USS LST 640 (LST 640)
Tank landing ship of the LST (Mk 2) class
|Navy||The US Navy|
|Type||Tank landing ship|
|Class||LST (Mk 2)|
|Built by||Chicago Bridge and Iron Co. (Seneca, Illinois, U.S.A.)|
|Ordered||17 Jul 1943|
|Laid down||27 May 1944|
|Launched||31 Aug 1944|
|Commissioned||18 Sep 1944|
|End service||30 Apr 1946|
Decommissioned on 30 April 1946.
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Notable events involving LST 640 include:
24 Mar 1945
Landings off Cebu, as part of operation Victor II.
Around 0700I/24, Task Group 74.3 departed Subic Bay for operations. It was made up of the following units; Task Unit 74.3.1 was made up of the light cruiser USS Phoenix (T/Capt. J.H. Duncan, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.S. Berkey, USN) and the destroyers USS Nicholas (T/Cdr. D.C. Lyndon, USN, with COMDESRON 21, T/Capt. J.K.B. Ginder, USN on board) and USS O'Bannon (T/Lt.Cdr. J.A. Pridmore, USN). Task Unit 74.3.2 was made up of the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. R.S. Dowling, RAN) and the destroyers USS Abbot (T/Lt.Cdr. F.W. Ingling, USN) and USS Taylor (T/Lt.Cdr. H.H. de Laureal, USN). Task Unit 74.3.3 was made up of the light cruiser USS Boise (T/Capt. W.M. Downes, USN) and the destroyer USS Fletcher (T/Lt.Cdr. R.R. Green, USN) and USS Jenkins (T/Cdr. P.D. Gallery, USN).
Around 1645I/24, Task Unit 74.3.3 parted company to proceed to Mangarin Bay, Mindoro where they were to remain in reserve.
At 1530I/25, the Attack Force (see below) was joined by the patrol vessel PCE(R)-850 (Lt. J.C. Mallien, USNR) which had on board members of the 8th Army staff. She came from Panay Gulf.
Around 1600I/25, off the southern point of Negros Island, the destroyer HMAS Warramunga (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSC and Bar, RN) joined Task Units 74.3.1 and 74.3.2. She had on board maps for the naval bombardments which were then distributed.
Around 2100I/25, they made rendezvous with the Attack Force to the north-west of Siquijor Island. They then proceeded up Bohol Strait to make for the landing beaches to the south of Cebu City. Task Force 74 was stationed 10 miles ahead of the Attack Force.
The Attack Force (Task Group 78.2) had departed Leyte around 1800I/24 and comprise the following units; Task Unit 78.2.1 was the headquarters (Communications Command) ship USCGC Spencer (Cdr. J.R. Hinnant, USCG, with the overall commander T/Capt. A.T. Sprague, USN on board). Task Unit 78.2.2 were the fast transports USS Lloyd (Lt.Cdr. W.R. Taylor, USNR, with T/Cdr, Wm.S. Parsons, USN, Commanding Officer COMTRANSDIV 103, on board), USS Newman (Lt.Cdr. R.I. Thieme, USNR), USS Kephart (Cdr. I.H. Cammarn, USNR) and USS Cofer (Lt. H.C. McClees, USNR). Task Unit 78.2.3 was the LCI unit which was made up of the following LCI(L)'s; USS LCI(L)-972 (Lt. L.B. Brown, USNR, with COMLCI(L)FLOT 15, T/Cdr. W.V. Deutermann, USN on board), USS LCI(L)-607 (Lt. C.V. Fox, USNR), USS LCI(L)-609 (Lt. K.N. Krecke, USNR), USS LCI(L)-613 (Lt. E.E. Kern, USNR), USS LCI(L)-683 (Lt.(jg) B.H. Keppel, USNR), USS LCI(L)-685 (Lt. P.T. O'Hare, USNR), USS LCI(L)-686 (Lt.(jg) B.H. Keppel, USNR), USS LCI(L)-963 (Lt. W.A. Tomb, Jr., USNR), USS LCI(L)-965 (Lt. A.T. Wellman, USNR), USS LCI(L)-966 (Lt.(jg) R.E. Dein, USNR), USS LCI(L)-970 (Lt. W.A. Moore, Jr., USNR), USS LCI(L)-976 (Lt. W.C. Lawton, USNR), USS LCI(L)-977 (Lt. J.T. Morgan, Jr., USNR), USS LCI(L)-978 (Lt.(jg.) L.B. Huckabee, USNR), USS LCI(L)-980 (Lt.(jg.) K.R. Hopkins, USNR) and USS LCI(L)-984 (Lt.(jg) F.J. Keller, USNR). Task Unit 78.2.4 was the LSM unit which was made up of the following LSM's; USS LSM-168 (Lt. R. Whelan, USNR, with COMLSMGR 24, T/Lt.Cdr. G.F. Baker, USN on board), USS LSM-35 (Lt. J.M. Burke, USNR), USS LSM-50 (Lt. J.C. Rogers, USNR), USS LSM-150 (Lt. G.B. McCauley, USNR), USS LSM-151 (Lt. W.H. Fitzgerald, USNR), USS LSM-219 (Lt. H. Burns, USNR), USS LSM-225 (Ens. F.C. Sheppard, USNR), USS LSM-237 (Lt. J.L. Poole, USNR), USS LSM-268 (Lt. N. Steinberg, USNR), USS LSM-316 (Lt. W.F. Ney, USNR) and USS LSM-317 (Lt. W.J. Ayres, USNR). Task Unit 78.2.5 was the LST unit which was made up of the following LST's; USS LST-640 (Lt. F.P. McKenney, Jr., USNR, with COMLSTFLOT 24, T/Capt. H.B. Hudson, USN on board), USS LST-18 (Lt. F.C. Merriam, USCGR), USS LST-171 (Lt. R.L. McGirl, USNR), USS LST-181 (Lt.(jg) C.V. Lynch, USNR), USS LST-454 (Lt. D.J. Morrison, USNR), USS LST-457 (Lt. W.W. Hacker, USNR), USS LST-560 (Lt. H.T. Holsapple, USNR), USS LST-595 (Lt. A.C. Jackson, USNR), USS LST-619 (Lt. J.M. Brennan, USNR), USS LST-638 (Lt. F. Data, USN), USS LST-709 (Lt. G.P. Cruikshank, USNR), USS LST-777 (Lt. W.F. Lagotic, USN), USS LST-922 (Lt. R.A. Stallings, USN). It also included three LCT's, USS LCT-747 (?), USS LCT-830 (?) and USS LCT-1296 (?). Task Unit 78.2.51 was the LST tractor unit which was made up of the following LST's; USS LST-597 (Lt. W.H. Loving, USNR, with COMLSTGR 70, T/Cdr. D.P. Stickley, USN on board), USS LST-467 (Lt. M.B. Taylor, USN), USS LST-941 (Lt. L.M. Edwards, USN) and USS LST-1035 (Lt. M. Perry, USN). Task Unit 78.2.6 was the support unit; it was made up of the following LCI(R)'s; USS LCI(R)-230 (Lt.(jg) R.M. Prestidge, USNR, with T/Cdr. D.H. Day, USN on board), USS LCI(R)-225 (Lt.(jg) A.F. McCormick, USN), USS LCI(R)-340 (Lt.(jg) J.O. Luby, USN), USS LCI(R)-341 (Lt. E.W. Slavik, USNR), USS LCI(R)-342 (Lt.(jg) J.A. Hynes, USNR) and the following LCS(L)'s; USS LCS(L)-30 (Lt. C.H. Sanders, USNR, with COMLCS(L)GR 1, Lt.Cdr. W.F. Hunt, USNR on board), USS LCS(L)-28 (Lt. R.H. Bost, USNR), USS LCS(L)-29 (Lt. J.F. McNamara, USNR) and USS LCS(L)-50 (Lt. B.T. Clark, USNR). Task Unit 78.2.7 was the control unit and was made up of the following patrol vessels; USS PC-1134 (Lt. O.A. Barge, Jr., USNR with Cdr. A.J. Petersen, USNR on board) and USS PC-1133 (Lt. H.G. Wheelock, USNR). Task Unit 78.2.8 was the screen and was made up of the following destroyers; USS Flusser (T/Lt.Cdr. K.G. Robinson, USN with COMDESRON 5, T/Capt. F.D. McCorkle, USN on board), USS Shaw (T/Lt.Cdr. V.B. Graff, USN), USS Conyngham (T/Lt.Cdr. F.W. Bampton, USN), USS Drayton (T/Lt.Cdr. V.A. Dybdal, USN) and USS Smith (T/Lt.Cdr. E.H. Huff, USN). Task Unit 78.2.9 was the minesweeping unit and was made up of the following YMS's; USS YMS-68 (Lt. G.L. O'Neil, USNR, he was also commanding the minesweeping group), USS YMS-9 (Lt. B.F. Hildes, USNR), USS YMS-46 (Lt.(jg) C.W. Lorer, USNR), USS YMS-52 (Lt.(jg) R.J. Ball, USNR), USS YMS-313 (Lt.(jg) W.H. Reibold, USNR), USS YMS-339 (Lt.(jg) M.E. Fitzgerald, USNR), USS YMS-340 (Lt. P. Schminke, USNR) and USS YMS-481 (Lt.(jg) T.D. Anglin, USNR). Task Unit 78.2.10 was the beach party made up of Beach Party No. 5. Task Unit 78.2.11 was the demolition party and was made up of the USS LCI(D)-228 (Lt.(jg) R.W. Kearns, USNR). Task Unit 78.2.12 was the salvage and service unit and was made up of the tug USS ATA-179 (Lt.(jg) T.C. McClaren, USNR).
At 0538I/26, Task Units 74.3.1 and 73.3.2 were ordered to act independently and take assigned stations to cover minesweeping units. HMAS Warramunga was ordered to patrol in the Hilutungan Channel.
At 0700I/26, USS Phoenix and HMAS Hobart opened the bombardment. For spotting duties two aircraft had been launched by USS Phoenix, one to spot her own gunfire and the other to spot for HMAS Hobart.
Between 0740I/26 and 0750I/26, USS O'Bannon, USS Nicholas, USS Taylor and USS Abbot all join in on bombardment duties.
The bombardment was ceased around at 0825I/26.
At the same time the bombardment started the Attack Force was in it's sheduled position and the command ' Deploy ' was executed. The approach began.
At 0716I/26, the Commander Minesweeping Unit reported that his operations were on schedule with negative results to that time.
Around 0745I/26, USS Spencer anchored in position. The Commander Minesweeping Unit reported completion of sweeping of area ' Orchestra ' with negative results. At 0750I/26, the LST unit carrying LVT's [LVT = Landing Vehicle, Tracked] anchored in position. The control officer reports the Control Vessels anchored in position at the line of departure. The Close Support Unit had gained station. LST's commenced launching LVT's and LCVP's [a type of landing craft]. All units were conforming to the shedule.
At 0815I/26, the first wave (LVT's) left the line of departure. Destroyer bombardment of the beach area ceased at 0822I/26, Close support fire by LCS's and LCI(R)'s began at 0820I/26. The first wave landed at 0828I/26 followed by the second wave (LVT's) at 0831I/26. At 0835I/26, the third wave (LCVP's) landed. At 0837I/26, the Commander Close Support Unit reported mortar fire on the left flank of the beach. The landing force reported the presence of large quantities of land mines on the beach from the hight water mark to the edge of the coconut grove back of the beach. The fourth and fifth waves (LCVP's) landed on shedule, followed by the sixg and seventh waves (LCM's). The artillery embarked in the latter unloaded without difficulty. Reports from the beach indicated that LVT's on the right flank had been able to cross the beach. Troops were working inland. No enemy opposition had developed. Land mines were being cleared. Wave eight (DUKW's) beached at 0910I/26 in time.
Beginning about 0900I/26, a continuous series of explosions took place in Cebu City and it was apparent that the Japanese were destroying the city. Strangely no explosions were noted in the dock area. Sporadic mortar fore landed on the beach, but all in one rather small section which was kept clear and no damage resulted. At 0912I/26, HMAS Hobart took a suspected mortar site under fire. At 0917I/26, the Air Observer reported seeing two enemy planes take off from Lahug air strip. The Combat Air Patrol could not find them. They were not picked up by radar and were not seen again and it is believed that the aircraft flew across the island at low altitude.
Wave 9 (LCI) was slightly delayed. The LCI's could not beach due to the submerged log boom obstacle that had not hampered earlier small craft. They were unloaded just off the beach by LCVP, LCM and LCT. Unloading was completed at 1030I/26. The UDT [Underwater Demolition Team] began the task of clearing the obstruction. The LCT's beached satisfactorily at 0930I/26 and unloaded.
LSM's were held up from beaching until the obstruction could be cleared. Pontoon sections were launched from LST's and towed to a position just off the beach. The high priority LST's were brought in and ramp to ramp unloading into LCT's got underway. At 1045I/26, the Beachmaster called in the first LSM. At 1100I/26, USS LSM 168 reported that he was unloading tanks without difficulty. However, it was apparent that the beach gradient would in general prevent the satisfactory beaching of LSM's and LST's for unloading. Not only was the gradient too low, but a small sand bar off the beach caused both types to ground aft with ramps in varying depths from 5 to 7 feet of water. For a limited with, LSM's could beach fairly well. They beached three at a time and unloaded throughout the day but slowly and with the assistance of bulldozers to haul out drowned vehicles.
At 1130I/26, one roadway had been cleared thru the beach mines ashore and two others were nearing completion. Vehicles were beginning to move across the beach. Ramp to ramp inloading was getting underway. At 1148I/26 mortar of 75mm fire bracketed the control lone and nearby LST's and the PC's and LST's were directed to move to seaward.
The first LST was called in and beached about 1300I/26 and work began immediately to rig a pontoon causeway ramp. Unloading commenced at 1435I/26. Inloading continued with no further enemy gunfire on the beach or unloading area.
At 1535I/26, USS Conyngham reported sighting a possibly periscope in the channel from Cebu Harbour. USS PC 1133 was ordered to investigate. At 1610I/26, USS Flusser and USS Conyngham opened fire on an object sighted in Cebu Harbour Channel. It was reported as the conning tower of a small submarine that broached apparently from running on a bar while submerged. Although straddled, actual hits could not be varified. The Task Group got underway immediately and cleared the harbour, formed cruising disposition and steamed in Bohol Strait for the night, returning to the anchorage at daylight on 27 March. USS PC 1134, USS PC 1133, USS Kephart, USS Newman and USS Cofer were directed to conduct a sonar searxh of the anchorage and vicinity. USS Flusser remained in the area available for fire support if needed. The Close Support Unit remained to screen beached ships against small craft attacks. At 1800I/26, sound search results had so far been negative and the two remaining loaded LSM's and two LST's returned and beached to be unloaded during the night. No positive results were obtained from the A/S search of the anchorage and lower harbour area, but at 0035I/27, USS Newman sighted a midget submarne on the surface in position 10°09'N, 123°51'E. USS Newman opened fire with automatic weapons at 100 yards scoring many hits, attempted to ram but the submarine submerged. Two patterns of depth charges were dropped, one with a shallow setting as ramming missed and second with deep settings. Sonar contact was not regained. There were no other enemy contacts during the night.
At 1700I/26, the Cruiser Covering Force was released and left the area. USS Phoenix, USS Nicholas, USS O'Bannon and USS Taylor set course for Mangarin Bay, Mindoro where they arrived around 1115I/27 where the fuelled and ammunitioned. They departed Mangarin Bay around 1900I/27 for Subic where they arrived around 1000I/28.
HMAS Hobart and HMAS Warramunga set course for Leyte where they were to fuel and ammunition and then proceed to Subic Bay afterwards. They arrived at Leyte (San Pedro Bay) around 0815L/27. They departed Leyte on the 28th and arrived at Subic Bay around 0800I/30.
At 1900I/26, USS Kephart was recalled from the A/S search. The first returning echolon was formed and was known as Task Unit 78.2.15. It was made up of USS Abbot, USS Kephart, USS LSM-168, USS LSM-35, USS LSM-219, USS LSM-150, USS LSM-316, USS LCI(L)-965, USS LCI(L)-980 and USS LCI(L)-984 was ordered to return to Leyte. USS LCI(L)-965, apparently disabled, was being towed by USS LSM-316. They arrived at Leyte on the 28th.
Ongoing minesweeping operations meanwhile all had negative results. Sweeping of the area south of Mactan Island and Cebu Harbour inside the 100 fathom curve to San Fernando was completed.
Upon arrival at the anchorage around 0730I/27, LST beached or commenced unloadinf in stream as directed by the Beachmaster. At 0945I/27, 4 LCI(L)'s were detached to Sibonga, Cebu with 600 guerilla troops. They were covered by an LCS and and LCI(R). This group returned around 1545I/27, mission accomplished. At 1500I/27, an Army detachment using LVT's landed on Cauit Island, covered by LCS's and LCI(R)'s. The minesweeping detachment swept Olango Channel with negative results. During the afternoon troops occupied Cebu City. The docks were reported as essentially undamaged.
At 1900I/27, the second return echolon, known as Task Unit 78.2.16, made up of USS Newman, USS Cofer, PC-1134, PC-1133, USS LST-560, USS LST-595, USS LST-597, USS LSM-50, USS LSM-151, USS LSM-225, USS LSM-237, USS LSM-268 and USS LSM-317 departed for Leyte where they arrived on the 29th.
At 1930I/27, a single unidentified enemy plane flew over the beach and anchorage area. Three or four bombs were dropped harmlessly. No radar warning was received due to the low altitude of the plane over the island, and the plane was not sighted until overhead. A smoke haze lay over the anchorage from fires in Cebu City that made visibility poor during the twilight period. There were no other enemy incidents during the night and the unloading of LST's continued.
On 28 March, unloading continued. Progress was such that it was estimated that it would be completed around 1500I/28. The minesweeping unit swept the southern approaches to Cebu Harbour, area ' Stagedoor ', to 15 feet with negative results. The Close Support Unit covered the northern advance of Army elements from Cebu towards Mandaue and also of one company landing on Mactan Island to secure it.
By 1500I/27, indeed all LST's were unloaded and by 1600I/27 the last returning echolon, Task Unit 78.2.17, was formed up to proceed to Leyte. It was made up of USS Flusser, USS Shaw, USS Drayton, USS Smith, USS PCE(R)-850, the remaining 13 LST's and 2 LCI(R)'s [identities unknown to us]. They arrived at Leyte on 29 March.
At 2320I/27, USS PCE(R)-850 parted company with Task Unit 78.2.17 to land the staff officers she had on board at Tolosa.
At 1800I/27, CTG 78.2 (in USS Spencer turned over command of the objective area to CTU 78.2.14 (COMLCIFLOT 15) and departed for Leyte escorted by USS Conyngham. At Cebu remained 11 LCI's, 4 LCS's, 3 LCI(R)'s, 3 LCT's and the 8 YMS minesweepers. (1)
- Action report of COMTASKGR 74.3 on Cebu City operations 24 - 28 March 1945 + Action report of COMTASKGR 78.2 on Cebu City operations