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USS St. Louis (LKA-116)

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USSStLouis.jpg USS St. Louis (LKA-116)
History
Laid down: 3 April 1968
Launched: 4 January 1969
Commissioned: 22 November 1969
Decommissioned: 2 November 1992
Fate: In reserve at Pearl Harbor, HI (as of 5/07)
General Characteristics
Displacement: 10,097 tons light,
18,465 tons full
Length: 575 ft 6 in
Beam: 82 ft
Draft: 25 ft 5 in
Propulsion: Automated steam turbine, 1 propeller, 22,000 SHP
Speed: 20 knots
Complement: 50 officers, 592 enlisted
Armament: 4 × twin 3"/50 rapid fire gun mounts
Boats: 4 × LCM-8, 4 × LCM-6,
2 × LCVP, 2 × LCPL

USS St. Louis (LKA-116), was a Charleston class amphibious cargo ship named after the city of St. Louis, Missouri. She served as a commissioned ship for 22 years and 11 months, earning two battle stars for service in the Vietnam War.

She was laid down as AKA-116 on 3 April 1968 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Virginia; redesignated LKA-116 on 1 January 1969; and launched on 4 January 1969. She was sponsored by the Honorable Leonore K. Sullivan Member of Congress from the 3rd District of Missouri, and commissioned on 22 November 1969 at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Captain John W. Klinefelter in command.

Initial trials and training

Following commissioning, St. Louis was outfitted at Norfolk; and, on 3 February 1970, commenced trials. On 6 February, she was ready for sea and sailed for Long Beach, California, her home port. While en route, she conducted underway training for her crew, visited Fort Lauderdale, Florida, transited the Panama Canal and arrived at Long Beach on 28 February ready for two months of intensive training in battle organization and amphibious operations.

St. Louis spent May and June in post-shakedown availability and the greater part of July in provisioning preparatory to her first deployment with the fleet. Late in July, she conducted her first dependents' cruise to familiarize the families of her crew members with her operations and capabilities. She got underway on 1 August with units of Amphibious Squadron 11 for Pearl Harbor.

Vietnam

St. Louis, with the squadron, reached Pearl Harbor on 6 August, refueled, and sailed on the 8th for Vietnam. On 16 August, she was detached to proceed to Subic Bay and finally rejoined her squadron at Danang on 21 August. After offloading Marines and their equipment, she then proceeded to Buckner Bay, Okinawa, returned to Long Beach to transport a World War II midget Japanese submarine to the submarine base at Pearl Harbor; and anchored again in Danang Harbor on 11 October. After completion of a large redeployment operation involving over 2,000 Marines and 22,000 tons of equipment in the Quang Nam province, St. Louis visited Hong Kong and then moved to Subic Bay in the Philippines to participate in large scale amphibious landing exercises during November and December.

St. Louis completed the amphibious exercise in early January, spent 15 days in upkeep in Subic Bay, then headed north again for two months of shuttling men and cargo between Vietnam, Okinawa, and Japan. She departed from Yokosuka on 20 March 1971 and entered Long Beach on the 31st. After a month and a half stand down period in Long Beach and three more weeks of local operations and upkeep there, she returned to Vietnam, arriving in Danang on 24 June. She visited Hong Kong, 28 June to 3 July, then returned to Long Beach on 19 July. St. Louis remained on the west coast for the remainder of 1971 and for the first three months of 1972. During this period, she was engaged in refresher training, amphibious exercises, and upkeep.

Mid 1970s

On 31 March 1972, St. Louis headed out of Long Beach Naval Shipyard back to the picket line off the coast of South Vietnam, participating in the defense of Quang Tri during the Easter Offensive on May 24,1972. The "USS St. Louis" offloaded South Vietnamese Marines and US Navy SEAL squads during this assault, earning a campaign star, and later, in the 1990's, the Combat Action Ribbon. After seven months of transporting men and cargo between various bases in the western Pacific, she returned to Long Beach on Veterans' Day 1972. She spent the rest of 1972 and all of 1973 on the west coast. She visited Acapulco, Mexico, in February, participated in DSRV operations in May and visited Portland, Oregon, in June for the annual Rose Festival. She finished out 1973 with availability periods, refresher training, and amphibious exercises. In mid-January 1974, St. Louis stood out of Long Beach to return to the western Pacific. As of May 1974, she was in port at Subic Bay, P.I.

St. Louis was taken out of commission and put in reserve on 2 November 1992. As of 30 July 2001, she was berthed at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Middle Loch, in Pearl Harbor.

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