The USS Jefferson County began her service as a tank landing ship with the designation of LST-845. She was commissioned in January of 1945 after being built by the American Bridge Co. She received her shakedown training off the coast of Florida and then proceeded to the West Coast.
Action in World War II and Korea
After taking on cargo in San Diego and San Francisco, she sailed for Maui. She then had amphibious training operations in Maui in April. During these training exercises, her hull was damaged by the heavy surf. In August, she left Pearl Harbor laden down with troops, arriving in Sasebo in September and supporting the occupation landings before going to the Philippines. From here, she picked up more troops to take to Japan and support the operations at Kyushu Island. She then headed back to Pearl Harbor in January of 1946. After helping the Chinese Nationalist troops by ferrying supplies, she returned to the West Coast of the United States in December of 1946.
When hostilities began between North and South Korea, the LST-845 was sent to the Far East. She took on troops at Kobe to land at Inchon and aid the Allied effort to protect South Korea. She remained at this port for another month, but then traveled to the east coast of Korea to transport cargo between ports there. When China entered the war during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, the LST-845 helped to evacuate U.S. troops from Hungnam. Throughout the beginning of 1951, the ship continued to make cargo runs between Japan and Korea. Following training at San Diego, she returned to Korea to support the naval supply line to the south.
After the War
In 1954, the LST-845 was once again deployed with the 7th Fleet to perform cargo runs among the Japanese islands and Korea. As the Vietnam War heated up, she supported Operation Passage to Freedom and ferried supplies and refugees to South Vietnam. She arrived back in the U.S. on December 12.
The next year, the ship was renamed the USS Jefferson County. Over the next few years, she performed more cargo runs in the Far East and helped created Air Force bases in the Marshall Islands. She was finally taken out of commission on November 28, 1960, and put into the Pacific Reserve Fleet. In 1961, she was struck from the Naval Register and sold to a Portland company for scrap. Overall, she received five battle stars for her service in the Korean 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, 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.