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USS LSSL-18
ex
USS LC(L)(3)-18 (1944 - 1949)


A BRIEF HISTORY OF LCS(L) 18

A BRIEF HISTORY OF LCS(L) 18

by

Lt.(jg) John F. Lehman, Commanding Officer

 

The U.S. Navy commissioned the LCS (L) 18 at the George Lawley Shipyard, Neponset, Massachusetts on October 2, 1944.LT. (jg) John F. Lehman assumed command.The ship received supplies, provisions and ammunition at the shipyard.It then proceeded to the departing station, to speed trials outside Boston Harbor, then to the Navy fueling pier in East Boston for fuel.It then proceeded to Commonwealth Pier 1, where the ship completed logistics, compensated the compass, and with a pilot aboard, proceeded to the Cape Cod Canal enroute to Solomons, Maryland.Our pilot was then relieved by a Cape Cod Canal pilot.LCS 18 proceeded through the canal, but due to heavy fog put in to New Bedford, Massachusetts and waited for the fog to lift.

 

After arriving at Solomons on October 11, the ship took shakedown in the Chesapeake Bay area, then proceeded to Lambertís Point, Virginia, where availability and logistics were completed.

 

From 31 October to 4 November the 18 was enroute to Key West, Florida, in company with LCS 17 and LCI 714, with our Captain as Officer in Technical Command.Some logistics were completed in Key West, and at Coco Solo, Canal Zone.The 18 passed through the Panama Canal on 12 November in company with LCSs 13 and 17, and arrived San Diego 23 November.

 

On training maneuvers outside San Diego Harbor the port skeg was discovered to be broken, so we proceeded back to the harbor on one screw for repairs.Instructors came aboard, and we received training for tracking targets, fire fighting and fire and rescue drills.The first week in December we were in the San Clemente and San Nicholas areas practicing beach strafing and bombardment, and antiaircraft firing.From 23 to 27 December the 18 was back in the drydock for completion of hull painting and repair of the skegs.

 

On 4 January 1945 LCS 18 departed San Diego for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in company with LCS Group Eight, with the Group Commander on board LCS 12.Arrived Pearl Harbor on 13 January and moored in the West Loch for a period of availability.

 

Logistics completed on 1 February, LCS 18 departed Pearl for Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, in company with an LST convoy, serving as antiaircraft screen.On 17 February we arrived at Purvis Bay in the Florida Islands, accomplished logistics and made preparations for rehearsals in Purvis Bay and the Hutchinson Creek area, Solomon Islands.

 

From 1 to 3 March we rehearsed with an LST-LSM tractor unit off Guadalcanal, acting as inner AA screen for the unit, firing rocket salvos and strafing the beach during the simulated landings in the mornings.We patrolled the transport area until the night retirement plan was effective, then proceeded to steam around Savo Island in preparation for the following days rehearsals of the landings.††

 

From 7 to 9 March, at Tulagi, the 18 completed logistics and repairs.In the dry dock,inspection was made of the hull, and the skegs were repaired.On 13 March we departed for Ulithi, arriving there on 21 March.On the 25th we sortied with a tractor unit of the Northern Attack Force, and acted as inner AA screen for the unit, proceeding to Okinawa.On 31 March we sighted Okinawa, and followed an approach plan for landing.

 

On April 1 the LCS 18 formed a line-abreast formation with other support craft and began strafing the landing beach area.We fired two rocket salvos and continued strafing until the first wave of amphibious tanks were abreast of us, then we proceeded with LCS Division Sixteen to the USS PORTLAND as AA screen.At dusk we joined the tractor unit for night retirement plan as screen.The 18 performed AA screen duty during the day, and smoke screen duty at night in the transport area.

 

From 4 to 27 April, the 18 served as H.E.C. (Harbor Entrance Controller) at the south gate of the Kerama Retto anchorage.On the 18th, at 1930, we sighted an enemy fighter approaching, took it under fire and splashed it about 50 yards off our port bow.It was believed to be a Tojo.On 27 April we were relieved of H.E.C. duty, and joined the LCS(L) Division Sixteen and proceeded to Okinawa.Logistics completed on the 29th, LCS 18 reported to Radar Picket Station No. 3 (RP 3) for duty.On 30 April, we took a low flying enemy plane under fire on our port quarter, and set fire to his port engine.The plane passed very close over the ship.We opened fire to starboard and splashed the plane about 100 yards off our starboard bow.The enemy plane was a Betty bomber.

 

On 5 May, while patrolling on RP 3, the No. 3 40MM gun director was found to be inoperative.We got permission to return to the Hagushi transport area, where the director was repaired.We accomplished logistics during the day, and participated in skunk patrol and making smoke at night.On 13 May we proceeded to RP 13, acting as OTC of small craft.On 27 May, with enemy planes in immediate area, we took a twin engine enemy plane under fire on our starboard, then on our port side.The plane passed approximately 200 feet over the 18, and was believed to have crashed about 4000 yards off our port beam, with no confirmation of who splashed it.On 30 May we were relieved on RP 3 and returned to the Hagushi anchorage, where we resumed skunk (anti-suicide boat) patrol and smoke duty at night.

 

††† On 7 June, in obedience to orders, we proceeded to RP 15, acting as OTC of the small craft.Destroyers splashed an enemy plane close aboard and lost five men overboard.Our small craft recovered all five men and returned them the following day.That night LCS 18 moved to RP 1, and began patrolling between RP 1 and RP 15.On 10 June a single enemy plane made a surprise attack on the USS WILLIAM D. PORTER.Small craft went alongside the destroyer to assist, and we moored to her port quarter.She had experienced a heavy underwater explosion.We began pumping operations to keep her afloat, but experienced difficulty pumping due to the heavy oil caused by ruptured tanks.We took the PORTER in tow.She was listing hard to starboard when her Captain ordered all hands to abandon ship.27 men and five officers boarded our ship, and we cut our lines and got underway.The PORTER had been kept afloat for approximately three hours after she had been hit.We transferred survivors to the USS SMALL, and were instructed to return to the Hagushi area.

 

From 12 to 19 June LCS 18 patrolled on RP 1 and RP 15.On 20 June LCS 36 sighted a mine and destroyed it.On 25 June we departed Okinawa enroute to Leyte, Philippine Islands, in company with LCS(L) Group Eight, with the Group Commander in LC(FF) 485.We arrived at Leyte on 30 June and anchored in San Pedro Bay.

 

In San Pedro, the 18 completed logistics, and was drydocked for repairs to the skegs and repainting the hull on the 2nd and 3rd of August.Here the war ended, and on August 11 the 18 proceeded to Abuygo, P.I., then sortied with LCS(L) Group Eight enroute to Tokyo Bay.Commander LCS(L) Flotilla Three, aboard the LC(FF) 988, was our OTC.During the trip to Tokyo Bay, we were diverted to Okinawa due to a typhoon warning.We arrived in Buckner Bay on 17 August to use the island for protection while riding out the typhoon.

 

On 19 August we were underway again for Tokyo Bay, and rendezvoused with LCS(L) Group Nine in Sagami Bay, then proceeded to Mutsu Bay, Aomori, Honshu, Japan.On 24 August, the 18 arrived in Mutsu Bay and anchored near Ominata Naval Base.At Aomori we participated in an occupational landing, as support ships.After landing, we proceeded to the transport area for duty as a firefighting and salvage vessel.

 

From 26 September to 5 October, the 18 completed logistics and participated in patrol of the transport area at Aomori, Honshu.On 6 October we departed Mutsu Bay enroute to Tokyo Bay, in company with LCS(L) Group Eight, with Commander LCS(L) Group Eight as OTC.On the 9th we arrived at Yokosuka Naval Base in Tokyo Bay, Japan.On the 24th we rendezvoused with LCS(L) Group Eight and proceeded to Sasebo, Kyushu, Japan.From 29 October to 1 November we completed logistics and repairs in the Sasebo area.

 

Following completion of our repairs at Sasebo we served with other LCSs as mine demolition units destroying and sinking the large number of mines released by our minesweepers in the East China Sea and the Formosa area.After this duty we went to Shanghai as part of a U.S. occupying force in China.

 

This was our last duty before returning to the States.

†††


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