The USS Colonial (LSD-18), a Casa Grande-class dock landing ship, was launched by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock in Newport News, Virginia on February 28, 1945. Her commission date was May 15, 1945 and her commanding officer was Lt. Commander J. A. Paterson, USNR.
On July 26, 1945, the Colonial departed from Norfolk, sailing for Pearl Harbor. She arrived on September 5 and was assigned to ferry landing craft, departing on September 11 for the Pacific and Okinawa, arriving back at Pearl Harbor on December 26. She was then reassigned to Norfolk, arriving on January 23, 1946.
Service in the Korean War
She trained off Norfolk in amphibious techniques, also participating in exercises off the east coast and the Caribbean. She cruised off Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Newfoundland. On August 15, 1950, the Colonial was assigned to the Orient. Dispatched to Kobe in September, she delivered 1st Marine tanks and troops to Inchon and, in December, to Iwon and Wonsan. Off Korea, she was a floating base for minesweepers for several weeks, then returned to San Diego August 27. Before redeployment to the Far East, she went in for overhaul, then headed east on January 17. She was assigned as support for minesweepers at Wonsan Harbor, then returned to San Diego on November 4, 1952.
After the War
The Colonial undertook a routine of training operations, both locally at San Diego, and was occasionally deployed to the Far East from the end of the Korean War carrying through to 1960. Her duties included transporting Marines from August 5 to September 9, 1953 to Korea, then embarking on a western Pacific tour in October lasting until July 1954. She assisted in developing new techniques in amphibious assault tactics using helicopters, then returned to the Far East in early 1955 where she assisted at the Tachen Islands in evacuation of over 28,000 people.
During the summer of 1956, the Colonial was used for laboratory experiments at sea to study several types of radiation produced by solar flares in the upper atmosphere. She returned to the Far East in 1957, and in May, aided a grounded Chinese freighter. During her 1958-1959 tour, she assisted American tanker the Wang Bucaneer who was disabled at sea.
The Colonial also served during the Vietnam War from 1965-1968.
She was decommissioned in 1970 at Vallejo, California and assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet. The Colonial was struck from the Navy Register October 15, 1976. For service in the Korean War she was awarded seven battle stars, and for Vietnam War service, six campaign stars.
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, including 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.