USS Seminole AKA-104



USS Seminole (AKA-104/LKA-104) was a Tolland class attack cargo ship named after a member of a tribe of Muskhogen Indians who lived in Florida until 1843 when they were transferred to the Indian Territory. Seminole was designed to carry military cargo and landing craft, and to use the latter to land weapons, supplies, and Marines on enemy shores during amphibious warfare and operations. She served as a commissioned ship for 25 years and 9 months.

Service during World War II

Seminole was built in 1944 under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1703), by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina; launched on December 28, 1944; sponsored by Miss Pamel
a Cole; Commissioned on March 8, 1945 at the Charleston Navy Yard, Charleston, South Carolina, with Lieutenant Commander E. L. Bothwell, Assistant to the Captain of the Yard, in temporary command.

Following shakedown in Chesapeake Bay from March 25 to March 28, 1945, the attack cargo ship operated along the east coast under the command of Captain Budd before loading up with cargo in Norfolk. On April 8 she departed Norfolk for the Panama Canal Zone. Seminole transited the Panama Canal on April 14 to April 15, together with AKA-96 and two submarines to escort us part of the way, and  arrived at Pearl Harbor on April 30.

From May 1 through May 27, Seminole engaged in training cruises off the Hawaiian Islands. May 15 we loaded submarine nets and buoys and on May 28, she got underway with no accompanying ships for the Marshall Islands and arrived at Eniwetok on June 6. Seminole zigzagged her way to Ulithi, Caroline Islands, from June 17-21, where she loaded anti-tank land mines for Okinawan operations. Departed Ulithi on July 10 in a 30 ship convoy with seven destroyers and arrived in  Buckner Bay, Okinawa on July 14, Seminole unloaded her cargo on July 17. On July 18, general quarters were sounded, and the AKA steamed southward to avoid a typhoon. The hazard over by July20, Seminole returned to Buckner Bay the following day. She took similar measures during a typhoon warning from August 1-3. During our stay in Buckner Bay there were eleven destroyers and the APA-200 hit or sunk by suicide planes.

On August 6, Seminole departed Buckner Bay for Ulithi, and, in spite of trouble in her fuel lines and a propeller which was damaged by hitting a buoy at the harbor entrance, arrived on August 10. On the thirteenth, she got underway for Palau in the Peleliu Islands and arrived the following day.  While in Palau, a celebration took place with the announcement that World War II was over.

Seminole loaded cargo belonging to the 10th and 11th division of marines at Palau and departed on August 21 for the Marianas. After anchoring in Saipan Harbor on August 24, she distributed cargo at Saipan, Tanapag and Tinian before getting underway for Guam on September 1.  Seminole remained in Apra Harbor, Guam, from September 1-4, before sailing for the Philippines.

Seminole entered San Pedro Bay, Leyte, on September 8; steamed to Guiuan, Samar Island, on September 10 where she transferred four LCVP's and eight LCM's, retaining eleven LCVP’s and the captain’s gig, before steaming to Iloilo, Panay Island, on September 11.

From September 12-17, Seminole loaded general cargo, ammunition, vehicles, landing craft, and gasoline for the 40th Infantry Division, Then, on September 18, she got underway for Jinsen, Korea.  After passing Okinawa we headed into mine infested waters with and APD as an escort.  The APD was able to destroy a few with their 40mm gun crews. The Seminole arrived in Jinsen, Korea on September 25 and after unloading cargo, departed October 1 with an AKA and had an APD provide escort service again in mined areas.  Typhoons altered original plans to go to Samar and then received orders to go to Leyte in the Philipines. Leyte arrival was on October 7. She remained in Philippine waters, loading cargo at various points, until October 18 when she stood out of San Fernando Harbor, Luzon, for Jinsen, Korea and arriving October 24. After unloading equipment and 84 officers and men of the U.S. 6th Infantry Division at Jinsen, Seminole again set out on October 31 for the Philippines, anchoring in Guiuan Harbor, Samar, on November 5.  After taking on fuel, we departed Guiuan on December 1 and arrived in Tientsen, China on December 8.  Loaded troops and headed for Tsingtao, China on December 18,  Set sail on February 3, 1946 for San Francisco with stops in Guam and Pearl Harbor, finally arriving on March 5.

Service after World War II and during the war in Korea

During the postwar years from 1946 to 1950, Seminole operated along the west coast, and at Pearl Harbor, Guam, and other Pacific ports.

In Puget Sound when war broke out in Korea in the summer of 1950, Seminole and sister ship, USS Washburn (AKA-108), got underway for Yokosuka, Japan. She changed her course in accordance with a dispatch of August 30 and arrived at Kobe the next day. After voyage repairs at the Mitsubishi dockyards and lashing down for typhoon “Jane,” Seminole loaded military cargo and got underway for Pusan, Korea, on September 4 accompanied by USS Pickaway (APA-222) and USS Fort Marion (LSD-22). Seminole returned to Kobe that same day in compliance with a confidential dispatch, fueled to capacity, and got underway independently at 0027 on September 5.

Seminole moored in Pusan Harbor on September 6. On September 8, she commenced loading cargo, supplies, and equipment of the 1st Marine Provisional Brigade. Five war correspondents reported on board on September 11, and 301 U.S. Marines and 58 ROK marines embarked the next day. On September 15, Seminole lowered and dispatched her boats for the opposed landings on Red Beach, Inchon. From September 16-20, the AKA continued to offload her cargo. On September 21, she evacuated six marine casualties and debarked them at Sasebo, Japan, on September 23.

After repairs to the ship and her boats, Seminole stood out of Kobe on October 5 and arrived at Inchon on October 8. Seminole began loading troops and equipment of the 1st Marine Division the next day and took on additional troops and cargo until standing out of the harbor on October 17. Seminole and accompanying ships reversed their course back and forth several times until the mine fields at Wonsan had been cleared. She entered Wonsan Harbor on October 25 and landed marines and offloaded cargo until October 30.

Seminole departed Wonsan Harbor on November 1, reaching Pusan the next day. After embarking men of the 65th Regimental Combat Team and the 58th Field Artillery Battalion, she disembarked them at Wonsan on November 7. Two days later, Seminole got underway for Pusan and sank a mine with fire from small arms and 20 millimeter guns en route. Seminole anchored in Pusan on November 10, where she loaded troops, X Corps, before getting underway on the next day.

Seminole returned to Wonsan Harbor on November 12, disembarked the soldiers, and performed upkeep and maintenance until standing out for Japan on November 17. Seminole arrived at Yokosuka Harbor on November 20, remaining there until the end of the month. Early in December, the attack transport returned to Korea to evacuate troops who had been endangered by the entry of China Communist forces into the war. The ship entered Wonsan Harbor on December 4, and embarked a platoon of the 3rd Infantry Division and their equipment. From December 5-7, additional elements of the 3rd Infantry Division, including the Division Band, came on board. On December 9, Seminole stood into Hungnam, Korea. For the remainder of 1950, Seminole completed several trips between Hungnam and Pusan, ferrying Japanese stevedores, as well as 3rd Division and ROK soldiers. Seminole anchored at Kobe Harbor on December 29.

On January 13 1951, Seminole stood out of Kobe en route to Korea, anchoring at the Pusan outer harbor the next day. From January 23-28, Seminole transported North Korean and Chinese POW'S from Pusan to Sadung Ni. On January 29, Seminole interrupted this work to engage in simulated amphibious movements and assault landings along the eastern coast. The ruse, between January 29-31, caused the enemy to deploy his troops where they did not threaten United Nations forces.

Her mission completed, Seminole returned to the ferrying of POW's on February 2. On February 8, additional simulated assault landings were made. On February 10, Seminole departed Inchon for Japan and arrived at Sasebo two days later. She made one more trip to Korea and back that month, returning to Yokosuka Harbor on the 25th.

Seminole departed Sasebo on April 4, arriving at Hong Kong on the 16th. On July 9, she stood into San Diego Harbor. Seminole operated along the west coast until November 29, 1952, then she returned to Yokosuka. Departing Yokosuka on December 5, Seminole resumed her operations in Korean and Japanese waters. On April 10 1953, Seminole departed Japan as a part of Task Group 90.9 which redeployed the 5th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team from Pusan and Koje Do, Korea, to Otaru, Japan. Arriving at Pusan on April 13, Seminole loaded vehicles, drivers, and 500 troops before returning to Otaru on te 27th.

Seminole continued her operations in Japanese and Korean waters well after the signing of the truce on July 27 1953. From July 28 to September 12, she ferried almost 10,000 North Korean and Chinese POW's in Operation “Big Switch” from Koje Do to Inchon. On September 22, she departed Asian waters and arrived at San Diego on Columbus Day 1953.

On September 14 1954, Seminole departed the west coast. She arrived at Yokosuka on October 2, Hong Kong on the tenth, and Sasebo on the 29th.

On November 30, 1955, the attack transport ship stood into Subic Bay, Philippines, and arrived at Saigon, Vietnam, on New Year's Eve. After evacuating refugees from North Vietnam and the Tachen Islands, she departed Saigon on January 11 1956. Seminole returned to Japan, standing into Kobe on the 27th.

Seminole departed Kobe on February 6 and proceeded to Buckner Bay, Okinawa. On February 24, she departed the Ryukyus for Japan and thence proceeded to San Diego via Pearl Harbor. For the remainder of 1956, Seminole operated along the west coast and Alaska. In January of 1957, she again set sail for Yokosuka. Seminole operated off Japan, Okinawa, and Korea until her return to San Diego on September 26. Back in Yokosuka on July 3 1958, the AKA remained in East Asian waters until her return to San Diego on December 8.

Service in the 1960s

Seminole continued her active service into the 1960s. On July 1st 1966, Seminole was assigned to Amphibious Squadron 9. On February 24 1967, the squadron departed Chin Wan, Okinawa, and arrived off the mouth of the Cua Viet, South Vietnam, on March 1. There, they embarked marines for rotation, and arrived at Chin Wan on March 13. On April 14 the Seminole assisted in the rescue of 28 survivors of SS Silver Peak, which had been run aground by typhoon “Violet.”

Seminole participated in Operation “Beaver Cage,” an amphibious and helicopter borne assault in support of the 1st Marine Division from 28 April to 13 May. Planning commenced immediately for operation "Beau Charger," an amphibious and helicopter assault for a search and destroy operation near the DMZ. This operation, executed May 18-22, inflicted losses upon the enemy in an area he had considered his sanctuary.

On June 18, Operation "Beacon Torch" was launched near Hoi An. After disrupting enemy base areas, fortifications, and lines of communications, the 5th Marine Regiment was withdrawn on July 2 and inserted just south of the DMZ to help counter an urgent North Vietnamese threat in Operation “Bear Track,” July 4 through the 17th. Three days later, Operation “Bear Chain” was launched against enemy strongholds south of Hue, terminating on July 25. A short duration, surprise amphibious assault in the vicinity of Hue, was followed by a search and destroy sweep inland, Operation “Kangaroo Kick.”

Seminole next headed for a much-needed upkeep period, arriving at Subic Bay on 5 August. The last operation of this deployment came on 27 August with an amphibious landing near Quang Tri. Operation “Belt Drive,” as it was named, came to a successful completion on 5 September and deterred enemy terrorism over the election period. Seminole's unit departed Vietnamese waters on 1 September, however, to return to the United States west coast, via Hong Kong and Subic Bay. She arrived at her homeport, San Diego, on 21 September.

From April 24 to May 3 1968, Seminole participated in fleet exercise “Beagle Leash” off the California islands of Coronado and San Clemente. On August 1 Seminole participated in a joint convoy exercise while in transit from San Diego to Pearl Harbor.

On October 10, during an upkeep period in Subic Bay, Seminole relieved USS Merrick (AKA-97). On the 23rd, she entered Kaoshiung for a port visit. On the 28th, Seminole proceeded independently to join the ARG in Danang on the 30th. She was detached on November 13th for a round-trip voyage to Singapore and rejoined the task group on the 26th. Seminole got underway for Hong Kong on December 6, arriving two days later.

After spending Christmas in Hong Kong, Seminole stood out of the harbor on December 27, 1968 to rejoin her unit off the Vietnamese coast near Danang.

Seminole was re-designated (LKA-104) on January 1, 1969.

On January 12, Seminole's squadron participated in the Mo Due demonstration. Seminole remained in the Mo Due area alone to continue the demonstration, thus missing Operation “Bold Mariner,” the largest amphibious operation since the Inchon landings. On February 6, the LKA offloaded Seatail material and steamed singly for Yokosuka on the 14th. Amphibious Squadron 9 rejoined Seminole at Yokosuka on the 26th.

On July 14th, Seminole grounded on Puget Shoals after a port visit in the Olympia, Washington, area. She rejoined Amphibious Squadron 9 at Buckner Bay on December 1. The squadron got underway for Subic Bay the next day and finished the year in upkeep.

Following additional upkeep, training, and an amphibious demonstration for students and faculty from the Vietnamese Defense College, Seminole departed Subic Bay on January 25, 1970 for Vietnam and Operation “Keystone Bluejay.” The ship completed loading marines and equipment on January 29 and delivered them to San Diego on February 24.

On September 23, in her 25th year of active service, Seminole was transferred to the Inactive Ship Facility, San Diego. She was placed out of commission in reserve on December 23, 1970.

Seminole received six battle stars for service in the Korean War and six campaign stars for service in Vietnam.


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