USS Yancey (AKA-93)

USS "Yancey" (AKA-93/LKA-93) was an attack cargo ship named after Yancey County, North Carolina. She served as a commissioned ship for 22 years and 6 months.

"Yancey" (AKA-93) was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1193) on 22 May 1944 at Oakland, California, by the Moore Dry Dock Company; launched on 8 July 1944; sponsored by Miss Beverly Bartlett; and commissioned on 11 October 1944, Comdr. Edward R. Rice, USNR, in command.

History

World War II

After fitting out at San Francisco, California, the attack cargo ship received her boat group of 26 landing craft and conducted an intensive shakedown out of San Pedro, California She underwent post-shakedown alterations and repairs at San Diego, California, before she shifted back to San Francisco. There, she loaded cargo from 18 November to 24 November and sailed the next day for the Hawaiian Islands.

"Yancey" reached Pearl Harbor on 2 December and, upon arrival, was assigned to Transport Division (TransDiv) 47, Transport Squadron (TransKon) 16. The attack cargo ship remained at Pearl Harbor through mid-January 1945, unloading cargo and preparing for the impending invasion of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands. Finally, on 27 January 1945, "Yancey" stood out of Hawaiian waters, bound for the Marianas with elements and cargo of the 5th Marine Division as part of Task Group (TG) 51.12.

En route, "Yancey" stopped at Eniwetok, in the Marshalls, for supplies and fuel. At Saipan, she later transferred her passengers to LST's and at Tinian rehearsed for the Iwo Jima operation. Finally, "Yancey" arrived off Iwo Jima at 0624 on 19 February, D day for the initial landing. During her time oif the invasion beaches, the ship lost two landing craft (LCVPs)—one to mortar fire and the other to broaching in the heavy surf. For the first four days of the operation, "Yancey's" boats and landing craft were in almost constant use—carrying troops and cargo and evacuating wounded. The ship also transferred 8 inch ammunition to the heavy cruiser USS|Pensacola|CA-24|2, a process that had to be carried out by boat due to unfavorable weather and to damage which "Yancey" suffered when the two ships banged hard together.

Due to the tactical situation ashore, "Yancey" did not begin discharging general cargo until the morning of the 27th, when she anchored off "Red" beach. There, bad weather and unfavorable beach conditions made unloading slow, and nightly air raids interrupted the process several times. Much of the time, landing craft could not be used due to the high surf, so cargo had to be carried ashore by LST's, LSMs, and LCTs.

During that unloading period, "Yancey" received her baptism of fire in the form of a long-range mortar shell. The ship, however, did not suffer any casualties and continued her duties offshore, embarking casualties. Thirty of the wounded were kept on board for evacuation, while others were transferred to nearby hospital ships. "Yancey" finally completed the unloading procedure on 2 March and, screened by a pair of destroyers, got underway for Saipan in company with three other transports.

After discharging casualties and fueling at Saipan, "Yancey" proceeded via Tulagi to Espiritu Santo where she joined the rest of her squadron and embarked units of the Army's 27th Division.

On 25 March, "Yancey" sortied for the Ryūkyūs as part of TG 51.3, the group earmarked as the mobile reserve. En route, via a scheduled stop in the Carolines, "Yancey" towed a disabled LSM to Ulithi.

On Easter Sunday, 1 April 1945, American forces started going ashore at Okinawa, beginning the long and bloody battle for that island. Eight days later, "Yancey" reached Kerama Retto with the rest of Trans-Div 47, which had been detached from TG 51.3. She soon received orders sending her to battle and got underway on 11 April for the Hagushi beaches.

"Yancey" anchored off the beach on the 12th and commenced discharging her cargo that night. There, she started a routine of working hatches, securing to man all antiaircraft batteries, and at night making smoke. "Smoke boats"—landing craft equipped with smoke-laying equipment—from the attack cargo ship and picket boats—with armed sailors—were furnished ships in the outer anchorage. This measure improved security, but it prevented the boats so employed from unloading the ships.

Air raids caused further problems. "Yancey" s commanding officer estimated that while "Yancey" was off Okinawa, she lost 15 hours and 13 minutes due to the enemy airmen. Fortunately, her gunners were good and her fire control discipline excellent. On the evening of the 15th, her number four 40 millimeter mount registered hits on a Nakajima Ki-43 "Oscar" and claimed a "sure assist" as the plane crashed some 3,000 yards from the ship.

The ship, the first AKA of her group to complete the unloading, finally put to sea on the 16th and headed independently for the Marianas. During the Okinawa campaign, "Yancey" had fortunately suffered only three casualties: two men were wounded by shrapnel and a third suffered a broken arm. No boats were lost, and there were no accidents on board ship.

After a brief stop at Guam to draw replacement boats and to allow her officers and men to get ashore for some rest and recreation, "Yancey" rejoined her squadron at Ulithi on 27 April and underwent 14 days of upkeep and logistics. In addition, she received much-needed boiler repairs and conducted intensive antiaircraft training during which her crew won numerous five-case "beer prizes" for shooting down target sleeves.

On 8 May, "Yancey" received orders for detached duty in connection with the movement of men and material from rear area bases. Over the next two months, while the fighting continued on Okinawa and Allied forces moved inexorably closer to Japan, raiding her shores with near impunity, "Yancey" touched at Manus in the Admiralties; Finschhafen, New Guinea; Tulagi; Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea; and finally Guiuan, on the island of Samar, in the Philippines.

After reporting back to TransDiv 47, TransRon 16, at San Pedro Bay, Leyte Gulf, on 16 July, "Yancey" proceeded with the rest of the division to Iloilo, on the island of Panay, to conduct amphibious training exercises with the Army's 43d Division which included landing on Negros Island.

On 15 August 1945, the attack cargo ship was in the Philippines loading equipment for slated exercises when Japan capitulated. The next day, the training exercises were canceled, and the troops disembarked. TransDiv 47 provisioned at Iloilo and sailed for Batangas, Luzon, Philippines, to join the rest of TransRon 16. There, she commenced loading elements of the 1st Cavalry Division for the occupation of Japan.

Completing the loading process on the 23rd, "Yancey" weighed anchor on the 25th as a member of Task Force (TF) 33. However, the ships had to turn back because of a tropical storm in the vicinity. The typhoon delayed the task force for only a day, as the ships weathered the fringes of the storm at Subic Bay before again getting underway soon thereafter.

"Yancey" entered Tokyo Bay on the morning of 2 September, the day Japan signed the formal articles of surrender on the deck of the battleship USS|Missouri|BB-63|2 anchored there. Shortly after the conclusion of those ceremonies, the attack cargo ship headed into Yokohama harbor, the third ship in her squadron to enter that port and the first to start unloading. The ship completed her unloading in 19 hours and then proceeded to an anchorage off Yokohama.

TransRon 16 proceeded to sea on 4 September and steamed via Leyte Gulf to Zamboanga. There, they commenced loading elements of the Army's 41st Infantry Division on the 16th. Completing that process on the 18th, "Yancey" and her sisters shifted soon thereafter to Bugo, Mindanao, where she picked up Army LCMs. Ultimately, TG 54.28, of which "Yancey" was a part, assembled in Leyte Gulf on the 21st. The following day, all ships weighed anchor and headed for the Inland Sea of Japan.

Due to minesweeping difficulties, however, the landings scheduled for the Kure-Hiroshima area were postponed; and the task group sailed instead for Buckner Bay, Okinawa. On 28 September, the ship put to sea to evade a typhoon. On 1 October, she returned and anchored in Buckner Bay. Two days later, "Yancey" again headed for Japanese waters and entered Bungo Suido on the 5th, beginning the long, difficult passage up the Inland Sea along the channel swept through the minefields. The next morning—after spending the night anchored in the cleared channel—"Yancey" headed for Hiro Wan, where the landings were made.

Post war

The ship completed her unloading in 48 hours. On 9 October, she was detached from TransRon 16 and reported to CinCPac for assignment. The following day, "Yancey" rode out a typhoon with 130 fathoms of chain on deck, a second anchor ready to go, and steam at the throttle. On the 11th, the rest of her squadron hoisted "homeward bound" pennants and headed for home, leaving "Yancey" to celebrate the first anniversary of her commissioning anchored in Hiro Wan, Japan, "waiting orders."

On 15 October, "Yancey" got underway for the Philippines. She drew replacement boats at Subic Bay and stopped at Manila for logistics before she sailed for French Indochina. En route to Haiphong, the ship's force readied the attack cargo vessel to receive her next passengers, Chinese troops.

Assigned to Task Unit (TU) 78.6.7, "Yancey" reached Doson, French Indochina, on 2 November. However, embarkation of the men of the 471st Regiment, 62d Chinese Army, did not begin for 11 days. The delay permitted both officers and men from Yancey to see the local sights ashore. On the 13th, Yancey brought on board by boat 1,027 officers and men—and one interpreter. The next day, the task unit—three attack transports (APA's) and "Yancey" stood out for Takao, Formosa.

The trip, as recorded by "Yancey" commanders, was uneventful, except for rough weather which caused the Chinese to suffer numerous cases of seasickness. Regular Chinese Army rations—tea and rice—were served twice a day, augmented by that staple, the "C" ration. North of Takao, on the 18th, TU 78.6.7 dropped anchor. By 1700 that day, the disembarking was complete. The Chinese had cooperated fully during the trip, and one "Yancey" sailor observed that they seemed "most appreciative of what little could be done to make them comfortable."

The following day, 18 November, "Yancey" proceeded to Manila to await further orders. On 25 November— exactly one year after the ship had left the United States and headed for the war zone—the attack cargo ship received her orders to proceed to the east coast of the United States for duty with the Service Fores, Atlantic Fleet. The ship's captain, Comdr. Rice, had the orders read over the ship's public address system. As a Yancey sailor recorded: "the response left no doubt that all hands were satisfied."

After embarking a capacity load of Army and Navy men returning to the United States for discharge, "Yancey" left Manila harbor on 27 November. Streaming a homeward-bound pennant 310 feet long and adorned with 27 stars, Yancey headed for home.

Reaching Balboa, Panama Canal Zone, on the last day of the year—via Pearl Harbor (where the ship fueled and received boiler repairs) and with Navy passengers embarked (the Army had been put ashore at Pearl Harbor)—"Yancey" was the last ship to transit the Panama Canal in 1945.

Six days into the new year, 1946, "Yancey" cleared Cristobal, Canal Zone, bound for Louisiana. After a brief stop at New Orleans, the attack cargo ship proceeded on, via Jacksonville, Florida, to Norfolk, where she arrived on 29 January. Less than a month later, on 27 February, "Yancey" sailed farther north and reached the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard the following day.

Over the next few months, "Yancey" underwent a regular overhaul there and then operated off the eastern seaboard and into the western Atlantic. During that time, she called at Bayonne, New Jersey; Bermuda; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Balboa, Canal Zone; Jacksonville, Florida; and made return calls at Norfolk, Bayonne, and Bermuda. In addition, the ship visited the New York Naval Shipyard and Davisville, Rhode Island, before being assigned tentatively to TF 68 effective on 9 November.

In compliance with her new orders, "Yancey" proceeded back to the west coast, sailing via Cristobal and the Panama Canal. Ultimately arriving at San Pedro, California, "Yancey" reported for duty to Commander, TF 68.

"Yancey" was reassigned to Service Force, Pacific Fleet, and homeported at San Francisco, California, on 11 November. The next day, she shifted to Port Hueneme, California, where she began loading cargo for Operation Highjump.

Departing Port Hueneme on 2 December, "Yancey" pressed southward, headed for Antarctica, and spent Christmas at sea. Two days later, she saw her first icebergs—visible evidence that she was entering the polar latitudes. She sighted the northern limit of the Antarctic pack ice on the 28th and spent the next two days investigating ice conditions. She fueled from USS|Canisteo|AO-99|6 10 miles south of Scott Island, Antarctica, purportedly becoming the first ship to conduct an underway refueling below the Antarctic Circle.

After threading her way through the pack ice over the ensuing weeks, "Yancey" finally arrived at Bay of Whales, Antarctica, mooring at the shelf ice on 18 January 1947. Subsequently departing that "port" on 6 February for the area to the north of the ice floes, the attack cargo ship entered the pack ice on the 9th. Over the next three days, she pressed through the floes that extended for a width of almost 275 miles.

On 13 February, "Yancey" joined TU 68.1.2 which also included the Coast Guard icebreaker, USCGC|Northwind, towing the attack cargo ship USS|Merrick|AKA-97|2. Within a week, the ships were riding out a fierce storm that justified—at least to "Yancey" sailors—the Antarctic's title as "The World's Stormiest Sea".

"Yancey" reached Port Chalmers, New Zealand, on 22 February and departed that port on 5 March, bound for Samoa. Subsequently departing Pago Pago on 27 March bound for Hawaii with "YTL-153" in tow, the attack cargo ship arrived at Pearl Harbor on 14 April. She soon got underway for the west coast of the United States and reached Port Hueneme on 2 May 1947. There, Yancey disembarked a unit of a construction battalion ("Seabees") and discharged TF 68 cargo. Her duty with TF 68 thus completed on 15 May, "Yancey" reported for duty to Commander, Service Division (ServDiv) 12.

Shortly thereafter, "Yancey" shifted to San Pedro before heading to Terminal Island, California, for restricted availability on 20 May. After that period of repairs and alterations, Yancey returned to Port Hueneme to load cargo earmarked for shipment to Pearl Harbor and Guam.

Over the next decade, "Yancey" operated between west coast ports and advanced bases in the Western Pacific (WestPac), including ports in Japan, Korea, and the Philippines. During that period, she also supported United Nations (UN) actions in Korea, operating in support of the initial attempts to fight the North Korean aggressors; in the first UN counter-offensives in early 1951; and in the final phases of activity that preceded the armistice in the summer of 1953. Finally, after having served continuously since 1944, "Yancey" was deactivated at San Francisco in December 1957 and placed out of commission in March 1958.

Recommissioned

Her sojourn in reserve, however, proved short. On 17 November 1961, as part of President John F. Kennedy's bid to build up the United States Navy, "Yancey" was recommissioned at Portland, Oregon, Capt. Gordon R. Keating in command.

Soon to join the Atlantic Fleet, "Yancey" departed San Diego on 12 January 1962 and reached Norfolk, her new assigned home port, on 2 February, there becoming the newest member of Amphibious Squadron (Phib-Ron) 12. Over the ensuing months, "Yancey" took part in a varied slate of exercises and maneuvers.

"Yancey" participated in Operation Phiblex in the spring of 1962, operating off Roosevelt Roads and Vieques, Puerto Rico. She later paid a port call at Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, before she returned to Roosevelt Roads and reloaded equipment and embarked marines slated to return to Morehead City, North Carolina. Subsequently returning to Norfolk on 2 May, "Yancey" touched briefly at Charleston, South Carolina, to take on additional landing craft before returning to the Tidewater region to spend the remainder of May.

Subsequently visiting Boston, and Rockland, Maine, "Yancey" participated in amphibious boat exercises at Provincetown, Massachusetts, before she got underway on 24 July for Davisville, Rhode Island. There, she loaded a Seabee unit and their equipment and headed eastward, bound for Rota, Spain.

Offloading one Seabee unit and onloading another, "Yancey" then paused briefly at Gibraltar before touching at Lisbon on the return leg of her voyage to the United States. Disembarking the seabees and unloading their equipment at Davisville, "Yancey" headed back to Norfolk, reaching her home port on 18 August 1962.

On 17 October, "Yancey" again sailed from Norfolk and proceeded to Morehead City, North Carolina, to load marines and equipment for Operation PhiBrigLex (Amphibious Brigade Exercises) slated for Vieques, Puerto Rico. Upon arrival, the attack cargo ship loaded immediately and set out to join the rest of the ships in the squadron. She soon was fighting her way through Hurricane Ella which caused her to alter her course to avoid the most severe part of the storm.

Cuban Missile Crisis

Meanwhile, a crisis was brewing in the Caribbean. American reconnaissance had disclosed the presence of Soviet offensive missiles on Cuban soil. Accordingly, on 23 October 1962, President Kennedy ordered a naval quarantine of Cuba to make sure that no more offensive weapons were taken to that island. "Yancey" supported the ensuing naval operations in waters near Cuba as the United States and the Soviet Union stood, in Secretary of State Dean Rusk's words, "eyeball to eyeball".

Operation Power Pack

After the removal of the offensive missiles, tension relaxed, and "Yancey" resumed her former routine of operations along the eastern seaboard and into the Caribbean. Over the next eight years, "Yancey" deployed regularly to the Mediterranean, where she joined in multilateral NATO exercises and supported the United States US 6th Fleet's presence in that area of the world.

Once again, however, "Yancey" was called upon to perform her vital support duties during a time of crisis. In the early spring of 1965, she was on a routine training mission when civil strife erupted into warfare in the turbulent Dominican Republic. Commander, Caribbean Sea Frontier, ordered the attack cargo ship to proceed at once to the troubled area, just as she was preparing to enter San Juan harbor for liberty.

On Friday, 30 April, the sixth day of the crisis, "Yancey" arrived off Santo Domingo, the strife-torn capital city. Incorporated into the Caribbean Force already on the scene, the attack cargo ship took on board 593 evacuees representing some 21 nations. Included in the group were the daughter of the United States ambassador to the Dominican Republic, the wife of the United States naval attaché, the Belgian ambassador, 16 nuns from the Dominican Order; and several seven- or eight person families. Among the 21 countries represented were Italy, France, Germany, Hungary, Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Switzerland, Canada, Lebanon, and the United States.

Upon their arrival on board the ship, the evacuees received information folders in Spanish and English, blankets, fresh fruit and milk, and various other items. In addition, nurseries, rest areas, information booths, infirmaries, and various other makeshift stations proliferated on board. Everything from baby bottles and diapers to canes and crutches were provided the people whose routine had been so unceremoniously uprooted by open warfare.

Women and children evacuees slept in the officers and crews' quarters, respectively, while "Yancey"s men and the male evacuees slept "under the stars." Sacrifices made by the ship's company included missing a few meals to ensure that the embarked refugees had enough to eat and abstaining from showers in order to conserve water—despite the almost constant 100-degree temperatures during the day. Her crew worked nearly around the clock in order to care for the sick, injured, elderly, and the children. Highlighting the voyage back to San Juan, between 30 April and 1 May, was a birth—the ship's doctor, Lt. Ben Passmore, MC, delivered Stephen Yancey Paez, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Rodolfo Paez, at sea on 1 May. A ship-wide ceremony ensued, with a cake-cutting and the traditional passing out of cigars.

Representatives of the Red Cross; the Commander, Caribbean Sea Frontier; and several hundred relatives greeted "Yancey" s arrival at San Juan on 1 May, and the 594 evacuees (the new arrival included) disembarked swiftly. There was more work in store for the attack cargo ship; and, in response to urgent requests from the Marines landed at Santo Domingo, the ship loaded hundreds of tons of gasoline, oil, and ammunition before she returned to the Dominican Republic.

Soon after the ship's arrival back in Santo Domingo on 2 May, "Yancey" s sailors worked round-the-clock shifts getting the vitally needed material ashore to the Marines. On the 3d, the ship received 150 evacuees; and, on the following day, an additional 300 more displaced persons came up the gangways. Again, the ship's crew responded, in her commander's words, "magnificently." Once again the ship inaugurated nurseries, infirmaries, "kiddie" watches, and other special arrangements to take care of her guests. Newspapers were printed in Spanish and English, and interpreters were constantly on duty and in demand. Although there were inconveniences to those civilians unaccustomed, as they were, to shipboard life, the evacuation itself was preferable to lying flat on the ground, listening to the whine of bullets overhead back in Santo Domingo.

Ultimately, "Yancey" disembarked the second contingent of refugees, having carried well over one-fourth of the total number of people evacuated from the Dominican Republic. She returned to Norfolk soon thereafter, soon to commence preparations for resumption of training and cruising off the eastern seaboard and into the Caribbean basin.

On 1 January 1969, "Yancey" was redesignated as (LKA-93).

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel incident

Toward the end of her career, "Yancey" made headlines. On 21 January 1970, "Yancey", at anchor near one stretch of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel near Norfolk, dragged her anchors in a snowy gale and, driven by the winds that gusted up to 50 miles an hour, drifted inexorably toward the span. The collision between the attack cargo ship and the bridge put the later out of service "for at least three weeks." The Navy started up a free shuttle service for commuters that normally utilized the bridge-tunnel, using helicopters and LCUs. Fortunately, there were no vehicles on the bridge, and no one was injured.

Subsequently, "Yancey" deployed once more to the Mediterranean in the spring of 1970. She returned to the United States that summer and entered inactive status at Norfolk on 1 October of that year. Placed out of commission, in reserve, there on 20 January 1971, Yancey was towed to the James River berthing area for the National Defense Reserve Fleet on 18 March 1971. She remained there until her name was struck from the Navy List sometime between 1 October and 31 December 1976.

She was sunk as an artificial reef off Morehead City, North Carolina, 1990, lying on her starboard side at a depth of 160 feet.

Awards and honors

"Yancey" earned two battle stars for her operations in World War II and three for her Korean service. In addition, an Antarctic glacier, located in the Brittania Range, was named for her.

References

External links

* [http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/y1/yancey.htm Naval Historical Center: "Yancey"]
* [http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/02093.htm NavSource Online: AKA / LKA-93 "Yancey"]
* [http://unitpages.military.com/unitpages/unit.do?id=200317 Military.com: USS "Yancey"]
* [http://ussrankin.org/id352.htm 51 Years of AKAs]


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