Warship Wednesday October 26, 2016: The mighty midget with the most miles on her

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday October 26, 2016: The mighty midget with the most miles on her

Photo by Russel Javier, USS LCS-102 page

Photo by Russel Javier, USS LCS-102 page

Here we see LCS(L)(3)-1-class Landing Craft Support (Large)(Mark3)#102 as she appears today at Mare Island.

Talk about a mouthful.

With the urgent need for shallow draft craft for amphibious operations on the beaches of North Africa, Italy, France, and of course the Pacific in World War II, the U.S. Navy urgently ordered a myriad of Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) vessels to discharge troops and gear right on the surfline.

Over 900 of these hardy little 158-foot boats were built, each capable of plugging away on their Detroit diesels at 16 knots while carrying a full company of infantry.

To give these LCIs some close in support, the unimaginatively named Landing Craft, Support (Large) was designed.

Using the same hull as the LCIs, these craft were loaded with a single 3″/50 dual purpose gun mount on the bow,  two twin 40mm Bofors fore and aft, four single 20mm AA gun mounts, four .50 cals and– most importantly–10 MK7 rocket launchers.

Each launcher contained a dozen or more 30-pound 4.5-inch Beach Barrage Rockets (BBR) which had an 1,100-yard range, meaning the 158-foot flat bottom boat could smother an enemy-held coast with 120+ rockets faster than you can say “sauerkraut sammich.”

4-5in_usn_br_rocket

Beach Barrage Rockets being loaded USS LCI(G)-456 during the invasion of Peleliu, September 1944. US National Archives photo #'s 257558

Beach Barrage Rockets being loaded USS LCI(G)-456 during the invasion of Peleliu, September 1944. US National Archives photo #’s 257558

rockets

This punch in a small package gave them the moniker “mighty midgets.”

They certainly were distinctive, as noted by these detailed shots of class member USS LCS-50

USS LCS(L)(3) 50. Description: Courtesy of James C. Fahey collection, U.S. Naval Institute Catalog #: NH 81533

USS LCS(L)(3) 50. Description: Courtesy of James C. Fahey collection, U.S. Naval Institute Catalog #: NH 81533

USS LCS(L)(3) 50 Caption: At Albina Engine and Machine Works Portland, Oregon, September 1944. Courtesy of James C. Fahey collection, U.S. Naval Institute Catalog #: NH 81532

USS LCS(L)(3) 50 Caption: At Albina Engine and Machine Works Portland, Oregon, September 1944. Courtesy of James C. Fahey collection, U.S. Naval Institute Catalog #: NH 81532

USS LCS(L)(3) 50 Caption: At Albina Engine and Machine Works Portland, Oregon, 19 September 1944. Courtesy of James C. Fahey collection, U.S. Naval Institute Catalog #: NH 81530

USS LCS(L)(3) 50 Caption: At Albina Engine and Machine Works Portland, Oregon, 19 September 1944. Courtesy of James C. Fahey collection, U.S. Naval Institute Catalog #: NH 81530

USS LCS(L)(3) 50 At Albina Engine and Machine Works Portland, Oregon, 19 September 1944. Courtesy of James C. Fahey collection, U.S. Naval Institute. Catalog #: NH 81527

USS LCS(L)(3) 50 At Albina Engine and Machine Works Portland, Oregon, 19 September 1944. Courtesy of James C. Fahey collection, U.S. Naval Institute. Catalog #: NH 81527

Most were given a very effective Camouflage Measure 33 scheme in the Pacific

Most were given a very effective Camouflage Measure 33 scheme in the Pacific

A total of 130 LCS’s were built late in the war–in a period as short as 10 days per hull in some cases– by three yards: George Lawley & Son, Commercial Iron Works and Albina Engine Works, with the former in Massachusetts and the latter two in Oregon.

The subject of our tale, USS LCS(L)(3)-102, was a CIW-built model that was laid down 13 Jan 1945, commissioned a scant month later on 17 February, and by July was supporting landings off Okinawa.

lcs-102

LCS(L)(3)-102 underway off the Island of Kyushu, Japan, September 1945. National Association of USS LCS(L) 1-130

LCS(L)(3)-102 underway off the Island of Kyushu, Japan, September 1945. National Association of USS LCS(L) 1-130

Her war ended just a few weeks later but she did have a chance to earn one battlestar for her WWII service before transitioning to help serve in the occupation forces in Japan along with service off China through 8 April 1946. Not all were as lucky– six LCS(L)(3)s were sunk and 21 were damaged during WWII.

Decommissioned 30 April, LCS-102 was laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet, Columbia River Group, Astoria, Oregon where she was reclassified while on red lead row as USS LSSL-102, 28 February 1949.

Most of the LCS’s had been rode hard and put up wet, as evidenced by this little ship:

USS LCS(L)(3)-13 In San Francisco Bay, California, soon after the end of World War II. The Golden Gate Bridge is in the left background. Courtesy of William H. Davis, 1977. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 85170

USS LCS(L)(3)-13 In San Francisco Bay, California, soon after the end of World War II. The Golden Gate Bridge is in the left background. Courtesy of William H. Davis, 1977. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 85170

Surplus to the Navy’s needs, LCS-102/LSSL-102 was transferred to the burgeoning Japanese Self Defense Forces 30 April 1953 who renamed her JDS Himawari. This was not uncommon as most LCS remaining in U.S. service were given away to overseas allies– some even going right back into combat for instance with the French in Indochina.

As for LCS-102, she served Japan quietly as a coastal patrol vessel, with the JSDF retiring her in 1966.

With the little 158-footer back in their possession and even less need for her than in 1953, the U.S. Navy re-gifted the vessel to the Royal Thai Navy who commissioned her as HTMS Nakha (LSSL-751).

Still largely unmodified from her WWII appearance with the exception of her Mk7s being removed, the ship continued in Thai service for another four decades– though with a new engineering suite.

Photo courtesy The Mighty Midgets website.

Photo courtesy The Mighty Midgets website.

Retired sometime around 2007, a veterans group of former LCS sailors found out about her and, being the last of her class anywhere, sought out to bring her home.

HTMS Nakha (LSSL-751). The last of the World War II LCSs is docked at Laem Tien Pier at Sattahip Naval Base ahead of her transfer ceremonies prior to setting off on her final voyage back home to the United States. Pattaya, Thailand, Friday June 1 2007

HTMS Nakha (LSSL-751). The last of the World War II LCSs is docked at Laem Tien Pier at Sattahip Naval Base ahead of her transfer ceremonies prior to setting off on her final voyage back home to the United States. Pattaya, Thailand, Friday June 1 2007. Via Navsource.

From an SF Gate article at the time:

The vets, who had formed a nonprofit organization called the National Association of USS LCS(L) 1-130, talked the U.S. State Department and the Thais into giving the ship to them.

“I talked to the Thai navy officer who was the first captain of this ship in the Thai navy,” said Bill Mason, 82, “He’s retired himself now but he thought the same way about this ship that we do. They were sorry to see it go.”

Loaded as deck cargo on the freighter Da Fu, she was shipped 7,900 miles to San Francisco Bay where she was installed at the Mare Island National Historic Park in November 2007 and has been since restored and put on display as a museum ship.

1005010208

From the USS LCS-2 social media page:

281868_212440335474809_7200956_n

Below is a good tour of the ship if you cannot make it (the music ends and the actual tour begins at about the 1:40 mark).

Please check out the official website of the National Association of USS LCS(L) 1-130 “The Mighty Midgets” for more information on these amphibious gunboats of World War II.

Specs:

Camouflage Measure 33, Design 14L. Drawing prepared by the Bureau of Ships for a camouflage scheme intended for landing craft, support (large) of the LCS(L)-3 class. This plan, approved by Captain Torvald A. Solberg, USN, is dated 26 July 1944. It shows the ship's starboard side, horizontal surfaces, stern and superstructure ends. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Catalog #: 19-N-73633

Camouflage Measure 33, Design 14L. Drawing prepared by the Bureau of Ships for a camouflage scheme intended for landing craft, support (large) of the LCS(L)-3 class. This plan, approved by Captain Torvald A. Solberg, USN, is dated 26 July 1944. It shows the ship’s starboard side, horizontal surfaces, stern and superstructure ends. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives.
Catalog #: 19-N-73633

Displacement 250 t (lt), 387 t (fl)
Length 158′ o.a.
Beam 23′ 8″
Draft:
5′ 8″ limiting and max draft
loaded, 4′ 9″ fwd, 6′ 6″ aft
Speed:
14.4 trial
16.5k max at 650 shaft rpm
14.5kts at 585 shaft rpm
Armor 10-lb STS splinter shield to gun mounts, pilot house and conning tower
Complement:
8 Officers
70 Enlisted
Endurance 5,500 miles at 12kts at 45″ pitch (350 tons dspl.)
Fuel/Stores
635 Bbls Diesel (76 tons)
10 tons fresh water
6 tons lubrication oil
8 tons provisions and stores at full load
Fresh Water Capacity distill up to 1,000 gals. per day
Propulsion:
As built:
2 quad packs of 4 General Motors 6051 series 71 Diesel engines per shaft, BHP 1,600
single General Motors Main Reduction Gears
2 Diesel-drive 60Kw 450V. A. C. Ships Service Generators
twin variable pitch propellers
*Thai service saw the GMs swapped out for Maybach Mercedes MTU V8s
Armament (as built)
bow gun, one single 3″/50 dual purpose gun mount
two twin 40mm AA gun mounts
four single 20mm AA gun mounts
four .50 cal machine guns
ten MK7 rocket launchers (retired 1953)

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has it place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as GUNS.com, Univesity of Guns, Outdoor Hub, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the US federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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