USS King County LST-857 (1944-1961)
The USS King County LST-857, a tank landing ship, was laid down on September 19, 1944. The Chicago Bridge & Iron Company, located in Seneca, Illinois, built the vessel. She weighed in at 1,625 long tons light and 4,080 long tons full. The King County had a length of 328 feet. She was able to sail at 12 knots per hour. She had a complement of 16 officers and 147 enlisted men. She was first launched on December 6, 1944. After her shakedown she was commissioned on December 29. Lt. Roy Parlier was the first commander of the ship.
Service in the Far East
Her first sailing took her to Guam where she arrived on March 30, 1945. After loading ammunition and bombs she sailed for Iwo Jima. After depositing the bombs and ammunition there, she returned to Guam on May 21. On her return trip she sailed with 334 prisoners. In September she sailed to Japan where she was sent to support occupation operations. She then acted as a shuttle for troops and cargo. In January 1946, the LST-857 sailed to San Francisco. She later sailed to Pearl Harbor where she would be stationed for the following three years.
The LST-857 sailed to Mare Island on January 14, 1950. There she underwent an overhaul. She once again sailed to Pearl Harbor in July. On October 18, 1951, she arrived at Yokohama in Japan, where she acted as a shuttle for men and supplies. She then sailed for the United States where she landed on October 22 in San Diego. The next year, she was renamed for King County in Washington and Texas.
In October 1957, the King County sailed into the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. During this trip she was converted into a test ship. Following the conversion she left for San Diego and sailed to Port Hueneme. In July 1959, the King County continued performing as a missile tracking project when the 11th Naval District took her over. She continued her endeavors out of Port Hueneme.
She then sailed to Long Beach where she was decommissioned on July 19, 1960. The following April, the USS King County was sold to the Zidell Explorations, Inc. company for scrapping. She was awarded for her service in World War II by receiving one battle star. She was also rewarded for her assistance in the Korean conflict with seven battle 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.