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NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive


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Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from left to right
American Campaign Medal - Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal (1) - World War II Victory Medal

LST-1 Class Tank Landing Ship:
  • Laid down, 27 October 1943, at American Bridge Co., Ambridge, PA.
  • Launched, 30 December 1943
  • Commissioned USS LST-138, 5 February 1944. LT. John B. Wilson, USNR, in command
  • During World War II, USS LST-138 was assigned to the Europe-Africa- Middle East Theater and participated in the campaign:

    Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign
    Campaign and Dates
    Invasion of Normandy, 6 to 25 June 1944

  • Decommissioned, 20 November 1945
  • Struck from the Naval Register, 5 December 1945
  • USS LST-138 earned one battle star for World War II service
  • Sold for conversion to merchant service, 16 June 1947, to Three Star Line, Inc., Lake Charles, LA.
  • Purchased by the Irgun Etzel (Jewish freedom fighters), named Altalena, used to transport passengers and arms during a truce
  • Final Disposition, shelled and burned on the beach at Tel Aviv, Israel during the Israeli War for Independence, 20 June 1948, blown up by the Haganah
    1,625 t.(lt)
    4,080 t.(fl) (sea-going draft w/1675 ton load)
    2,366 t. (beaching displacement)
    Length 328' o.a.
    Beam 50'
    light 2' 4" fwd, 7' 6" aft
    sea-going 8' 3" fwd, 14' 1" aft
    landing 3' 11" fwd, 9' 10" aft (landing w/500 ton load)
    limiting 11' 2"
    maximum navigation 14' 1"
    Speed 11.6 kts. (trial)
    Endurance 24,000 miles @ 9kts. while displacing 3960 tons
    7 officers
    104 enlisted
    Troop Accommodations
    16 officers
    147 enlisted
    Boats 4 LCVP
    Cargo Capacity (varied with mission - payloads between 1600 and 1900 tons)
    Typical loads
    One Landing Craft Tank (LCT), tanks, wheeled and tracked vehicles, artillery, construction equipment and military supplies. A ramp or elevator forward allowed vehicles access to tank deck from main deck
    Additional capacity included sectional pontoons carried on each side of vessel amidships, to either build Rhino Barges or use as causeways. Married to the bow ramp, the causeways would enabled payloads to be delivered ashore from deeper water or where a beachhead would not allow the vessel to be grounded forward after ballasting
    Armament (varied with availability when each vessel was outfitted. Retro-fitting was accomplished throughout WWII. The ultimate armament design for United States vessels was
    2 - Twin 40MM gun mounts w/Mk. 51 directors
    4 - Single 40MM gun mounts
    12 single 20MM gun mounts
    Fuel Capacity
    Diesel 4,300 Bbls
    two General Motors 12-567A, 900hp Diesel engines
    single Falk Main Reduction Gears
    three Diesel-drive 100Kw 230V D.C. Ship's Service Generators
    two propellers, 1,700shp
    twin rudders

    Click On Image
    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Source
    USS LST-138
    LST-138 266k USS LST-138 at anchor, date and location unknown. Mark Sobczak
    218k USS LST-138 beached in France while unloading USAAF 23rd Photo Squadron trailer, 4 September 1944.
    US National Archives - US Army Air Corps photo 56610 A.C.
    Jason Post
    Merchant Service
    LST-138 141k Ex-USS LST-138 as MV Altalena off the port of Marseille, France, June 1938. She was ship loaded with 930 refugee passengers and arms destined for the Irgun.
    Paul H. Silverstone Aliyah Bet Project web site.
    Robert Hurst
    LST-138 76k MV Altalena underway bound for Israel with volunteers and freedom fighters on board, June 1948. David Taggar
    LST-138 105k Jewish immigrant ship MV Altalena on fire after being shelled near Tel-Aviv, 22 June 1948, by Israeli forces on the orders of the Israeli leader David Ben-Gurion.
    Photo courtesy of Israel Government Press Office. Photo from the book "Great Moments In Jewish History" (page 205) by Elinor and Robert Slater. Pub: Jonathan David Publishers, 1998) ISBN 0824604083,
    Robert Hurst
    LST-138 14k MV Altalena burning on the beach at Tel Aviv, Israel, 22 June 1948. David Taggar
    LST-138 45k The burned out hulk of MV Altalena abandoned on the beach at Tel Aviv, Israel, June 1948. David Taggar
    LST-138 44k
    LST-138 22k
    LST-138 21k

    USS LST-138
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Commanding Officers
    01LT. Wilson, John B., USNR5 February 1944 - ?
    Courtesy Wolfgang Hechler and Ron Reeves

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information
    U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation - Navy Log

    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    The USS LST Ship Memorial
    LST Home Port
    State LST Chapters
    United States LST Association
    The Altalena Affair

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    This page is created by David W. Almond and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
    All pages copyright NavSource Naval History
    Last Updated 29 January 2021