USS Caroline County (LST-525) was one of a thousand tank-landing ships laid down in the United States during World War II.Â The Jeffersonville Boat & Machine Company began construction on the LST-525 on October 18, 1943 in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The vessel measured 328 feet in length, topped out at a speed of 12 knots, and carried an estimated 130 officers and enlisted men in addition to hardware. She set sail just two months later, sponsored by Mrs. Anna Mae Federspiel. Ensign James R. Stevens took command when the LST-525 was commissioned for the first time on February 14, 1944.
Service in World War II
The LST-525 deployed to the European theater in the spring of 1944. She joined Convoy UGS-36 in April, one of the many trans-Atlantic fleets carrying rations, munitions and military equipment bound for Gibraltar. She spent August and September 1944 serving the landing parties of Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France. The U.S. Navy decommissioned the LST-525 on June 25, 1946.
Service in the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War
In October 1950, the Caroline County was brought about and reactivated. She deployed on combat-readiness missions with the U.S. Atlantic Fleet Amphibious Force until, once again, the Navy terminated her by decommission on September 15, 1954. The Navy renamed her the USS Caroline County (LST-525) on July 1, 1955, after the Maryland and Virginia Counties.
The Caroline County had her third and final commission in the middle of 1965. She set off for a one-year stretch, from 1967-1968, to support the Riverines, a joint Army-Navy force charged with transport and combat missions in Vietnam.
After the Wars
In early 1970 the U.S. Navy deactivated Caroline County for the last time. She was removed from the Naval Register on September 15, 1974, and sold for scrap less than one year later.Â The U.S. Navy awarded two battle stars to the LST-525 for her World War II service. As the Caroline County, the ship received four battles stars for her service in the Vietnam War.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, some auxiliary vessels also posed a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, includingÂ mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.