USS Gilliam

Career (USA)
Name: USS Gilliam (APA-57)
Builder: Consolidated Steel
Launched: 28 March 1944
Sponsored by: Mrs. A. O. Williams of Wilmington
Acquired: 31 July 1944
Commissioned: 1 August 1944
Decommissioned: N/A
Struck: N/A
Honours and
awards:
Two battle stars for World War II service
Fate: Sunk during Operation Crossroads on 1 July 1946 at Bikini Atoll
General characteristics
Class & type: Gilliam-class attack transport
Displacement: 4,247 tons (lt), 7,080 t.(fl)
Length: 426 ft (130 m)
Beam: 58 ft (18 m)
Draft: 16 ft (4.9 m)
Propulsion: Westinghouse turboelectric drive, 2 boilers, 2 propellers, Design shaft horsepower 6,000
Speed: 16.9 knots
Capacity: 47 Officers, 802 Enlisted; cargo 85,000 cu ft, 600 tons
Complement: 27 Officers 295 Enlisted
Armament: 1 x 5"/38 caliber dual-purpose gun mount, 4 x twin 40mm gun mounts, 10 x single 20mm gun mounts
Notes: MCV Hull No. 1850, hull type S4-SE2-BD1

USS Gilliam (APA-57), named for Gilliam County in Oregon, was the lead ship in the her class of attack transports serving in the United States Navy during World War II.

She was launched 28 March 1944 under a Maritime Commission contract by the Consolidated Steel Corporation, Wilmington, California; sponsored by Mrs. A. O. Williams of Wilmington; acquired 31 July 1944; and commissioned 1 August 1944, Comdr. H. B. Olsen in command.

Operational history

World War II

The first of a new type of attack transport, Gilliam stood out of San Francisco Bay 16 October 1944 with 750 United States Army troops for Oro Bay, New Guinea, and delivered them to that port 4 November. Embarking nearly 1000 troops of the U.S. 11th Airborne Division, she sailed a week later and off-loaded her passengers at Leyte, subsequently returning to Humboldt Bay, New Guinea, 22 November. Gilliam got underway again 29 November under orders to steam to Leyte Gulf and embark elements of the 6th Army Headquarters for passage to Lingayen Gulf.

Heavy air attacks

Gilliam was part of a 36-ship convoy churning toward the Philippines when, on 5 December 1944, the convoy came under heavy air attack while 100 miles (160 km) from Leyte Gulf. At 12:18 Gilliam spotted a plane coming in low on the water at deck level, headed for the middle of the convoy. Coming under limited fire, the Japanese plane released a torpedo 2 minutes later which smashed into SS Antoine Saugrain. Just after 12:30 two more planes came in low and fast, and one got another torpedo into the stricken merchantman, which was then dead in the water.

Intense fire from the convoy drove the planes off, but later that afternoon another Japanese aircraft dove in at 15:30, and after running into heavy fire, made a suicide crash on SS Marcus Daly. The Japanese caught her on the bow at waterline and started fires and explosions. A second kamikaze tried his luck but missed and crashed into the sea after repeated hits from the convoy's gunners.

Anton Saugraine and Marcus Daly were kept afloat by quick damage control, but the former ship was attacked again the next day while under tow and finally sunk. During this engagement, Gilliam's unflinching crew stood at General Quarters for nearly 12 hours and the ship reached Leyte 6 December without damage.

Invasion of Luzon

At Leyte Gilliam acted as receiving ship for the crews of damaged warships and undertook medical and salvage operations in spite of continued air alerts. After embarking over 500 soldiers at Tacloban, she sailed from that port 7 January 1945 bringing troops to Lingayen Gulf in support of the invasion. She returned to Leyte on 14 January to embark elements of the 32nd Infantry Division and brought them safely back to Lingayen Gulf 27 January.

Invasion of Okinawa

After loading casualties for passage to Leyte, Gilliam sailed from that port 2 February to embark Marines of the III Amphibious Corps at Guadalcanal and conducted training exercises in preparation for the coming invasion of Okinawa.

Gilliam closed Okinawa on 1 April and in the face of kamikaze attacks debarked reconnaissance parties of the 3d Amphibious Corps and unloaded vital cargo. On 5 April she sailed for the United States via Saipan and Pearl Harbor, mooring at San Francisco 27 April for drydock repairs.

Subsequently Gilliam embarked men of the 6th Seabee Battalion a Port Hueneme, California, and sailed 28 May 1945 for Okinawa via Eniwetok and Ulithi. She off-loaded cargo and passengers at Okinawa and then headed back to San Francisco.

After hostilities

Gilliam arrived back at San Francisco on 10 August, where nearly 1,000 troops were embarked and brought to Pearl Harbor on 27 August. Men of the Headquarters and Service Battalions, 5th Amphibious Corps came on board at Hawaii, and Gilliam sailed 1 September for Sasebo, Japan, and put her occupation troops ashore 3 weeks later.

On 25 September 1945 she got underway for Manila, and after embarking more than 450 veterans of the 33rd Infantry Division at Lingayen Gulf, she carried them to Sasebo, arriving 15 October.

Operation Magic Carpet

After returning to Cebu in the Philippines 29 October, she became part of the Operation Magic Carpet fleet and sailed 2 November with 1,000 sailors and soldiers, debarking them at Portland, Oregon, 21 November 1945.

Operation Crossroads

Following a voyage to Samar, Gilliam moored at Pearl Harbor on 16 February 1946 and prepared to participate in the atomic bomb tests at Bikini atoll in the summer of 1946. On the morning of 1 July 1946, Gilliam, a target ship for Test Able, was the first ship struck by the blast and sunk in Bikini lagoon.

Decorations

Gilliam received two battle stars for World War II service.

References

  • (APA-57), DANFS Online.
  • , Navsource Online.

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

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