USS ARLINGTON (AGMR-2)
first Saipan(CVL-48) was laid down on 10 July 1944 by the New York
Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.; launched on 8 July 1945; sponsored by Mrs. John W. McCormack; and commissioned
on 14 July 1946, Capt. John G. Crommelin in command.
eleven months after the close of World War II, Saipan trained student pilots out of
September 1946 to April 1947 when, reassigned to Norfolk as homeport, she departed the Gulf of Mexico; participated in
exercises in the Caribbean; then proceeded to Philadelphia for overhaul. In November, she returned to
Pensacola; but, in late December, after training midshipmen, steamed back to the east coast to serve with
the Operational Development Force.
February 1948, however, her work in jet operational techniques, carrier support tactics, and
electronic instrument evaluation was interrupted briefly.
From the 7th to the 24th,
she was engaged in transporting the United States delegation to the
Venezuelan Presidential inauguration and
back. On her return, she conducted local operations off the Virginia Capes;
and, in April, after a visit to
Portsmouth, N.H., she resumed work for
the Operational Development Force. On
the 18th, she also relieved Mindoro (CVE-120) as flagship of Carrier Division 17 (CarDiv 17).
On 19 April, she departed
Norfolk for Quonset Point, R.I.,
where, on 3 May, she embarked Fighter Squadron
17A. Three days later, all squadron pilots had qualified in FH-1 Phantom
jets. The squadron had become the first
carrier-based jet squadron.
Back at Norfolk by the
end of the month, Saipan was
relieved of flagship duties. In June, she returned to New England waters; and, in July, she
commenced overhaul at Norfolk. In December,
she resumed local operations. On the
24th, she was ordered to embark two
of the Navy's latest type helicopter, the XHJS-1, and three Marine Corps HRP-1
helicopters and proceeded north to
Greenland to assist in the rescue of eleven
airmen downed on the icecap. Departing Norfolk on Christmas day, the CVL
arrived off Cape Farewell on the 28th and
prepared to launch the helicopters as
soon as weather allowed. On the 29th, however, a C-47, equipped with jet assist takeoff and skis, landed on the ice; took on the marooned airmen; and
made it out again.
Saipan then returned to Norfolk; arrived on the 31st, and sailed again on 28 January 1949. Steaming
south, she conducted exercises out
of Guantanamo Bay into March and
returned to Hampton Roads on the 10th.
From the llth to the 19th, she conducted operations for the development
force; then made a reserve training cruise to
Canada. At the end of May, she again
commenced work for the Operational Development Force. Three months later, she conducted her second reservist cruise of the year, then
qualified Royal Canadian Navy pilots
in carrier landings.
From November 1949 to
March 1951, Saipan remained on
the east coast, operating from the Virginia Capes south. On 6 March
1951, she got underway as flagship, CarDiv
14, and sailed for duty with the 6th Fleet.
Deployed for three months, she plied the waters of the western Mediterranean until the end of May, then headed for home. On 8 June, she was back at Norfolk,
whence she resumed operations in the western Atlantic
from Greenland to the Caribbean.
For over two years, Saipan continued 2d Fleet operations, interrupting them for midshipman cruises
during the summers of 1952 and 1953 and for an overhaul. In October 1953, she departed the east coast and steamed
for the Panama Canal and the Pacific. On 30 October,
she arrived at San Diego, whence she continued on to Pearl Harbor, Yokosuka, and duty off the coast of Korea in support of the uneasy truce
Assigned to TF 95, she
was primarily engaged in surveillance
and reconnaissance missions along the coast
and in inspection patrols of the islands just south of the 38th Parallel. In January 1954, she
interrupted her patrols to provide air
support for Japanese-manned LSTs
ferrying former Chinese POWs from Inchon
to new homes on Formosa. In early February, she participated in amphibious
exercises in the Ryu-kyus, then returned to Inchon to stand by in the event she was needed for an evacuation of Indian troops from Panmunjom. In March, amphibious exercises
took her to the Bonins. She then
returned to Japan; but, instead of
resuming truce patrols, she took on 25 AU-type aircraft and five H19A helicopters at Yokosuka and steamed south. On 18 April, VMA-324 pilots
flew the AU's off her flight deck
and landed them at Tourane (now Danang) Air Base, French Indo-China.
There the aircraft were turned over to
French forces. Later in the day, Saipan entered the harbor, offloaded
spare parts and maintenance personnel,
and departed for Manila.
On the 20th, she
delivered the helicopters to Air Force
personnel in the Philippines; and, at the end of the month, she resumed operations off the coast of Korea. On 8 May, she
put into Sasebo; and, through the 24th, remained in Japanese waters. On the
25th, she got underway to return to Norfolk
via the Suez Canal. On 20 July, she
completed her round the world cruise.
In October, Saipan again
sailed south to the Caribbean.
Arriving as hurricane Hazel hit the Greater Antilles, razing areas of Hispaniola, the carrier was immediately
assigned to relief work. From the 13th to the 20th, she delivered food and medical supplies and personnel
to isolated areas of Haiti; then, after being honored
by the Haitian government, she returned to Norfolk. On 1 November, she entered the shipyard there for overhaul; and, in April, resumed
operations with a cruise to the
Caribbean. In June, she was again attached
to the aviation training center at Pensacola; and, through the summer, conducted qualification exercises. At the end of September, she was ordered to
Mexico to again assist in hurricane relief work. From 1 to 9 October, her
helicopters evacuated survivors, flew
in rescue personnel, and distributed food, water, and medical supplies, primarily in the flooded
Tampico area. On 12 October, she
returned to Pensacola, where she
remained until April 1957. On the first of that month, she sailed for Bayonne, N.J., where she began inactivation and was decommissioned on 3 October 1957.
Reclassified AVT-6 on 15
May 1959, Saipan remained in
the Atlantic Reserve Fleet until March 1963. She then entered the Alabama Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Co. yard at Mobile to begin conversion
to a command ship. Briefly designated
CC-3, she was reclassified a Communications Major Relay ship (AGMR-2) on 1 September 1964 while still undergoing
conversion. On 8 April 1965, she was
renamed Arlington, in honor of Arlington County, Va., the site of
one of the Navy's first wireless test stations; and, on 12 August 1966, she completed her conversion. As Arlington (AGMR-2)
she sailed for Norfolk where she was
recommissioned on 27 August 1966.
Fitting out occupied the
remainder of the year. In January
1967, she conducted shakedown exercises in the Caribbean; and, in February, she sailed for the Bay of Biscay and exercises off northern Europe. At
the end of March, she returned to Norfolk, whence, in April, she again steamed to the Caribbean. On her return to the Hampton Roads area, she prepared for
deployment to the western Pacific.
Departing Norfolk on 7
July, the communications ship
transited the Panama Canal and proceeded on to Pearl Harbor, Yokosuka, and Subic Bay, whence, with Annapolis, she rotated on station off Vietnam. During her first patrol in
Tonkin Gulf from 21 August to 18 September, she provided reliable message
handling facilities for ships of the 7th
Fleet in support of combat operations;
and, in addition, assisted ships in repairing and better utilizing their
electronic equipment. On returning to the
Philippines after her first patrol, Arlington received a new
satellite communications terminal;
and, on 2 October, she departed Subic for Taiwan.
There for only three days,
she continued on to Tonkin Gulf,
where she resumed her communications relay duties. At the end of the month, she shifted south to provide communications support to ships in the
Market Time area off South Vietnam.
After 34 days on station, she spent
five days in Hong Kong, then returned to Subic Bay, whence she steamed to
Tonkin Gulf in early December for
her third "Yankee Station" communications patrol. On 27 December,
she departed the area and headed north. On 4
January 1968, she arrived at Yokosuka;
and, on the 19th, she got underway to return to Vietnam.
Arriving back on Yankee
Station on the 24th, she departed again on the 26th, participated in
exercises in the Sea of Japan; then returned
to Yankee Station.
On station from 13
February to 10 March, she returned to Yokosuka on 14 March; remained
until 3 April; and resumed operations in
Tonkin Gulf on 10 April. A visit to
Sydney followed completion of her April
patrol; but, by mid-June, she was back on station. From 20 to 22 July, she
again visited Hong Kong, then sailed for Yokosuka.
Between the end of
August and mid-November, she completed
two more tours on Yankee Station; and, in early December, she got underway
for Pearl Harbor. There, at mid-month, she conducted communications tests; and, on the 18th, she departed Hawaii
in TF 130, the Manned Spacecraft
Recovery Force, Pacific. Acting as primary landing area communications
relay ship, she participated in the recovery of Apollo 8 and returned to Pearl Harbor on the 29th. Two days
later, she sailed for the Philippines; and, on 17 January 1969, she resumed direct communications
support for naval units in Tonkin
Gulf. On 6 February, she departed "Yankee Station;" and, after
upkeep at Yokosuka, conducted operations
off southern Japan and in the Ryukyus. Toward the end of March, she
sailed for Hong Kong, whence she returned to
Remaining on station from
6 to 14 April, she tested her Apollo
communications equipment; and, on the 15th, headed back to Pearl Harbor. On 2
May, she arrived in Hawaii and once
again joined TF 130. Again assigned as
primary landing area communications
relay ship, she departed Pearl Harbor on 11 May and steamed for the Apollo 10 recovery area, some 2,400 miles south of Hawaii. On the 26th, the
capsule was recovered and the assigned ships returned to Hawaii. From there, Arlington proceeded to
Midway, where she provided
communications support for the Nixon-Thieu
conference on 8 June; and, on the 9th, she
On 27 June, the
communications ship returned to the Vietnamese
coast. On 7 July, however, she was ordered east for her third Apollo recovery mission. Arriving in the recovery area on the 21st, she tested her equipment; and, on the 22d, moved to Johnston Island.
On the 23d, she embarked President Nixon for an overnight visit; and, on the 24th, supported the
recovery of Apollo 11. Crew and
capsule successfully recovered, Arlington
headed for Hawaii, whence she
steamed to the west coast. On 21 August, she arrived, for the first time, at her homeport, Long Beach, and four days later shifted to San Diego to begin inactivation.
She was decommissioned on 14 January 1970 and berthed with the Inactive Fleet at San Diego, where she remains into 1974.
Arlington (AGMR-2) earned 7 campaign stars for service off Vietnam.
[Note: The above USS ARLINGTON (AGMR-2) history may, or may not, contain text provided by crew members of the USS ARLINGTON (AGMR-2), or by other non-crew members, and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]