USS Pender County LST-1080
The USS Pender County LST -1080 was an LST-542-class tank landing ship named after a county in North Carolina. She was laid down by the Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard, Inc on November 10, 1944 in Hingham, Massachusetts. The LST-1080 was launched on May 2, 1945 and commissioned on May 29, 1945.
Service in World War II
After its shakedown, the LST-1080 sailed through the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean. During the remainder of World War II, the landing ship performed service forklifts and logistics missions in the Pacific Ocean. When hostilities ended, the LST-1080 set sail for the west coast. She reported to the Columbia River Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet in Astoria, Oregon for inactivation upon her arrival. On August 29, 1946 the ship was placed out of commission in reserve, berthed at Tounge Point in the Columbia River.
Service in the Korean Conflict
The LST-1080 was reactivated in June 1950, along with many other ships of the mothball fleet, due to the hostilities outbreak in Korea. On October 3, 1950, the ship was re-commissioned to set sail for the Far East in February 1951 after a short shakedown. The LST-1080 arrived in time to take part in the UN counteroffensive, pushing the North Korean and Chinese armies back and beyond the 38th parallel, holding them there for the remainder of the Korean War.
The LST-1080 made many voyages to and from the combat zone in Korea as well as the supported areas in Japan; in addition it participated in a number of logistics and personnel lifts. In early 1952 the ship returned to the U.S. and set sail once again for the Far East in August 1952, after an overhaul, in order to support the United Nations forces in defending against communist offensive operations. This duty was continued until the LST-1080 set sail for home just before the hostilities ceased. When she arrived in the U.S., she was assigned training missions on the west coast.
After the Conflict
Again, in 1954, the LST-1080 made way to the Far East. The ship was transporting supplies and personnel to the United Nations units who were engaged in reconstructing the war-torn Korea. She left out of Yokosuka, Japan on August 31, 1954 to participate in operation “Passage to Freedom” in Indo-China. She made numerous trips from Haiphong to Tourane, Nha Trang, and Saigon in order to ferry indigenous and French refugees and army personnel north of the 14th parallel and out of the area. On November 13, 1954, the ship left Indo-China and visited Manila and Hong Kong prior to sailing back to the United States in February 1955.
The LST-1080 was named Pender County on July 1, 1955; at this time she operated out of San Diego until sailing back to the Far East in the fall of 1956. Arriving in Kobe, Japan on October 2, 1956 allowed her to make four training cruises to Okinawa and Iwo Jima to participate in warfare landing and invasion maneuvers with the United States Marine Corps and Army. She left Yokosuka to head home on January 23, 1957 and arrived in San Diego on February 21, 1957.
She sailed to Hawaii on July 18, 1957 for training maneuvers in the area; she returned to San Diego on August 31, 1957 to perform local operations.
The Pender County arrived in Long Beach, California on September 27, 1957 to be inactivated. She was placed in commission in reserve and assigned to the Long Beach Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet on October 2 and then decommissioned on January 2, 1958. She was removed from the Navy List on February 6, 1959.
The USS Pender County was renamed as Hwa San (LST-816) in January 1959. The Military Assistance Program moved her to the Republic of Korea at this time where she served in the ROK Navy. The LST-1080 earned four battle stars for her Korean War services. Later named LST-679, this ship was used in military services until 1999.
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.