LSD-13 Casa Grande
Dock Landing Ships were conceived during WWII. They were designed to sail to the site of amphibious operations carrying landing craft and other amphibious vehicles which would them be launched directly from the ships well-deck.
After Newport News Shipbuilding built four built-for-Britain LSDs, they went on to build what would become the Casa Grande Class. Starting with the Casa Grande (LSD-13), the additional ships included, in order of their launching, Rushmore, Shadwell, Cabildo, Catamount, Colonial and Comstock (LSDs 14 through 19).
USS Casa Grande was the first ship of its name in the United States Navy. It was built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in Newport News, Va., and was commissioned June 5, 1944.
The ship extended 457 feet and 9 inches long and could make a maximum speed of 17 knots. The crew consisted of 237 enlisted 17 officers, with a detachment of 150 troops. The ship's well deck could carry 18 Landing Craft Mechanized (LCMs), as well as three Landing Craft Utility (LCUs).
Cabildo and Catamount were able to see the later stages of action in the Pacific only by virtue of the fact the ever efficient Newport News Shipbuilding had delivered the two ships some six months ahead of schedule, a rather amazing feat when one considers that the construction of these ships had been tacked on to an already full building schedule.
Eight more LSD were contracted for during the war years, seven of which were completed and delivered. Donner (LSD-20) and Fort Mandan (LSD-21) were built by the Naval Shipyard at Boston during early 1945 and were both in commission by October of that year.
Gulf Shipbuilding of Chicasaw, Alabama received the contracts for LSDs 22,23 and 24 but the war was drawing to a close. The USS Mandan (LSD-21) was launched in May 1945 but was not completed until January of 1946, six months after Japan's surrender. She was nevertheless commissioned and went on to enjoy a long and distinguished career serving into the 1970s.
The USS San Marcos (LSD-25) the single example of that type built by Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Laid down in September 1944 and commissioned in mid April 1945, she had just arrived off Okinawa with her first war cargo when the Japanese surrended in August. This ship, too, went on to enjoy lengthy career with the U.S. Navy and then was finally transferred to the Spanish Navy in mid 1971 where she served as the Galicia
The last two war-built LSDs, numbers 26 and 27, were also built by the Boston Naval Shipyard but were launched too late in the war to participate in combat operations. Both of these ships, the USS Tortuga (LSD-26) and the USS Whetstone (LSD-27) went on, however, to enjoy long service lives with the Navy.
LSD 13 engaged in several fleet and training exercises while attached to the Atlantic Amphibious Force. USS Casa Grande was decommissioned Oct. 23, 1946, and remained in the mothball fleet until November 1950 when it was placed again into full commission. It was decommissioned again Oct. 9, 1969, and finally taken out of the Navy register Nov. 1, 1976.
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