A BRIEF HISTORY OF LCS(L)(3) 34
Frank N. Farmer, Gunner’s Mate
After a short but impressive ceremony at the Commercial Iron Works in Portland, Oregon, the U.S.S. LCS(L)(3) 34 slid down the ways at 1215 on 17 September 1944. Two weeks of trial runs and fitting out followed and, at 1000 on 30 September, Lieutenant Commander Snyder, representing the Supervisor of Shipbuilding in Portland, accepted the ship for the United States Navy and, pursuant to orders from the Chief of Naval Operations, placed it in commission. Lieutenant (jg.) J. Brad Seely, U.S.N.R., assumed command. The following officers reported aboard for duty:
Ensign Jack T. Kroner, U.S.N.R., Executive Officer
Ensign H.H. Smallridge, Jr., U.S.N.R., Gunnery Officer
Ensign E.V. Hathaway, U.S.N.R., Engineering Officer
Ensign J.E. Wren, U.S.N.R., First Lieutenant
Ensign Frazer Banks, Jr., U.S.N.R., Communications Officer
The next nine days were filled with stowing supplies, provisioning, fueling, taking aboard ammunition, degaussing and swinging the ship. In company with LCSs 33 and 53, the 34 departed Portland on 10 October on a shake-down cruise and arrived at the U.S.N. Repair Base in San Diego, California, at 2000 on 14 October.
Lieutenant Commander Dennler, U.S.N., and party came aboard on 16 October and conducted an arrival inspection. LCSs 31, 32, 33, 34, 52 and 53 engaged in a training program including maneuvers, emergency drills and one day’s firing practice between 16 and 20 October. We returned to berth at the South Quay Wall for assignment to availability.
LCSs 33 and 34 were dry docked in ARD-28 on 25 October, for hull inspection and painting. Availability continued until the ship departed San Diego for a forward area.
Under the command of Lieutenant Commander F.P. Stone, U.S.N.R., Commander LCS (L) Group Seven, LCSs 31, 32, 33, 34, 51 and 52 departed San Diego on 6 November for San Pedro, California. We arrived San Pedro on 7 November and departed the following morning for Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii. The voyage to Pearl Harbor was uneventful and provided an excellent opportunity to exercise at emergency drills and train the ship’s inexperienced helmsmen. We arrived Pearl Harbor on 17 November and moored at TARE docks in the West Loch.
Routine work was carried out until the ship was assigned availability and moved to a small shipyard in Kewalo Basin. The major changes made here included moving the Mark 51 Director, controlling Gun No. 42 (forward 40 MM twin mount) from the conn to the forward director tub; installation of an SCR-610 voice radio in the conn; the installation of an SCR-608 in the radio shack; the installation of three .50 cal. machine gun mounts; and the installation of NAN equipment for visual communications. Availability ended on 2 November.
Following availability at Kewalo Basin, the 34 rendezvoused with the 31, 32 and 33, and the LCI(G)s 345 and 437 for maneuvers from 2 through 9 December off Lanai and Kahoolawe Islands. Tactical maneuvers, emergency drills, signal drills and firing practice were stressed. Shore bombardment of Kahoolawe Islands was conducted on 4 December and AA firing practice was conducted on 9 December. This was the first opportunity all gun crews had an opportunity to fire. While the results were not unsatisfactory, it was apparent the gun crews needed considerable firing practice before entering a combat area. The ship returned to West Loch and remained there until 20 December when, with LCSs 31, 32, 33, 37, 38, 51 and 57, she departed for Maui Island and maneuvers from 20 through 26 December.
Tactical maneuvers, emergency drills and firing practice were again emphasized. Ships also paired off and engaged in salvage practice using new towing gear which had been installed in Pearl Harbor. The results were not very satisfactory. Kahoolawe Island was bombarded again on 24 December and a plane-towed sleeve was provided for AA firing on 26 December. All gun crews showed improvement over the previous firing runs.
Christmas was observed at anchor in Maalaea Bay, Maui. Many of the officers and men attended Divine Services at a nearby U.S.N. Underwater Demolition Base.
The ship returned to Pearl Harbor on 26 December and remained there until 29 December when, with LCSs 31, 32, 33, 37, 38 and 52, she returned to Maalaea Bay, to train with Underwater Combat Demolition Teams. The return to Pearl Harbor was made on 3 January. AA firing practice, using a plane-towed sleeve, was conducted en route. The gun crews continued to show improvement.
We departed Pearl Harbor again on 10 January 1945 with Division Thirteen of LCS(L) Group Seven. The Group was under the command of Lieutenant Commander F.P. Stone, U.S.N.R. Group Seven was a part of LCS(L) Flotilla Three, commanded by Captain T.C. Aylward, U.S.N. Ships assigned to Division Thirteen included LCSs 31 (Flag), 32, 33, 34, 35, 37 and 51. The destination was Maui. Rehearsals for a future engagement were conducted off Kahoolawe from 10 to 18 January. Transport, fire support and close fire support units assigned to the operation engaged in the rehearsals. Pre-invasion bombardments and mock landings were conducted. The ship returned to Pearl Harbor on 18 January and prepared for onward routing.
LCS 34 departed Pearl Harbor on 22 January in company with LC(FF) 988 (Flotilla Three flagship), LCSs 32, 33, 35, 36 and 51 as Gunboat Support Unit 51.13.4 of Tractor Group Baker.
Eniwetok, Marshall Islands was reached on 3 February. The trip had been uneventful. Emergency drills and AA firing practice were conducted en route. Engaged in logistics and departed Eniwetok 5 February, bound for Saipan, Marianas Islands. AA firing practice was conducted en route.
Saipan was reached on 10 February. On 12 and 13 February, final full dress rehearsals were conducted off the beaches on Tinian. We departed Saipan on 15 February bound for Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands. Arrived Iwo Jima on 19 February and supported the landings on Blue One Beach. Details of the action encountered are in the Action Report submitted on 6 March. Briefly, the ship supported the initial landings and then stood by for call fire. Advancing Marine units were supported with main battery fire and 4.5-inch rocket bombardment. The ship was assigned to salvage duty, but the results rather conclusively proved these vessels were thoroughly unsuited for this type duty. Neither the salvage gear nor the necessary power in the main engines were available to do a good job.
Departed Iwo Jima on 26 February in company with ships of LCS(L) Division Thirteen and LC(FF) 988. Arrived in Saipan on 2 March and engaged in logistics. Departed Saipan, in convoy, on 3 March, bound for Leyte, Philippine Islands. Our main engines failed at 2120 on 3 March. The ship was taken in tow by ATF-94 at 2331. Emergency repairs were made and the ship was able to cast off from the towing vessel at 0845 on 7 March.
Arrived in San Pedro Bay, Leyte, on 9 March. The period from 9 through 24 March was spent making repairs to the ship, engaging in logistics, and rehearsing for the invasion of a future objective. The 34 got underway at 1210 on 25 March in convoy with Tractor Group Fox, of Task Force 51, en route to the objective at Okinawa Shima, Ryukyus Chain. Arrived at Okinawa on Love Day (1 April) and supported the landings of elements of the Tenth Army during the initial beachhead established on Purple One Beach.
Action at Okinawa during the period from 1 April through 6 July is covered in detail in the “General Action Report” and “AA Action by Surface Ships” reports previously submitted. LCSs performed innumerable duties during the campaign for Okinawa Gunto. During the landing operations on Love Day the assigned mission was to provide close in support with automatic weapon and barrage rockets. This was performed under the command of Captain T.C. Aylward, Commander Task Group 52.19.
After the beachhead was secured on Love Day, the LCS 34 was assigned to service and salvage duty under Captain Curtis, CTG 51.6, and served as a salvage vessel until relieved on 13 April. It was again demonstrated these vessels were not suited for this type of work.
On 14 April, the 34 reported to Captain Moosebrugger, CTG 51.5 for duty on Radar Picket Stations, and reported to R.P. No. 14 on 15 April. This station was about seventy-two miles from Zampa Misaki (reference point – “Point Bolo”), Okinawa, on a bearing of 326.5 degrees True. The task units assigned to these stations, during the early stages of the campaign, were pitifully small. A DD, a DM, an LSM(R), the 34 and part-time air support formed the buffer between Okinawa and Japan for the sector to which they were assigned. There seemed to be no plans for tactical maneuvering or mutual support. On many occasions the DDs and DMs would be ten miles or more from the slower, smaller, lightly armed ships. The result nullified the advantages which could have been gained from mutual support against enemy suicide attacks.
On the morning of 16 April, the USS PRINGLE (DD-477) and USS HARRY F. BAUER (DM-26) were operating about ten miles from LCS 34 and the LSM(R) 191. Both groups were attacked by Japanese suicide planes. Of three enemy Vals attacking the LCS 34, one was splashed, one probably splashed and the third gave up his attack when all guns were brought to bear on him. Successful attacks on the part of the enemy resulted in the sinking of PRINGLE. The 34 assisted with the rescue of the survivors and succeeded in picking of seventy-seven men and ten officers.
More effective tactical plans were developed for R.P. stations and, before the end of the campaign, three DDs, four LCSs and constant CAP (Combat Air Patrol) coverage were on each station.
The 34 patrolled on R.P. No. 10 from 19 through 25 April, and then returned to the Hagushi anchorages for night Skunk (suicide boat) Patrol duty and a daylight station on the AA screen.
Duty under Captain Rimer, Commander Task Unit 52.9.332.9.3, began on 27 April when the 34 reported to Sopa (Senior Officer Present Afloat) Representative Nago Wan for smoke screen and AA duties. Enemy air raids were frequent. Most of the Japanese pilots followed the policy of flying low over land masses to confuse our radar, and Nago was on the main North-South line. Several suicide attacks were made on vessels at anchor on Nago Wan, but the U.S.S. HALL YOUNG sustained the only damage. Bombs were dropped on two occasions, but caused no damage to shipping in the harbor. The Nago area had been secured, but enemy patrols continued to infiltrate and attack the Army installations and Navy Boat Pool. It was suspected, on several occasions, that enemy boarding parties would attack shipping in the harbor, but the attacks did not materialize. Details of action encountered at Nago are contained in previously submitted reports.
On 28 May the 34, with the LCS 35, was ordered to Unten Ko off the southern coast of Kouri Shima, to provide a screen for the U.S.S. PGM-17, beached on a reef in the nearby channel. This duty ended on 3 June when the ship returned to Hagushi and availability alongside the U.S.S. ASCHELUS (ARL-1).
The 34 reported to Commander Phillips, CTU 32.9.11, on 15 June for Radar Picket duty, and departed Hagushi on 16 June for R.P. No. 9. As previously pointed out, the task groups on R.P. stations had been strengthened considerably since the early days. Three DDs, four LCSs and adequate CAP coverage were serving on each station. The 34 was serving on R.P. No. 9 when Okinawa was declared secured on 22 June, and returned to Hagushi the following day. Minor repairs to the ship were effected. The ship served on AA and smoke screen duties until she reported to Nakagusuku Wan on 30 June for screening duties. Duty at Nakagusuku Wan terminated on 3 July and the ship returned to Hagushi for logistics prior to departing for a rear area.
LCS 34 departed Okinawa on 6 July as Division Two Guide of Task Unit 99.1.27, with LC(FF) 484 as Division One Guide; Captain T.C. Aylward, aboard LC(FF) 988, in command. LCSs 31, 35 32, 36 and 51 in column astern this vessel sailed en route to San Pedro Bay, Leyte, P.I. All ships fired AA batteries at balloon targets on 7 and 8 July. We arrived San Pedro Bay on 10 July. The ship was in availability alongside U.S.S. PROMETHEUS(AR-3) from 13 through 21 July. On 31 July she was docked in AFD-26 for hull and pitch control repairs. While in dry dock, one coat of cold plastic was applied to the hull below the waterline. The 34 floated out of dry dock in early August and continued with minor repairs and logistics.
News that the Japanese were accepting the surrender terms as set forth by the Potsdam Declaration was received at 2100 on 10 August. The ensuing display of ship’s pyrotechnics, flashing of searchlights, ringing of bells, and whistles blowing, was a never-to-be-forgotten experience. Assigned availability alongside U.S.S. AJAX (AR-6) from 14 through 21 August for alteration to sea chest and installation of wiring for an additional searchlight. Following availability the compass was compensated, main engines were synchronized and a full combat load of ammunition and rockets was taken aboard.
The 34 remained in San Pedro Bay, carrying out routine work and taking advantage of the limited recreational facilities in the area until 17 September. We departed San Pedro Bay on 17 September, in convoy for Okinawa, in accordance with Com LCS(L) Flotilla Five Operation Order No. 3-45. We arrived in Buckner Bay, Okinawa on 21 September, engaged in logistics and departed with LCS Group Seven the following day. We were en route to Wakayama, Honshu, Japan to join Amphibious Group Eight of the Fifth Fleet and participate in the occupation of southeastern Honshu as part of the Eastern Occupation Group. We arrived at our destination on 25 September and anchored at Latitude 34 degrees, 14 minutes North; Longitude 135 degrees, 5 minutes East.
Duty at Wakayama varied between anchoring on night screening stations to seaward of the transport area, keeping Japanese fishing boats beached, and seeking shelter from typhoons. A complete report of duties performed while at Wakayama is contained in this vessel’s “War Diary” for October, 1945.
The 34 departed Wakayama on 24 October in company with the LC(FF) 484 and the LCSs 31, 51, 52, 54 and 57; six LSTs, five LSMs and one LCI(L), bound for Nagoya, Honshu, Japan with CTU 39.26 in command.
We arrived in Nagoya on 25 October and anchored in the outer harbor for the night. The original operation order designated that the occupation landings were to be made over White Horse Island at Yokkaichi (about 20 miles from Nagoya), but the amphibious vessels moved into Nagoya harbor after noon on 26 October and the 34 moored to Anchor Buoy No. 2. Transports and other shipping followed. Duties at Nagoya were comparatively light. A mail run from the USS WASATCH (AGC-9) in the inner harbor to the USS MURPHY (DD-603) anchored at Yokkaichi was made on 28 October. On 6 November, the ship departed Nagoya to rendezvous with USS RUSHMORE (LSD-14) at Point Horse the following morning. LCS 34 escorted her through the swept channel to Yokkaichi and returned to our anchor buoy in the inner harbor.
On 13 November the 34, in company with LC(FF) 484 and LCSs 31, 51, 52, 54 and 57 departed Nagoya for Jinsen, Chosen (Chemulpo, Korea). We arrived Jinsen on 18 November and reported to Commander LCS(L) Flotilla Three for duty. We were assigned to Captain R.E. Arison, U.S.N., CTG 71.3 and Commander LCS(L) Flotilla One to operate under Operation Plan ComLCS(L)Flot One No. 2-45. The general situation is set forth in ComSeventhFleet OpPlan 13-45, ComCruDiv 16 OpPlan 10-45 and modification as presented in current dispatches.
To summarize this phase of LCS 34’s duty, she served during the initial phases of the Iwo Jima Campaign, throughout the campaign for the Okinawa Gunto, was credited with four Japanese suicide planes – two splashes, one assist and one probable, and sustained neither personnel casualties nor battle damage.
The next phase of LCS 34’s service covers the history of the 34 from 18 November 1945, when the ship reported to the Seventh Fleet and arrived at Jinsen, Korea, until 6 May 1946 when the 34 tied up at Green Cove Springs, Florida to report for inactive duty with the Sixteenth Fleet.
The problems of scarce provisions, supplies and personnel along with the necessity of shifting anchorages frequently due to swift and highly variable currents caused no end of trouble at Korea. Alongside availability was obtained from ARL 1 from 21 November to 28 November for routine repairs. The LCS 34 was dry docked in the LSD 7 from 28 November to 29 November for routine hull, propeller and rudder repair.
From 4 December to 10 December the 34 and the LCS 42 were assigned mine patrol duty south of Jinsen in the Yellow Sea along the main shipping route to Okinawa. Two 36-inch floating mines were sighted and sunk by this vessel. Equipment aboard was totally inadequate for this type assignment. Lookouts stationed at various positions on the ship served as the only method of mine detection.
On the evening of 10 December, the long trip halfway around the world back to the states officially began. While en route back to Jinsen, Korea, orders were received by radio to reverse course for Okinawa, and to rendezvous there with ComLCSFlotOne for further passage to Guam and the United States of America. For four long months the crew of the 34 had been waiting and hoping for these orders.
But the days and months ahead were destined to be trying ones. Experienced personnel had left or were leaving at each step. Engines and other machines, built for but one operation, began to tell the strain of two major operations and a completed tour of the Orient. Each port found more work to be accomplished, less time for it by inexperienced men, and each period underway brought to light new difficulties to be reckoned with.
This ship with the LCS 42 obtained logistics at Buckner Bay, Okinawa on 13 and 14 December, then rendezvoused on 15 December with the convoy of LCSs, with ComLCSFlotOne on Flag Ship LC(FF) 484 as guide. On 16 December orders were received to route the convoy through Saipan in the Marianas instead of Guam.
Christmas 1945 was spent at Saipan working to accomplish the necessary repairs for the onward journey.
Saipan – 21 December to 27 December 1945
Eniwetok, Marshall Islands – 1 January to 3 January 1946
Pearl Harbor, Hawaiian Islands – 14 January to 22 January 1946
San Pedro, California – 3 February 1946
During the passage from Pearl Harbor to San Pedro, California serious engine trouble developed every day. Transfer of spare parts and trained personnel from LCS 48 was accomplished in rough waters. Three engines were completely overhauled underway.
But then was not the time to rest. The 34 was scheduled to report to New Orleans, LA for availability and onward routing to Green Cove Springs, Florida for duty in the Sixteenth Fleet.
At 0930 on 3 February 1946, Lt. J. Brad Seely, USNR turned over command of the LCS 34 to LT. (jg) Frazer Banks Jr., USNR. At the ceremony Navy Commendation Ribbons were awarded to Grande, J.G. PhM 2/c, and Farmer, F.N. GM 3/c for heroic action while picking up survivors from the PRINGLE (DD-477) on 16 April 1945 at Okinawa. Williams, J. StM 1/c and Schaefer, C. GM 3/c were given Commanding Officer’s Commendations for the same action.
Availability was obtained alongside YR 27 from 8 February to 26 February at Cerritos Channel, Terminal Island. The urgent repairs necessary for onward routing to New Orleans were slowed because of inadequate personnel, and strikes caused difficulty in obtaining engine spare parts. Five main engines, fuel pumps, gyro and radar were completely overhauled. All ammunition was transferred to Seal Beach, California.
The LCS 34, in company with LC(FF) 536 and LSM 138 left San Pedro 28 February for Balboa, Canal Zone. All necessary machinery had been overhauled, and personnel were adequate enough for the trip through the Panama Canal.
We arrived in Balboa at midnight 11 March 1946. Minor engine repairs were accomplished in time to go through the Canal the morning of 12 March.
LCS 34 arrived at Coco Solo Naval Base in Colon the evening of 12 March. On 13 March the LCS 34 scraped bottom just off berth One Able while attempting to maneuver away from the dock against a strong wind. Investigation of damage by a diver showed dry-docking would be necessary to replace the screws. Rather than delay indefinitely at Panama, arrangements were made for the ship to be towed to New Orleans by the ARL 16.
We departed Coco Solo on 15 March in tow for New Orleans, and arrived at the southwest pass of the Mississippi River the morning of 21 March.
The LCS 34 arrived at New Orleans, Louisiana on the morning of 22 March. Availability was assigned at the Naval Repair Base, Algiers. Drydocking was accomplished in YFD 41 from 23 April to 29 April. Necessary repairs were made to all machinery, skegs and rudder posts. Screws were replaced. The whole ship was scraped and painted from yardarm to bottom, inside and out. Preservation of all guns was begun.
The ship sailed from New Orleans on 1 May 1946 with LCS 38 on her last journey to Green Cove Springs, Florida.
The entrance to the St. John’s River was sighted on 5 May 1946. Passage up the river to Jacksonville was made before sunset. The 34 continued up the river on 6 May and arrived at Green Cove Springs, Florida that afternoon. Ahead lay a period of disorganization and hard work; a period of the tremendous task of de-commissioning a ship with only a handfull of men.
Behind the LCS 34 lay a history of two major combat operations, with no lives lost, and the record of a fighting ship.
|Back to the Navsource Photo Archives Main Page||Back To The Amphibious Ship Type Index||Back To The Landing Craft Support (LCS(L)(3) Photo Index||Back To The LCS(L)-34 Main Page|
|Comments, Suggestions, E-mail Webmaster.|
This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo|