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Velasco LST (Landing Ship, Tank)

In the first third of the 20th century, the Spanish Navy was one of the few navies capable of successfully carrying out an amphibious operation on a coast dominated by enemy forces. In 1925, the landing at Alhucemas meant an inrush of Spanish troops into the heart of Rif territory (Morocco) dominated by Abd el Krim. This amphibious action, which included the landing of battle tanks, meant the start of the end of the conflict. Since the 1950s, the Spanish Navy has shown great interest in developing Marine Infantry forces and the ships destined for their transport and transfer to the coast.

The incidents at Ifni and the Sahara made it clear that there was a need for the Spanish Navy to have an amphibious component that would enable it to act beyond the Iberian peninsula. It should not forgotten that due to the urgent need to attend to the campaign, the French navy had to lend the Spanish Navy a certain number of LCM craft and an LST, the Odet, designate by the Spanish Navy as LST-1, and the French LSD support, Foudre, as "Buque X".

The official Spanish Navy website notes that in 1971 an LSD (dock landing ship) of the type Cabildo arrived in Spain, receiving the name of L-31 "Galicia". The meaning of a "Cabildo class" landing ship is not entirely clear. LSD 16 Cabildo is generally regarded as belonging to the LSD-13 Casa Grande class [LSD-13 through LSD-27]. Some units of the Ashland-class [LSD-13 through LSD-27] Dock Landing Ships, such A USS White Marsh (LSD-8), are sometimes referenced as belonging to the Ashland / Cabildo class. It is not apparent that the units LSD-16 Cabildo through LSD-27 had attributes different from prior LSDs.

The LSD is a type of ship that was conceived during World War II as a ship that could sail to the site of an amphibious landing, carry and launch assault boats directly from a well-deck in the rear of the vessel. To do this, the ship floods several tanks in the stern (rear) of the ship and ballasts the ship down, this floods the deck, and allows the boats aboard to come and go. LSD-25 San Marcos was built at Philadelphia Navy Yard; commissioned on April 15, 1945; and decommissioned on July 1, 1971. Stricken on August 1, 1974, she was transferred to Spain on July 1, 1971, renamed in Spanish service the L-31 Galicia, and purchased by Spain on August 1, 1974.

Positive experience obtained with the operation of the first L-31 Galicia, a US built LSD from the Second World War. Operations during the Green March and the evacuation of Western Sahara meant a very interesting combination of circumstances, above all because during that period the aircraft carrier Ddalo was not operational. She was decommissioned from Spanish Armada in 1988 and scrapped in 1989.

The reception of amphbious ships was completed in 1971/72 with the arrival of three LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank), L-11 Velasco, L-12 Martn lvarez and L-13 Conde de Venadito, of the Terrebonne Parish class.

Terrebonne Parish (LST-1156) was a LST, a Landing Ship Tank, the first of a new class of faster, roomier, more efficient, and better-armed LSTs that came into naval service in the early 1950s. Over a thousand LSTs were built on the LST-1 platform before this new class was launched in August 1952. One of the major improvements of this class over the World War II class was the mounting of four diesel engines rather than the two mounted in the previous design. This allowed a speed of about 15 knots, or about 50% higher than the World War II version.

Terrebonne Parish (LST-1156) was laid down as LST-1156 on 2 January 1952 at Bath, Maine, by the Bath Iron Works; launched on 9 August 1952. Following trials and shakedown, LST-1156 underwent post-shakedown alterations at the Norfolk Navy Yard before commencing operations out of Little Creek with Amphibious Forces, Atlantic Fleet, on 14 September 1953. After nearly two decades of service in the US Navy, in 1971 the ship began preparations for her upcoming transfer to the Spanish government. On 29 October 1971, the ship was decommissioned and turned over to the Spanish Navy at Little Creek, Va. Subsequently renamed Velasco and designated L-11, the ship served Spain into 1994.

Tom Green County (LST-1159) was laid down as LST-1159 on 2 September 1952 at Bath, Maine, by the Bath Iron Works; launched on 2 July 1953; and commissioned on 12 September 1953. The tank landing ship departed Japanese waters on 27 October and made port at Pearl Harbor on 12 November for a seven-day stay before beginning the last leg of her voyage to the west coast. Upon her arrival at San Diego on 28 November, she soon commenced preinactivation preparations; and, on 23 December, she cruised in San Diego harbor, commencing the training of the new Spanish crew slated to take over the ship. On 5 January 1972, Tom Green County was decommissioned and transferred to Spain. Renamed Conde de Venadito and designated L-13, she serves the Spanish Navy into 1990.

LST-1168 was laid down on 27 February 1952 by the Christy Corp., Sturgeon Bay, Wis.; launched on 28 November 1953; and commissioned on 15 June 1954. The tank landing ship received the name Wexford County on 1 July 1955. Wexford County earned five battle stars for her service in Vietnam. She arrived at San Diego on 22 December 1970. Wexford County spent the year 1971 in preparation for transfer to Spain. The ship was decommissioned on 29 October 1971 and transferred to the Spanish Navy that same date where she served as Martin Alvarez (L 12) into 1995.

ex LST 1156
ex USS Terrebonne Parish
Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, USA 02-01-1952 09-08-1952 29-10-1971 05-09-1994
ex LST 1168
Martn lvarez
ex USS Wexford County
Christy Corp., Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, USA 27-05-1952 28-11-1953 29-10-1971 27-04-1995
ex LST 1159
Conde de Venadito
ex USS Tom Green County
Christy Corporation, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, USA 02-09-1952 02-07-1953 05-01-1972 16-11-1990

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Page last modified: 25-01-2013 18:56:35 ZULU