LSD-28 General Specifications
Class: Thomaston-class dock landing ship
Complement: 304 Officers and Enlisted
Displacement: 8899 tons
Length: 510 feet
Beam: 84 feet
Draft: 19 feet
Final Disposition: In reserve awaiting sale
USS THOMASTON (LSD-28)
Thomaston (LSD-28) was laid down on 3 March 1953 at Pascagoula
by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp.
launched on 9 February 1954
by Mrs. Mathias B. Gardner; and commissioned on 17 September 1954
Marion F. Ramirez de Arellano in command.
Following shakedown in the Caribbean
Thomaston transited the Panama
Canal and joined the Pacific Fleet Amphibious Force. From July through October
Thomaston participated in the Arctic Resupply Project
stations on the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line before taking part in cold
weather landing exercises in the Aleutians in November 1955 and again in
January and February 1956.
The landing ship's duties soon took her southward to the warmer climes of
the Hawaiian Islands
where she conducted local operations and exercises
in March and April. On hand in Santa Barbara
from 2 to 9 July
for the Semana Nautica Celebration
Thomaston returned to the Hawaiian
Islands and participated in three landing exercises in the autumn before
returning to the west coast to conduct exercises off the Marine Corps base
at Camp Pendleton
during the spring of 1957.
She subsequently deployed to the Western Pacific (WestPac) in 1959 and participated
in exercises off Borneo and Korea in June and August of that year. Alternating
between the west coast and WestPac
Thomaston participated in a busy
schedule of operations and cruises into the 1960's. During the international
tensions brought on by the United States' discovery of Russian missile sites
Thomaston sailed via the Panama Canal to the Caribbean and
operated with the Atlantic Fleet until tensions abated with the withdrawal
of the missiles. She then returned to San Diego on 15 December 1962.
She commenced the year 1963 at her home port
and conducted training
exercises into February before serving as primary control ship off "Green"
during Operation "Steel Gate" from 28
February to 8 March 1963. Thomaston departed the west coast on 26
bound for the Far East
and arrived via Pearl Harbor at Subic Bay
on 20 April. Serving with the Amphibious Force of the 7th Fleet; she participated
in special operations in the South China Sea from 22 April to 5 May. A second
special operation in the South China Sea -- again with the Amphibious Ready
7th Fleet -- took place in late August and early September.
After operating in Okinawan waters
Thomaston departed Yokosuka
on 4 November
bound for the west coast of the United States. While
en route three days later
the LSD received word of a merchantman in distress.
Thomaston found SS Barbara Fritchie in heavy
dead in the water
having lost a propeller and suffering rudder damage.
Thomaston took her in tow and headed for Pearl Harbor
the tow to Cree (ATF-84) on the 12th. The LSD's stop at Pearl Harbor
was a brief one
as she arrived and departed for home on the same
Making port at San Diego on 21 November
Thomaston operated locally
and trained through the early fall of 1964
when she sailed for the Philippines
on 26 October to commence another WestPac deployment. Arriving at Subic
Bay on 16 November
the LSD conducted special operations in the South China
including a dredge lift from Saigon to Danang
21 November and 16 December. Christmas of that year found Thomaston
again at sea
on "special operations" in the South China Sea.
She was present at the initial Marine landings at Danang and Chu Lai
Vietnam. She remained deployed to WestPac until June of 1965
when she returned
to San Diego to conduct routine local operations off the west coast.
Departing San Diego on 10 January 1966 for WestPac
in Vietnamese coastal waters on 5 February and immediately commenced operations
at Chu Lai and Danang
serving as boat haven at the latter port. She returned
to the United States in the spring and remained at San Diego from 9 April
to 9 July 1966. The ship then headed back to the western Pacific and operated
out of Subic Bay from 28 July through the end of the deployment. She participated
in Operations "Deckhouse III" (phases one and two) and "Deckhouse
IV" in August and September. In the former
marines north of Vung Tau and served as primary control ship and boat haven
during the subsequent operations. She then landed marines at a point just
south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Vietnam. She
thus continued in her familiar role as primary control ship and boat haven
during "Deckhouse IV" and staged boat convoys carrying supplies
nine miles up the Cua Vet River to Dong Ha.
Returning to Subic Bay
Thomaston later participated in Exercise
"Mudpuppy II" which was designed to provide training in river
operations for marines. Held on Mindoro in the Philippines
II" ended three days before Christmas; and Thomaston sailed
She thus began the year 1967 as she had begun the previous year
combat operations against Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army units along
the coastline. Participating in "Deckhouse V" and "Deckhouse
VI" into March
Thomaston's participation in the former operation
began on 5 January 1967 when she dropped anchor off the mouth of the Song
Co Chien River. She helped to launch the thrust of "Deckhouse V
aimed at the delta lowlands of Kien Hoa province
South Vietnam. The combined
American and Vietnamese Marine Corps landings successfully challenged Viet
Cong forces in this area. Relieved at Vung Tau by Point Defiance
(LSD-1) on 6 March
Thomaston sailed for repairs at Subic Bay
route home via Hong Kong
and Pearl Harbor.
Following an extensive overhaul at San Diego from 28 June to 18 December
Thomaston departed her home port on 21 February 1968 for her regular
deployment to WestPac. After joining the Amphibious Ready Group off Vietnam
in the I Corps zone
Thomaston commenced operations in support of
marines of the Special Landing Forces (SLF) engaged ashore in the defense
of Quang Tri province. She spent the month of March steaming in coastwise
logistics runs between Danang
and the burgeoning Army supply
base at Thon My Thuy
known colloquially as "Murder Beach."
During her operations at the latter port
to the Army the versatility of the Landing Ship Dock by serving as an effective
repair ship with a built-in drydock. Many small craft and pontoon piers
serving the supply base received hull and machinery work by the crew in
the ship's capacious welldeck. During this deployment
proved that the amphibious ship was a natural vehicle for interservice cooperation.
While operating off the coast of South Vietnam with the Amphibious Ready
Thomaston conducted two search and rescue operations. On the
evening of 25 May
a CH-46 helicopter
loaded with mail
lost power in the vicinity of Valley Forge (LPH-8) and crashed.
The helicopter remained afloat while those on board jettisoned all excess
weight. It gradually sank
but fortunately not before all men had safely
left the craft. Within a mile of the accident Thomaston dispatched
two boats to the scene and recovered not only four of the passengers and
crew of the CH-46 (the remainder were picked up by helicopter) but the crew
from one of Valley Forge's boats which had capsized upon launching.
on 2 June and again while in the vicinity of Valley Forge
Thomaston picked up men from the carrier who had jumped overboard
to escape flames from a flight deck fire.
Thomaston next participated in "Badger Catch III
withdrawal of the Special Landing Force from the Cua Vet River area bordering
on the extreme southern edge of the DMZ. Subsequently
and her embarked SLF participated in a swift succession of operations against
Communist ground forces. Operation "Swift Sabre" plunged into
Viet Cong-contested areas of the western shore of Danang harbor on 8 June
1968. Following Exercise "Hilltop XX" in Subic Bay
participated in "Eager Yankee" which landed elements of the SLF
in Quang Tri province near Cua Tu Hien on 9 July before engaging
in "Swift Play" in the coastal area south of Danang. These
operations resulted in the capture of significant numbers of weapons and
stores and the destruction of operating bases and installations from which
the enemy had launched attacks against other "friendly forces."
During "Swift Play
" Thomaston came under shore battery
fire for a brief time.
For the next five vears
Thomaston actively supported the war effort
conducted troop and cargo lifts
and participated in amphibious
operations. The tide of war
was running against the South Vietnamese;
by the spring of 1975
concentrated efforts on the part of North Vietnamese
and Viet Cong troops put pressure on the crumbling South Vietnamese government.
The end for South Vietnam came during Thomaston's 15th WestPac deployment.
The beginning of the year 1975 found the landing ship at Subic Bay
a needed availability. She departed Subic Bay on 2 February
bound for Singapore
where she stayed until the 13th. As a member of Task Group (TG) 76.4 Thomaston
later returned to port at Subic Bay on the 25th. Her anticipated upkeep
was cut short when the ship was directed to return to sea
with TG 76.4. On 2 March
Thomaston departed Subic Bay to execute
Operation "Eagle Pull" which evacuated Americans and designated
Cambodian citizens from the Cambodian capital city of Pnomh Penh. The civilians
were to be picked up by helicopters and ferried to the ships offshore.
She remained in readiness until the evening of 5 April
was ordered to Phu Quoc Island to assist Vietnamese nationals evacuated
from Danang. She transferred food and medical supplies via her LCU's and
LCM-8 assault craft to Vietnamese refugees quartered on Military Sealift
Command (MSC) vessels.
TG 76.4 executed "Eagle Pull" on 11 April
took part as a plane guard on station to the south. Upon the successful
completion of the operation
designated units of the group proceeded to
to debark civilians airlifted from Cambodia. Meanwhile
Thomaston sailed for the Philippines
arriving at Subic Bay on the
morning of 17 April
but her much deserved in-port period was again abbreviated
by operational necessity. Underway once more at 2330 on the 18th
sailed for Vietnamese waters to take part in the Gotterdammerung
of South Vietnam -- the evacuation of the besieged capital
On 29 April
Operation "Frequent Wind" commenced at 1500. During
the next nine hours Thomaston received 811 Vietnamese
and other refugees. During this operation -- for which the ship received
the Meritorious Unit Commendation -- Thomaston received evacuees
landing "choppers" as large as CH-46's on her
flight deck aft. All Vietnamese citizens were to be processed and placed
aboard MSC ships
American citizens would be retained on board for transportation to the Philippines.
Although limited by space
all individuals were provided with food
and medical attention. Makeshift shelters
"tents" made from marines'
were set up on board.
Returning to Subic Bay on 3 May
Thomaston immediately commenced
preparations for her homeward voyage. Civilians embarked during "Frequent
Wind" were debarked at Subic Bay. The ship then headed on for the west
coast of the United States
via Buckner Bay
Okinawa; and Pearl Harbor;
and arrived at San Diego on 6 June 1975.
Thomaston subsequently operated with the Pacific Fleet in 1976
training and local operations in waters off Okinawa
before returning to San Diego at the close of the year.
Following a material inspection by the Navy Board of Inspection and Survey
in January 1977
Thomaston commenced preparations for her forthcoming
overhaul. On 1 June
she entered Todd Shipyard
most extensive overhaul conducted on an amphibious ship to that time. Lasting
18 months and costing nearly $30 million
the overhaul was completed on
7 December 1978. Thomaston returned to her home port of San Diego
on 14 December and remained there into 1979.
Thomaston received 11 battle stars
one Navy Unit Commendation
two Meritorious Unit Commendations for Vietnam service.
Thomaston was decommissoned 5 Sept.
1984 and her name struck from the Naval Vessel Register 02 Feb. 1992. The
vessel was sold 29 Sept. 1995
[Note: The above USS THOMASTON (LSD-28) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS THOMASTON (LSD-28) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]