Attack transport

Attack transport is a United States Navy ship classification for a variant of ocean-going troopship adapted to transporting invasion forces ashore. Unlike standard troopships – often drafted from the merchant fleet – that rely on either a quay or tenders, attack transports carry their own fleet of landing craft.

They are not to be confused with landing ships, which beach themselves to bring their troops directly ashore, or their general British equivalent, the Landing ship, infantry.

A total of 388 APA (troop) and AKA (cargo) attack transports were built for service in World War II in at least fifteen classes. Depending on class they were armed with one or two 5-inch guns and a variety of 40 mm and 20 mm anti-aircraft weapons.

By the late 1960s, 41 of these ships were redesignated as "Amphibious Transports", with the hull code "(LPA)", and another 13 ships were redesignated as "Amphibious Transport, Small" with hull code "(LPR)", but they all retained their names and hull numbers.

USS American Legion APA-17
USS American Legion was a Harris-class attack transport launched in 1919 that saw extensive service in World War II
USS McCawley landing rehearsal
Soldiers climb down netting on the sides of the attack transport USS McCawley on 14 June 1943, rehearsing for landings on New Georgia
USSHamblenAPA114
A loaded Bayfield-class attack transport, USS Hamblen, underway

Classification

In the early 1940s, as the United States Navy expanded in response to the threat of involvement in World War II, a number of civilian passenger ships and some freighters were acquired, converted to transports and given hull numbers in the AP series. Some of these were outfitted with heavy boat davits and other arrangements to enable them to handle landing craft for amphibious assault operations.

In 1942, when the AP number series had already extended beyond 100, it was decided that these amphibious warfare ships really constituted a separate category of warship from conventional transports. Therefore, the new classification of attack transport (APA) was created and numbers assigned to fifty-eight APs (AP #s 2, 8-12, 14-18, 25-27, 30, 34-35, 37-40, 48-52, 55-60, 64-65 and 78-101) then in commission or under construction.

The actual reclassification of these ships was not implemented until February 1943, by which time two ships that had APA numbers assigned (USS Joseph Hewes and USS Edward Rutledge) had been lost. Another two transports sunk in 1942, USS George F. Elliott and USS Leedstown, were also configured as attack transports but did not survive to be reclassified as such.

As World War II went on, dozens of new construction merchant ships of the United States Maritime Commission's S4, C2, C3 and VC2 ("Victory") types were converted to attack transports, taking the list of APA numbers to 247, though fourteen ships (APAs 181-186 and APAs 240-247) were cancelled before completion. In addition, as part of the 1950s modernization of the Navy's amphibious force with faster ships, two more attack transports (APA-248 and APA-249) were converted from new Mariner-class freighters.

Classes

Classes of attack transports included:

In use

Despite an impressive assembly of forces, the Aleutian campaign and the Northern Pacific Theater ranked as Admiral Nimitz's third priority in the overall Pacific Theater for receiving materiel and support. As a result, only attack transport (APA) ships were assigned for the assault, without support from any companion attack cargo (AKA) ships. This created extreme logistics burdens for the invasion force because it resulted in considerable overloading of the transports with both men and equipment. To compound problems, these forces were not able to assemble or train together before executing the Aleutian invasion on 11 May 1943. Lack of equipment and training subsequently resulted in confusion during the landings on Attu.

Demise

By the end of the 1950s, it was clear that boats would soon be superseded by amphibious tractors (LVTs) and air assault helicopters for landing combat assault troops. These could not be supported by attack transports in the numbers required, and new categories of amphibious ships began to replace APAs throughout the 1960s. By 1969, when the surviving attack transports were redesignated as "amphibious transports" (LPA) (retaining their previous numbers), only a few remained in commissioned service. The last of these were decommissioned in 1980 and sold abroad, leaving only a few thoroughly obsolete World War II era hulls still laid up in the Maritime Administration's reserve fleet. The APA/LPA designation may, therefore, now be safely considered extinct.

In fiction

The 1956 movie Away All Boats presents operations on an attack transport. It was based on a popular novel of the same name, written by an officer who served on one during World War 2.[1]

See also

References

  1. ^ AWAY ALL BOATS
Arthur Middleton-class attack transport

The Arthur Middleton-class attack transport was a class of three US Navy attack transport that saw most of its service in World War II. Ships of the class were named after signatories of the American Declaration of Independence.

Like all attack transports, the purpose of the Arthur Middleton class was to transport troops and their equipment to hostile shores in order to execute amphibious invasions. To perform this task, attack transports were equipped with a substantial number of integral landing craft, and heavily armed with antiaircraft weaponry to protect themselves and their vulnerable cargo of troops from air attack in the battle zone.

Bayfield-class attack transport

The Bayfield-class attack transport was a class of US Navy attack transports that were built during World War II.

With the entry of the United States into the war, it was quickly realized that amphibious combat operations on hostile shores would be required, and that specialized ships would be needed for the purpose. The so-called "attack transport" ship type (hull classification symbol APA) was developed to meet this need. Attack transports were converted from standard transport vessels by being upgraded with extra firepower, and outfitted with a number of smaller integral landing craft (such as LCVPs and LCMs) with which amphibious assaults could be conducted.

The first attack transports began to enter service in 1942 and were built ad hoc from a host of different types. The first class to be built in substantial numbers was the Bayfield class, which began to enter service in 1943. The early vessels were converted from existing cargo or transport ships, later ones built as attack transports from the keel up.

Frederick Funston-class attack transport

The Frederick Funston-class attack transport was a class of two US Navy attack transports. They saw service in World War II and later in the Korean War.

Attack transports were a special type of transport ship designed to transport troops and their equipment over long distances to hostile shores, and then execute an amphibious invasion at the destination, using an array of smaller integral assault boats. Like all attack transports, the Frederick Funston class was generously armed with antiaircraft weaponry to protect itself and its vulnerable cargo of troops from air attack in the battle zone.

Gilliam-class attack transport

The Gilliam-class attack transport was a class of attack transport built for service with the US Navy in World War II.

Like all attack transports, the purpose of the Gilliams was to transport troops and their equipment to foreign shores in order to execute amphibious invasions using an array of smaller amphibious assault boats carried by the attack transport itself. Like all the attack transports, the Gilliam-class was heavily armed with antiaircraft weaponry to protect itself and its cargo of troops from air attack in the battle zone.

Haskell-class attack transport

Haskell-class attack transports (APA) were amphibious assault ships of the United States Navy created in 1944. They were designed to transport 1,500 troops and their combat equipment, and land them on hostile shores with the ships' integral landing craft.

The Haskells were very active in the World War II Pacific Theater of Operations, landing Marines and Army troops and transporting casualties at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Ships of the class were among the first Allied ships to enter Tokyo Bay at the end of World War II, landing the first occupation troops at Yokosuka. After the end of World War II, most participated in Operation Magic Carpet, the massive sealift of US personnel back to the United States. A few of the Haskell class were reactivated for the Korean War, with some staying in service into the Vietnam War.

The Haskell class, Maritime Commission standard type VC2-S-AP5, is a sub‑type of the World War II Victory ship design. 117 were launched in 1944 and 1945, with 14 more being finished as another VC2 type or canceled. Built by the War Shipping Administration under the Emergency Shipbuilding program.

List of ship launches in 1944

This list of ship launches in 1944 is a list of some of the ships launched in 1944.

Ormsby-class attack transport

The Ormsby-class attack transport was a class of US Navy attack transport that saw service in World War II.

Like all attack transports, the purpose of the Ormsbys was to transport troops and their equipment to hostile shores in order to execute amphibious invasions using an array of smaller assault boats integral to the attack transport itself. Like all the attack transports, the Ormsby class was well armed with antiaircraft weaponry to protect itself and its cargo of troops from air attack in the battle zone.

USS Bergen

USS Bergen (APA-150) was a Haskell-class attack transport acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II for the task of transporting troops to and from combat areas.

Bergen (APA 150) was laid down on 25 October 1944 at Vancouver, Washington, by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Co. under a Maritime Commission contract (MCV hull 815); launched on 5 December 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Donald Campbell; delivered to the Navy on 22 December 1944; and commissioned on 23 December 1944 at Astoria, Oregon, Capt. Ralston B. Vanzant in command.

USS Bosque (APA-135)

USS Bosque (APA-135) was a Haskell-class attack transport built and used by the US Navy in World War II. She was a Victory ship design, VC2-S-AP5. She was named after Bosque County, Texas, United States.

USS Botetourt

USS Botetourt (APA-136) was a Haskell-class attack transport built and used by the US Navy in World War II and saw further service during the Korean War. She was a Victory ship design, VC2-S-AP5. She was named after Botetourt County, Virginia, United States.

USS Bowie (APA-137)

USS Bowie (APA-137) was a Haskell-class attack transport acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II for the task of transporting troops to and from combat areas.

Bowie (APA-137) was laid down on 28 August 1944 at Wilmington, California, by the California Shipbuilding Corp. under a Maritime Commission contract (MCV hull 53); launched on 31 October 1944; sponsored by Mrs. J. Shaw; delivered to the Navy on 21 December 1944: and commissioned on 23 December 1944 at Terminal Island, California, Comdr. Frank L. Durnell in command.

USS Buckingham (APA-141)

USS Buckingham (APA-141) was a Haskell-class attack transport acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II for the task of transporting troops to and from combat areas.

Buckingham (APA 141) was laid down on 9 September 1944 at Wilmington, California, by the California Shipbuilding Corp. under a Maritime Commission contract (MCV hull 57); launched on 13 November 1944; sponsored by Mrs. S. J. Dickey; towed to Vancouver, Washington, for completion by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Co.; transferred to the Navy on 23 January 1945; and commissioned that same day, Capt. Henry G. Moran in command.

USS Hempstead (APA-241)

The second proposed USS Hempstead (AVP-43) was a United States Navy attack transport that was never laid down.

Hempstead was to have been a Haskell-class attack transport, attack transports differing from conventional transports in being specifically designed to unload their troops and cargo over the side into boats, less efficient for hauling troops and cargo but far more efficient for unloading them in an amphibious landing. The Haskell class was based on a re-designed version of the civilian Victory Ship hull.

Hempstead was excess to requirements after the end of World War II, and the Maritime Commission contract with Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, Portland, Oregon, for her construction was cancelled on 27 August 1947 before construction began.

USS Laurens (APA-153)

USS Laurens (APA-153) was a Haskell-class attack transport acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II for the task of transporting troops to and from combat areas.

Laurens, an attack transport, was launched by Oregon Shipbuilding Corp., Portland, Oregon, under Maritime Commission contract; sponsored by Mrs. James C. Black; acquired by the Navy 7 September 1944; and commissioned the same day, Capt. A. R. Ponto in command.

USS Meriwether (APA-203)

USS Meriwether (APA-203) was a Haskell-class attack transport that saw service with the US Army in World War II.

Meriwether was laid down 27 July 1944 by Kaiser Shipbuilding of Vancouver, Washington, launched 18 October 1944 and commissioned 4 November 1944, Capt. Angus M. Cohan in command.

USS Paul Revere (APA-248)

USS Paul Revere (APA/LPA-248) was the lead ship of the Paul Revere class of attack transport in the United States Navy. She was named for the early patriot, Paul Revere (1735–1818). She later served in the Spanish Navy as Castillia (L-21).

The ship was originally laid down as Maritime Administration Hull 27 on 15 May 1952 by the New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, New Jersey, and was launched on 11 April 1953 as the SS Diamond Mariner, sponsored by Mrs. Franklin Ewers. The ship was delivered to MARAD on 22 December 1953, and was operated by the Prudential Steamship Corp. for MARAD until placed in the Maritime Reserve Fleet on 24 July 1954. She was acquired by the US Navy on 14 September 1956, classified APA-248 and named Paul Revere on 4 June 1957, converted by Todd Shipyards, Los Angeles Division, San Pedro, California, and commissioned at Long Beach, California on 3 September 1958, Capt. Robert Erly in command.

USS Rawlins (APA-226)

USS Rawlins (APA-226) was a Haskell-class attack transport that saw service with the US Navy in World War II.

Rawlins was named after Rawlins County, Kansas. She was built under Maritime Commission contract (MCV hull 672), was laid down by Kaiser Shipbuilding of Vancouver, Washington on 10 August 1944, launched 21 October 1944, and delivered to the Maritime Commission 10 November 1941. She was acquired by the Navy on loan-charter basis and commissioned 11 November 1944, Comdr. C. S. Beightler in command.

USS Telfair (APA-210)

USS Telfair (APA/LPA-210) was a Haskell-class attack transport that saw service with the US Navy in World War II and the Korean War. She remained in service through most of the 1950s and 1960s, where she participated in various peacetime operations. Telfair was named for Telfair County, Georgia, which was itself named after Edward Telfair, the second Governor of the state, a member of the Continental Congress, and a signer of the Articles of Confederation.

Windsor-class attack transport

The Windsor-class attack transport was a class of nine US Navy attack transports. Ships of the class saw service in World War II.

Like all attack transports, the purpose of the Windsors was to transport troops and their equipment to foreign shores in order to execute amphibious invasions using an array of smaller assault boats integral to the attack transport itself. The class was well armed with antiaircraft weaponry to protect itself and its cargo of troops from air attack in the battle zone.

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