The Emblem of the Louisiana State Militia

Louisiana's Military Heritage:

     Vessels named USS VERMILION

Seal of the U.S. Navy


 

USS VERMILION

 

 

Only one vessel of the U.S. Navy has had the honor to bear the name of VERMILION, representing not only a parish, river, and bay, on the south-central coast of Louisiana, but also a county in eastern Illinois bordering the state of Indiana.


 

USS VERMILION (June 23, 1945 ~ April 13, 1971):

 

USS VERMILION (AKA-107) was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC Hull 1700) on October 17, 1944, at Wilmington, North Carolina, by the North Carolina Shipbuilding & Dry-dock Company. She was launched on December 12, 1944, and was sponsored by Mrs. Rex Freeman. Delivered to the Navy incomplete on December 23, 1944, the vessel was moved to the Todd Shipyard at Brooklyn, New York, and completed as a Navy attack cargo ship. She was placed in commission at Brooklyn on June 23, 1945, with Captain F. B. Eggers in command.

 

Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet and based at Norfolk, Virginia, VERMILION spent more than a year after commissioning engaged in shakedown cruises and refresher training. This routine occupied her time until late in 1946. In November of that year, she made a cruise to South American waters and resumed duty out of Norfolk upon her return. She resumed normal fleet operations—including midshipman summer training cruises, amphibious exercises, type training, and reserve training cruises—for almost three years. On August 26, 1949, she was decommissioned and berthed with the Reserve Fleet Group located at Orange, Texas.

 

USS VERMILION (AKA-107) as seen sometime during the late 1950s or 1960s.

USS VERMILION (AKA/LKA-107) served in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Fleets throughout most of the Cold War era.

Photo courtesy of NavSource.

 

 

The outbreak of the Korean War in the summer of 1950 interrupted her inactivity. VERMILION was placed back into commission at Orange on October 16, 1950, with Capt. A. Jackson in command. Though the Korean War occasioned her return to active duty, she never saw service in that conflict. Instead, she replaced more combat-ready ships in the Atlantic Fleet and released them for duty in the Far East.

 

After shakedown training, the attack cargo ship began normal operations with the Atlantic Fleet. That employment continued until the summer of 1951 when she participated in Operation Bluejay, the first large-scale seaborne lift of supplies to the new air base under construction at Thule, Greenland. She returned from that mission to Norfolk on August 29, 1951, and resumed operations with the Atlantic Fleet. During the summer of 1952, the ship returned to Thule on another supply mission. She completed that operation on August 25 when she returned to Norfolk and to duty with the Atlantic Fleet. The end of the year and the beginning of 1953 saw her operating in the West Indies out of the base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She returned to Norfolk on February 02 and once again started normal duty out of that port.

 

For the next five years, VERMILION participated in Atlantic Fleet amphibious exercises at Onslow Beach, North Carolina, and in the Caribbean. She also conducted independent ship's exercises and made cruises the length of the Atlantic seaboard. In June of 1958, the attack cargo ship left the east coast of the United States for a six-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea. She returned home in December and resumed her normal schedule of operations. Her routine of amphibious exercises, independent ship's exercises, and the like continued until the fall of 1962 when she was deployed to the West Indies to support the American quarantine of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Following that mission, the ship returned once again to her familiar routine of operations out of Norfolk. In May of 1963, she once more departed the East Coast for a deployment with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean.

 

VERMILION returned to Norfolk on October 17, 1963, and began another four-year stint of operations along the Atlantic seaboard and in the Caribbean. In January of 1968, she departed Morehead City, North Carolina, with Marine Air Control Squadron 6, bound for the Ryukyus via the Panama Canal and Pearl Harbor. She arrived in Buckner Bay, Okinawa, on February 22 and departed those islands on February 25 with Marine Air Squadron 8 embarked. She disembarked the air squadron at Morehead City on March 30 and returned to Norfolk on the following day. VERMILION was redesignated as LKA-107 on August 14, 1968, after a six-month overhaul at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. She resumed Atlantic Fleet operations in November of that year and continued to operate out of Norfolk for over two years. On April 13, 1971, the ship was decommissioned at Norfolk and was transferred to the Maritime Administration (MARAD) on July 27, 1971, for lay-up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet at James River, Virginia. Her name was struck from the Navy list on January 01, 1977.

 

On March 04, 1988, VERMILION was transferred from MARAD to the National Artificial Reef Program and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. She was sunk in an upright position in 107 feet of water off the coast near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She was due, however, for one final cruise. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo struck the South Carolina coast on the evening of September 21 with winds of 138 mph and a 20 foot storm surge atop astronomically high tides. The storm lifted the 8,600 ton VERMILION from her watery grave and moved the old transport almost a quarter of a mile before depositing her back on the ocean floor, still upright, but with a slight list to one side. She now rests in 130 feet of water and is a popular site for recreational divers.

 

Ship's Statistics

 

Class

Tollund

Keel Laid

October 17, 1944

Launched

December 12, 1944

Commissioned

June 23, 1945

Final Decommissioning

April 13, 1971

Displacement

8,635 tons (light load)

13,910 tons (full load)

Length

459 ft., 2 in.

Beam (width)

63 ft.

Draft (depth)

26 ft., 4 in.

Speed 16.50 knots

Propulsion

Steam turbine (6,000 shp)

Crew

425 officers & enlisted

Armament

One 5"/38-cal. gun mount

Four 40mm twin-barreled anti-aircraft gun mounts

Sixteen 20mm single-barreled AA gun mounts

Boats

Fourteen LCVPs (Landing Craft—Vehicle Personnel)

Eight LCMs (Landing Craft—Mechanized)
Cargo Capacity 380,000 cu. ft. (5,275 tons)

 

 

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All information listed above courtesy of the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, NavSource, and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
All photos courtesy of U.S. Navy unless otherwise noted.

 

**Copyright 1997-2007 by Louisiana Naval War Memorial Commission**