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NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive

LCS(L)(3)-121 / LSSL-121

A BRIEF HISTORY OF LCS (L) 121 by Marvin J. Bertoch, Executive Officer

Since its commissioning on 1 December 1944 at Neponset Mass., the LCS (L) (3) 121 has traveled approximately 20,000 miles, served on radar picket patrol and suicide boat defense, escorted convoys, provided fire coverage for scouts and raiders assaulting enemy beaches, and protective smoke coverage for cruisers and battleships. It has been bombed, strafed, and dived at by kamikaze planes. It has participated in convoys attacked by enemy submarines, and it has suffered a few personnel casualties as well as minor damage to the ship itself.

After its commissioning, the 121 underwent shakedown at Solomons, Md. and proceeded to San Diego via Norfolk, Key West and the Panama Canal Zone, arriving at the west coast port of San Diego on 28 January 1945.

At San Diego the ship engaged in two weeks intensive maneuvers off the coast of Southern California and embarked for Pearl Harbor on the third of March.

At Pearl Harbor maneuvers were resumed and included, for the first time, the work of providing fire coverage for a combat group known as Scouts and Raiders, men who swim ashore before the invasion and make essential preparations for the invasion itself.

Leaving Pearl Harbor on 13 April, the ship proceeded to Okinawa, stopping briefly enroute at Eniwetok and Saipan. At Saipan the 121 was made part of an escort of a convoy of men and materials. One day out of Okinawa the convoy was attacked unsuccessfully by enemy submarines.

The ship remained in the Okinawa area from 10 May to 10 July. During that period her chief assignment was radar picket duty. At Hagushi Harbor, the umbilical chord furnishing the life’s blood to the Army, Navy and Marines, in the form of provisions, supplies, ammunition, battle equipment and men, attached itself to the body of the campaign for Okinawa. That harbor and others in the vicinity had to be protected. It was the job of the ships on radar picket duty to shield this vital area by warning our air command and the harbor commands of approaching enemy planes, and by engaging the planes in combat before they could reach the island.

The 121 spent 30 days on radar picket patrol and went to general quarters to meet the enemy air attacks 56 times during that period. She suffered a near miss causing personnel casualties and minor damage to the ship. The bomb exploded off her starboard quarter spraying the after deck with shrapnel. Strafing by a diving kamikaze plane also inflicted minor damage. She shot down two planes, one of them headed for her, the other headed for a nearby destroyer.

While in the Okinawa area the 121 stood by to provide fire coverage for Scouts and Raiders when they were put ashore on Kume Shima, a few days prior to the invasion of that island. She assisted in escorting a group of LSTs into Hagushi harbor. While located in Hagushi harbor, between picket patrol assignments, she took on food, fuel and supplies by day and engaged in “Flycatcher” and “Skunk” patrol by night. This was a patrol in an assigned area near the harbor combining air defense duty and searching for enemy suicide boats which attempted to sneak into the anchorage and plunge their TNT-laden bows into the hulls of our big ships.

When not busy with one of the above assignments she used her fog generator to provide smoke coverage, during air attacks, for a cruiser or battleship.

During this period of intensive activity, training drills in firefighting and fire and salvage and other routine shipboard drills were carried out when circumstances permitted.

On 10 July, after the successful conclusion of the Okinawa campaign, the ship proceeded to Leyte in the Philippine Islands to undergo essential repairs and to provide the crew with its first chance for recreation ashore since leaving Pearl Harbor.

On 11 September the 121 arrived in Tokyo Bay to participate in the Occupation of Japan.

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