USS Mount McKinley (AGC-7)
| USS Mount McKinley (AGC-7) |
|Laid down:||31 July 1943|
|Launched:||27 September 1943|
|Commissioned:||1 May 1944|
|Fate:||Sold for scrap in 1979|
|Length:||459 ft 2 in (140 m)|
|Beam:||63 ft (19.2 m)|
|Speed:||15 knots (31 km/h)|
|Armament:||1 × 5"/38 caliber dual purpose gun mount|
8 × 40mm guns (4x2)
USS Mount McKinley (AGC-7) was a Mount McKinley class amphibious force command ship named after the highest mountain in North America. She was designed as an amphibious force flagship, a floating command post with advanced communications equipment and extensive combat information spaces to be used by the amphibious forces commander and landing force commander during large-scale operations. Mount McKinley received four battle stars for World War II service and eight stars for Korean service.
Mount McKinley (AGC 7), was laid down as Cyclone, a transport, on 31 July 1943 by North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina; launched on 27 September, sponsored by Mrs. T. L. Lainer; renamed Mount McKinley on 27 December 1943; and commissioned at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on 1 May 1944, with Captain W. M. Graham in command.
The assault force arrived off Peleliu 15 September, with ComPhibGru 5 directing the landing of the 1st Marine Division. On 28 September, AGC 7 proceeded to nearby Ngesebus Island to provide shore bombardment coordination.
Mount McKinley left the area 14 October after Peleliu and the other main islands of the chain were secure. After a stop at Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea, the ship sailed to San Pedro Bay, Leyte Gulf, for the assault on Leyte and Ormoc. While in San Pedro Bay, the force was under constant air attack, but the AGC was not hit. On 15 December, the ship participated in the invasion of Mindoro.
She then proceeded to Lingayen Gulf to direct shore bombardment on 9 January.
On 21 March 1945, Mount McKinley proceeded to Kerama Retto off the southern coast of Okinawa. Six days prior to the last major assault of the war, AGC 7 directed the landing of the 77th Infantry Division. For the next 2 months, the ship remained at anchorage at Kerama Retto, threatened by constant air attacks. On 22 May, she sailed for Saipan, thence to Pearl Harbor and San Francisco, arriving in CONUS 23 June.
Returning to the United States 12 February 1946, she sailed in the early summer for Bikini Atoll where she was flagship for operation “Cross Roads.” Following the atomic bomb test in July, the ship operated out of San Diego for the next 18 months.
On 20 May 1950, Mount McKinley was underway for WesPac to conduct training operations with the 8th Army. On 26 June, when North Korea launched their aggression against the South, the ship proceeded from Japan to direct the landing of American reinforcements at Po Han. In early September 1950, General MacArthur was on board, directing the brilliant amphibious assault at Inchon which forced the Communists to scurry north in headlong retreat. The next assault was against the heavily mined port of Wonsan.
When Red Chinese troops entered the war, and American troops were pushed back to the Hungman beachhead, Mount McKinley assisted in the evacuation. In late January 1951, she assisted in the transfer of thousands of Korean refugees to Cheja Island.
On 7 June 1951, Mount McKinley sailed from Yokosuka and entered Mare Island Naval Shipyard 3 August for an extensive overhaul. Mount McKinley departed for WesPac, 6 March 1952, returning to the States 30 January 1953. While in Mare Island Naval Shipyard, a helicopter deck was installed on the fantail.
AGC 7 sailed again, 27 October 1953, for her third tour of duty in the Korean war area, arriving Yokosuka 16 November. From then until her departure for the States 30 July 1954, she was involved in fleet and amphibious exercises off Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.
After a yard overhaul in the summer of 1955, the amphibious flagship returned to WesPac in January 1956 for a 3 month period. In April, she was press observer ship for further nuclear tests.
The following January 9th, AGC 7 deployed to the Mediterranean. While in the eastern Mediterranean, the ship rescued the crew of a burning Greek fishing vessel, extinguished the fire, and towed the damaged vessel into Port. After conducting NATO and fleet exercises in the Mediterranean, she returned to Norfolk 19 June. September and early October were spent in NATO exercises in the eastern Atlantic.
In January 1958, Mount McKinley deployed to 6th Meet, operating with the Amphibious Ready Group in NATO and U.S. exercises. Due to return to the States in June, the ship’s departure was delayed due to increasing tensions in the Middle East.
In February 1960, the ship sailed to Valparaiso, Chile, via the Panama Canal to provide communications support for President Eisenhower’s good will visit to Latin America. On 19 April, the AGC deployed to 6th Fleet, returning to Norfolk 7 December.
Upon completion of her yard period in the summer of 1961, Mount McKinley made her fifth deployment to the Mediterranean from September to February 1962, acting as flagship for several large scale amphibious exercises.
In October, during the Cuban missile crisis, Mount McKinley served at flagship for ComPhibLant and ComPhIbGru 4. Following the Cuban quarantine, she sailed for the Mediterranean 10 January 1963 to act as command flagship for the Amphibious Strike Force. Arriving back in Norfolk 2 August 1963, she entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a FRAM II overhaul, extending from September to January 1964.
After refresher training and exercise “Quick Kick V,” AGC 7 departed Norfolk 10 May, arriving San Diego 26 May via Panama Canal. Immediately after the Tonkin Gulf Incident, she was ordered to Southeast Asia.
She sailed from San Diego 25 August, arriving Luzon 16 September. She relieved Eldorado at Subic Bay a week later, becoming flagship of the 7th Fleet, Amphibious Strike Force. Taking station in the South China Sea, with other elements of Amphibious Group 1, AGC 7 stood prepared for any contingency.
While proceeding to Bangkok, Mount McKinley came to assistance of Herkimer, whose master was severely ill. Herkimer’s captain was taken on board for further treatment in Singapore while the MSTS ship sailed on to Saigon. In early March and again in mid April, the flagship coordinated the landing of Marine reinforcements at Da Nang and Hue, Vietnam.
The command ship sailed again from San Diego on 15 March, arriving at Subic Bay on 17 April via Pearl Harbor. Based there, the ship visited ports in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Okinawa, acting as flagship of ComPhibGru 1.
On 23 August, Mount McKinley sailed for home, arriving 19 September 1966. She sailed on her third WesPac deployment 1 July, arriving Da Nang 28 July to become once more the flagship of Commander, 7th Fleet Amphibious Force. She provided communications support for search and destroy operations against the Vietcong and North Vietnamese regulars. As in earlier deployments, support for our military forces was combined with civic action for the benefit of the helpless civilian victims of war.
The ship’s designation was changed from AGC 7 to LCC 7 on 1 January 1969. Since her arrival back in CONUS, she has been engaged in type training and amphibious exercises on the west coast as flagship of ComPhibGru 3 Into 1969.
The USS Mount Mckinley was sold by the U.S. Navy for disposal in 1976.
- Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Primary source for this article)