The amphibious assault vessel USS St. Joseph’s River LSM(R)-527 was built in Houston, Texas, by the Brown Shipbuilding Company Incorporated, beginning on May 19, 1945. Launched on June 16, she was commissioned on August 24. Since World War II had come to a close, the ship, known only as the LSM(R)-527 at that point, served for only three months on her first commission.
Service in Korea
The LSM(R)-527 remained inactive at Green Cove Springs, Florida, until the Korean War broke out in 1950. After training, the ship was assigned to the Pacific Fleet, but operated around the U.S. west coast and the Panama Canal Zone until May of 1952. Arriving at Yokosuka, Japan, she was then sent to the “Nan” area on the west coast of Korea, where she helped to defend the islands held by U.N. troops.
Between tours of duty, she returned to Japan, sailing out of the U.S. Naval base at Sasebo. In October, she bombarded the shores of Kojo in support of the amphibious feint there, and through the rest of the year operated around the islands of Cho-Do and Sok-To. After further activities and exercises in the area, the LSM(R)-527 set out for California in February 1953. She arrived in San Diego in March, and remained there for nearly a year before returning to the Western Pacific in 1954. She continued to perform routine duties and transport cargo, and returned to the U.S. on November 7.
After the War
The LSM(R)-527 sailed to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, where she joined the Pacific Reserve Fleet. She was decommissioned on August 5, 1955, and sent back to San Diego. In October, she was finally renamed for the St. Joseph’s River, but she remained in San Diego until 1960, when she was transferred to the Korean Navy and commissioned as the ROKS Si Hung. She served in Korea until being scrapped in 1982. For her service in the U.S. Navy, the St. Joseph’s River received two Korean War 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.