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Designed to provide maximum inshore fire support for invasion forces as well as concentrated anti-aircraft fire when at sea was the USS LCS(L) 38, one of the hundreds of small vessels to aid in the conquest of the island of Okinawa in World War II.
Her keel plates were laid on 11 September 1944 and on the 1st of October she moved down the greased ways into the Willamette River.† She was constructed by the Commercial Iron Works, Portland, Oregon, who built 50 of her sister ships.
ENS Jack C. Smith, USNR, read his orders placing him in command of the vessel on 13 October 1944 and nine days later she was underway for San Diego, where she arrived on the 27th of October.
Shakedown training continued for LCS 38 until 15 November when she was given a tender availability.† Along with 33 other LCSs she departed from the United States on the first day of December, and arrived at Pearl Harbor ten days later.† From then until 25 January 1945, the LCS 38 participated in invasion maneuvers in the Hawaiian Islands.
Leaving Pearl Harbor on 3 February she convoyed 36 LCTs which were moving to the forward invasion area. The convoy stopped at Johnston Island, Majuro Atoll and Eniwetok before arriving at Ulithi in the Caroline Islands on 6 March 1945.† The 38 departed the following day for San Pedro Bay, Leyte, Philippine Islands, where she arrived on the 11th of March and immediately began participating in the rehearsals for the invasion of Okinawa.
The mass of invasion ships departed from Leyte on 25 March 1945 and on the first day in April the assault on the island of Okinawa began.† The 38 arrived off Brown Beach shortly after the first waves of assault craft had hit the shore.† For two hours the LCS 38 moved slowly up and down the shoreline, usually not more than 900 yards from the front lines, firing shells at Japanese pockets of resistance that opposed the 10th U.S. Army Corps.† While maneuvering, the vessel hit a hidden coral reef and damaged her screws.
That night the LCS 38 went into a floating dry dock, had her screws repaired and the following day was back in the thick of action.† The Kamikaze suicide planes now were beginning to appear, and the 38ís six 40MM and two 20MM guns were constantly in action.† However, one Japanese plane made it through the umbrella of anti-aircraft fire and hit the USS LST 447 which soon sank.† The LCS 38 picked up 29 survivors as the shipís guns coordinated with those of ships nearby, destroying an enemy plane.
LCS 38 was part of the LCS(L) Group Seven of LCS(L) Flotilla Three.† After the Okinawa beachhead had been consolidated, the LCS Flotillas were assigned as Radar Picket Ship Support Craft Units, and each LCS was sent out on picket duty for ten days and then brought back to Hagushi Anchorage, Okinawa, for four days of rearming, refueling and reprovisioning.
The 38 was assigned her first picket duty at station three.† For 17 days the small ship was at sea aiding the larger radar picket ships defending themselves against Japanese plane attacks.† The LCS 38 shot down one Japanese Zero while assisting in the destruction of three others.† Twice she was straddled by light bombs, but suffered no damage.
From 27 April to 2 June the 38 operated in Nakagusuku Wan, later renamed Buckner Bay, providing smoke to hide the fleet from dive bombers, and aiding in anti-aircraft defenses.† During that period she assisted in downing one Jap kamikaze.
Departing from Okinawa with seven other LCSs on 2 June, the 38 arrived at Saipan Island, Marianas, two days later and commenced a tender availability which lasted until 14 September 1945.†
The LCS 38, along with 11 other sister ships departed from Saipan on September 14th and arrived in Tokyo Bay two days later for occupation duty.† She left the following morning and proceeded to Aomari, Honshu Island, Japan, where she assisted in the landing of the 81st U.S. Army Infantry Division.† She remained in the bay area on patrol until October 7th.
Moving south from Aomori Bay on 7 October 1945, the 39 stopped at Yokosuka before arriving at Sasebo, Kyushu Island, to commence duty with minesweepers in the destruction of the Japanese minefields.
The shipís second commanding officer since her commissioning took over on 10 November 1945 when LT(jg.) Corwyn L. Johnson relieved LT Smith.† From 27 November until December 5th the LCS 39 followed in the wake of minesweepers to destroy the cut mines.† Some 70 mines were exploded during this period.
Departing from Sasebo on 19 December 1945, the LCS 38 stopped at Saipan, Pearl Harbor and San Diego before passing through the Panama Canal on 25 February 1946.† Following her arrival at New Orleans, Louisiana, on 3 March 1946, the 38 underwent repairs and sailed to Green Cove Springs, Florida, where she was decommissioned on 27 June and placed in the 16th Reserve Fleet.
The vesselís classification was changed to LSSL 38, or Landing Ship Support, Large, on 28 February 1949, and in July 1951 she was transferred under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program to the Republic of Italy and renamed BRACCO.††
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