with two twin 40mm guns, four single 40mm guns and twelve single 20mm guns. The vessel was commissioned on February 19, 1945, under the command of Lieutenant Lawrence E. Prehn.
After a shakedown cruise (a test of the ship’s performance) in the Gulf of Mexico, LST-1084 sailed for the Pacific Theater on May 17, 1945. As part of Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet, the vessel moved cargo from Pearl Harbor to U.S. forces in the Marshall, Mariana, and Ryukyu Islands. Returning to San Francisco, California, on January 20, the LST was sent to Vancouver, Washington, and decommissioned on August 13, 1946, joining the Columbia River Group of the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
It was recommissioned on November 3, 1950, for service in the Korean War. LST-1084 served Korean tours from May 16, 1951, to March 12, 1952, and from February 7 to October 23, 1953, transporting men and equipment between Japan and Korea and along the Korean coast. Named the USS Polk County on July 1, 1955, the vessel provided transport and training for the First Fleet in Hawaii and along the California coast and later with the Seventh Fleet in Japan and the Philippines. In August 1957, the Polk County survived sailing through the eye of Hurricane Agnes.
Between October 1960 and February 1961, the Polk County was overhauled, resuming operations along the California coast in May. The vessel provided logistical support for Joint Task Force 8 in 1962 as it conducted the Operation Dominic nuclear tests, including one code-named Arkansas. The Polk County alternated operations between California and the Pacific through December 1965, then spent six months training with U.S. Army units in Hawaii before heading for Vietnam with the Seventh Fleet.
Arriving there on January 14, 1966, the USS Polk County delivered equipment, ammunition, and supplies to Chu Lai and Da Nang before returning to California on May 15. It returned to Vietnam on July 28, 1967, making cargo runs to Chu Lai and Cua Viet for Naval Support Activity, Da Nang in addition to journeys to the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan. The Polk County sailed back to San Diego, California, on December 21 for training operations along the California coast. It returned to Vietnam on November 4, 1968, delivering supplies along the northern coast of South Vietnam before a final run to San Diego on May 29, 1969. The USS Polk County was decommissioned in October 1969, into the Pacific Reserve Fleet’s San Diego Group, having won four battle stars each for service in Korea and four campaign stars for service in Vietnam. The USS Polk County was struck from the navy list on September 15, 1974, and the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service sold it for scrap on December 1, 1975.
For additional information:
“LST-1084 Polk County.” Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. https://www.hazegray.org/danfs/amphib/lst1084.txt (accessed June 13, 2018).
Rottman, Gordon L. Landing Ship, Tank (LST) 1942–2002. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing Co., 2005.
“USS Polk County (LST-1084).” NavSource.com. http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/16/161084.htm (accessed June 13, 2018).
Mark K. Christ
Little Rock, Arkansas
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