USS MIDDLESEX COUNTY (LST-983)
laid down by Boston Naval Shipyard, 22 December 1943; launched 10 February
1944: sponsored by Mrs. Neal B. Farwell; and commissioned 25 March 1944, Lt.
Woodrow W. Weir USNR in command.
A week later she proceeded to Portsmouth, Va.,
where LCT‑659 was loaded on her main deck in preparation for
sailing to Europe. She departed New York 18 April 1944 as flagship of LST Group
52, in convoy with 112 ships. The tank landing ship arrived in Londonderry,
Northern Ireland, to discharge fuel oil that had been carried across the
Atlantic as ballast and then proceeded to Milford Haven, Wales, and Plymouth,
England, where she launched LCT‑659.
A week later LST‑983 sailed to
London. After 2 days in London she moved down to Tilsbury Docks for final
preparations for the assault on Fortress Europa. Here she embarked British
troops and their cargo and moved further downriver to an assigned anchorage. By
evening 3 June, the mouth of the river was full of ships of all types. At 0900
on 5 June she got underway as flagship of the Vice Commodore, TU GL3, which
included 27 American LSTs destined for the British sectors of the Normandy
beaches. In the early morning hours of 6 June 1944, the convoy was off the Isle
of Wight, where it rendezvoused with other ships and then proceeded across the
The task unit arrived at Juno Beach at 1600 on 6
June, and anchored off the beach. At 2345, the Luftwaffe strafed and bombed the
hundreds of ships anchored in the area, but caused relatively little damage. At
0230 the next morning, LST‑983 proceeded to the beach and
unloaded, then sailed for Southampton to embark more troops and their
During the first 30 days following D‑Day, LST‑983
made 10 round trips to Normandy, reinforcing the beachhead. Thereafter she
continued to shuttle between Normandy and different ports in England, Including
London, Portsmouth, Portland, and Southampton. During the Battle of the Bulge
early in 1945, the Nazis sent their submarines as well as their soldiers into
action, staking all in their last stand. German U‑boats desperately tried
to halt the flow of men and material to the French ports. During this critical
period LST‑983 was constantly at sea from Portland to Le Havre and
Rouen, carrying 500 or more troops on each trip to be thrown into battle. On
the night of 12 January 1945, submarines' attacked her convoy as she was
returning from Le Havre with seven other LST's, but excellent defense by
Canadian escorts drove off the U‑boats.
By V‑E Day, LST‑983 had made
46 trips to the Continent. Five more voyages were made, from Tilsbury to Ostend,
Belgium. On the last passage she left Tilsbury, entered Germany 25 May, loaded
troops, and 5 days later sailed northward through the North Sea to Oslo,
Norway, carrying British occupation troops. From Norway, she proceeded to
Plymouth for repairs before returning to the United States. She arrived in
Norfolk, Va., 17 July 1945, bringing home 103 men freed from German prisons and
PT‑199 which had been secured to her main deck for the crossing.
During Normandy and later in World War II, LST‑983
crossed the Channel 102 times, transporting over 10,000 troops and over
3,000 vehicles to beachheads and ports of Europe, and returning more than 2,000
prisoners to England.
During the decade following World War II, LST‑983
has played a prominent role in the training of Naval, Marine, and Army
personnel in the skills needed to maintain a high state of operational
readiness. Based at Norfolk, she participated in amphibious training with
Marine Corps at Quantico, Va., and at Camp LeJeune, N.C. She also took part in
amphibious warfare demonstration and exercises during annual summer midshipmen
training cruises. Each spring she also joined in maneuvers of the Atlantic
Fleet in the Caribbean, making amphibious assaults on Vieques, P.R. In
addition, the landing ship replenished several isolated bases in the Arctic.
Her duties took her to many ports in the Caribbean and on the eastern seaboard
of the United States.
On 1 July 1955, LST‑983 was named Middlesex
County. Her status was reduced to in commission in reserve 1 October, and
she decommissioned at Green Cove Springs, Fla., 10 January 1956 and entered the
Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
Middlesex County recommissioned
27 September 1961 and soon established a pattern of alternating operations
between the Virginia Capes area and the Panama Canal Zone training marines and
soldiers in the techniques of modern amphibious warfare. In the spring of 1962
she participated in operations DEMOLEX, and amphibious demonstrations for
President Kennedy at Onslow Beach, N.C. That fall she was awarded the battle
efficiency E for being the top ship
of 16 activated for the Amphibious Force during 1961.
News of the Cuban missile crisis found Middlesex
County heading home for Virginia. Ordered to Port Everglades, Fla., she
immediately began training with troops of the Army's 1st Armored Division. The
efficiency of the naval quarantine of Cuba and the mobilization of American
Armed might quickly persuaded the Soviet Union to withdraw its offensive
missiles, enabling Middlesex County to return home 16 December.
On 17 May 1965, the LST steamed to the
assistance of Panamanian National Guard Launch No. 2. The next morning
they found the craft adrift, dispersed food and water to 50 prisoners and 5
guards, and took the launch in tow to return her to Isla Cobia that night. A
year later she again served as a good samaritan of the sea. Her two LCVPs were
used to refloat La Bonita after the tramp steamer had run aground near
Tumaco, Columbia 11 May 1966. Late in June she carried heavy equipment for the
Inter Oceanic Canal Study Group.
After overhaul in the spring of 1967 begun at
Maryland Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Baltimore, and completed at
Jacksonville Shipyards, Jacksonville, Fla., the LST returned to Little Creek 19
June for training. She got underway 25 August for another deployment with the
Canal Zone Amphibious Group. During this deployment she transited the canal on
four occasions for operations along the Pacific coast of Central and South
America. After returning to Little Creek 17 December, the tank landing ship
resumed training operations. Throughout 1968, Middlesex Cty. conducted
local operations in the Atlantic and Caribbean, continuing these operations
Middlesex County (LST‑983) received one battle star
for World War II service.
[Note: The above USS MIDDLESEX COUNTY (LST-983) history may, or may not, contain text provided by crew members of the USS MIDDLESEX COUNTY (LST-983), or by other non-crew members, and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]