LST-1171 De Soto County
Eight tank landing ships were authorized in FY1955; one was cancelled shortly thereafter. This improved LST had greater speed and troop capacity than earlier ships of this category. It was considered the 'ultimate' design attainable with traditional bow door configuration. The design featured a high degree of habitality with all crew and troop spaces air conditioned. It could carry 28 medium tanks or vehicles to 75 tons on 288" long tank deck.
In amphibious warfare the Korean experience had consequences for new construction. The extraordinary usefulness of the LST resulted in an immediate program for 15 of the 1156 series, a development of earlier experimental types, longer (384 as compared to 328 feet), faster (15 as opposed to 11 knots), and of larger capacity than their elder sisters; these began launching in mid-1952. The next step came two years later with the laying down of the first of seven Suffolk County class LSTs - 442 feet overall, 7,100 tons full load displacement, 17 knots-which would carry 20 amphibious vehicles and 700 troops in air-conditioned spaces. This, it appeared, was about as far as the type could go, despite the enthusiasm of some officers who, on the basis of Korean experience, appealed for clouds of these ships to replace rather than supplement the APA and AKA types.
These seven ships would form the DeSoto County (LST-1171) class. Jane's Fighting Ships, 1971-72 called this class the Suffolk Class. The Suffok County was initially the third unit, numbered 1173, and it became the second as the contract for the 1172 was not awarded. The Suffolk was launchd on 05 September 1956 by the Boston Navy Yard, six months before the DeSoto County was launched 0n 28 February 1957 at Avondale in New Orleans.
Six were withdrawn from service in 1972 and one, Graham County (LST-1176), converted to a patrol gunboat support ship (AGP-176) which would serve at Naples, Italy. She was withdrawn from service in 1977. Two were transferred to Italy, one to Brazil, and the remainder laid up in reserve.
The Wood County was to be converted to a support ship for the "Pegasus" class PHM's, but deleted by the Carter Administration. Attempts later to reinstate the conversion failed.
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