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A BRIEF HISTORY OF LCS(L) 78
Merl L. Riggs, Crew Member
The LCS (L) (3) 78 was commissioned March 26, 1945 in Portland, Oregon. The 78 and crew left Portland April 5, 1945, arriving at San Diego, California on the 10th.† We went on a number of training cruises and then left for Pearl Harbor on the 16th of May.† We arrived at Pearl Harbor on the 25 of May. We spent a few weeks there for repairs and outfitting before going into the combat zone.† On June 15th, we left Pearl Harbor and on the 26th we arrived at Eniwetok.† We spent one day refueling and on the 27th we shoved off again.† On the 1st of July the 78 arrived at Saipan.† We spent a week there taking on provisions and fuel.† Then on the 8th of July we shoved off once more, this time in the company of about 60 ships.
On the 14th of July we arrived at Okinawa and spent 4-5 months there. We went through a lot of air raids at Okinawa and we were used to lay smoke screens around the large merchant ships lying in the harbor. We went on radar picket duty with the LCS 76 and 3 destroyers.† We were 80-100 miles off of Okinawa and had one very exciting night when 3 Jap planes attacked us. It was a beautiful night with almost a full moon.† We destroyed all 3 planes.
While at Nago Wan we saw a Jap plane explode about a half mile from us. The Japs really raised hell one night as we had 6 or 7 general quarters.† The main targets were Ie Shima where a large airfield was located and Buckner Bay where the fleet was anchored.† We also went through several typhoons. †One in particular did a lot of damage.† We had a very trying time that night.† It was at Okinawa that our skipper, Lt. Fortson, left the ship.† (This was about Sept. 15, 1945.)
We finally left Okinawa on the 17th of November and arrived at Jinsen, Korea on the 21st. We were supposed to go on mine demolition patrol but due to a bad starboard screw we were unable to comply.† Jinsen was a hell hole and I wouldn't wish it on a dog to be stationed there.† There was a treacherous tide that made anchoring very difficult.† We were more than glad to get out of† there on the 5th of December, and after a very rough trip, we arrived at Tsingtao, China on the 7th.† We spent 4 days there and then departed for Kunsan, Korea on the 11th of December, arriving there on the 12th.† We were a pilot vessel escorting into the harbor LSTs that were bringing back Korean repatriots. We left Kunsan on the 17th of December 1945 and arrived at Tsingtao on the 18th.† We spent the holidays at Tsingtao, which is a pretty nice place.
††††††††† †On January 5th, 1946, we again shoved off for Kunsan, Korea.† We were supposed to arrive there on the 6th, but got lost and had to anchor for the night. On the 7th we finally found the entrance to the harbor and tied up to the LCS 75 at Kunsan.† We had an enjoyable 2 weeks there, as we had a good basketball team and we played all the teams in the area.† We were beaten once by I Company, US Army, by 2 points, but in the return game, we beat them by 4.† On the 26th of January† we shoved off for Tsingtao again, arriving there on the 27th.† I received 65 letters there and had a big time reading them all.† On February 11 the 78 shoved off for Shanghai, China, in the company of the LCS I04.† We had a rather rough trip.† We got to Shanghai on the 13th of February and tied up to† LCS 96 at the Poo Tung water works dock.† I had some good liberty at Shanghai.
On February 16th we left Shanghai for ready gunboat duty on the Yangtze River.† We anchored most of the time at the entrance, but made a daily patrol trip to destroy any mines we might encounter.† On the 21st we returned to Shanghai again.† On March 3rd the 78 went out to the entrance of the Whang Poo River to bring Rear Admiral Suttle into Shanghai for a conference.† There were 50-some persons in the group, including a Captain in the British Navy, and a bunch of foreign diplomats.† We received a message from the Admiral later contgratulating us on a clean, smart ship.† We arrived back in Shanghai on March 4th and were ordered back out to destroy a mine sighted by a Jap merchant ship.† We anchored at the entrance of the Yangtze River since we were unable to get the position of the mine before dark.† We hunted for the mine all the next day but were unable to find it because of fog and high seas.† We returned to Shanghai on the 6th.†
††††††††† On the 12th of March we again left Shanghai for ready gunboat duty on the Yangtze.† At 1700 hours a mine was sighted about 2 miles from us.† Along with LCS 102 we investigated and found it to be a floating horned mine.† We fired 1400 rounds of ammunition and hit it many times before it finally sank.† On the 17th we returned to Woosung and anchored preparatory to entering Shanghai, but a heavy fog set in and we didnít get into Shanghai until Monday the 18th of March.
††††††††† On Wednesday the 27th of March we left Shanghai and went out to the heavy cruiser BREMERTON (CA-130).† We picked up the Commanding Officer and brought him back to Shanghai.† On Friday the 29th we again left Shanghai for duty as Yangtze entrance gunboat.† On April 2nd we returned to Shanghai and tied up alongside LCS 71.† We heard some scuttlebutt about returning to the States via Okinawa and Pearl Harbor.† The scuttlebutt turned out to be true, for on the 8th of April we left Shanghai for Okinawa, the first leg of the journey home.†† We were accompanied by the LCSs 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 77, 96, 102, 104 and 108. It got a lot warmer on the way, and it sure was nice to see some blue water after seeing the yellow, muddy sea for so long.
††††††††† We arrived at Okinawa on the 10th of April and anchored in Buckner Bay.††† We left Okinawa on April 14 for Guam.† There were 19 ships altogether: 2 LSTs, 3 LCIs and 14 LCSs.† We had a smooth trip the first two days, but the last four were rough as the devil.† We hit some kind of a storm and it was really rough.† The LST 42 conked out the last night before we got to Guam, so the LCS 77 with Lt. Shannon took over command of our Task Unit 78.12.99.† We arrived at Guam on the morning of the 20th and anchored in the inner harbor.† The harbor at Guam isnít very big and we had quite a time getting into it.† We had to wait three hours on the outside of the entrance for a carrier to come out.† It was pretty windy and we drifted all over the harbor before we got tied up.† It was hot as the devil there.† I went on the beach on the 22nd with a working party.† The island was pretty well built up.† We didnít do hardly any work, as the Jap prisoners loaded all the supplies.†
††††††††† We left Guam on the 23rd of April and had a very, very rough trip to Eniwetok.† It was the most rough weather we had hit for a long time.† The ship really took a beating, and we made very slow speed until the last 2 days.† We started out with 8 Yard Patrol Boats and one of them broke down and returned to Guam.† One of them sank, and 3 of them went back to Guam the 3rd day out.† We finally, after 7 days, arrived at Eniwetok.† It sure was a tiny island.† We got some shipís service stuff.† We went swimming in the afternoon when we went after provisions.† The water was beautiful although we had a very rough trip to the beach in a small boat.† We were all soaking wet.
††††††††† The rest of our Task Unit left Eniwetok on the 2nd of May, but both of our generators were on the blink, so we didnít leave until the 3rd at 1630.† The rest of the convoy was making 7.5 knots, but we didnít have to go that slow and we proceeded for Pearl Harbor on our own.† We averaged 9.7 knots,† then we passed the others on the 6th of May to the southward about 20 miles.† By the 9th we were a good 140 miles ahead of them and with no breakdowns or storms, we reached Pearl Harbor at 0730 on the 13th.† We stayed in Pearl Harbor for 3 days and then left for Astoria, Oregon with a group of LSTs and LCIs.† We left the group and proceeded on our own for the last 1200 miles, arriving in Astoria on May 27th.† On May 30th we left Astoria for Portland, Oregon, where the 78 was decommissioned.†
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