USS Tioga County LST-1158
Awarded three battle stars for its service during the Vietnam War, the USS Tioga County LST 1158 was commissioned by the United States Navy from June 20, 1953 to Dec. 23, 1970. The Tioga County was laid down in Bath, Maine on June 16, 1952 by BIW. BIW launched the Tioga County on April 11, 1953 under the sponsorship of Mrs. Joseph A. Callaghan.
Featuring a light displacement of 2,590 tons and a full displacement of 5,800 tons, the Tioga County spanned 384 feet (117 meters) in length with a beam that was 55 feet (17 meters) and a draft that was 17 feet (5.2 meters). She was able to propel herself up to a speed of 14 knots using four General Motors’ 16-278A diesel engines and two controllable-pitch propellers that were powered by six thousand shp. A complement of two hundred and five men comprised of sixteen officers and a hundred and eighty-nine enlistees manned the ship, her three twin 76.2 millimeter dual-purpose gun mounts and her five single 20 millimeter antiaircraft gun mounts.
Designed to support amphibious operations by carrying vehicles, cargo, and landing troops directly onto an unimproved shore, the Tioga County possessed the ability to hold a vehicle, three landing crafts and one LCPL and personnel LCVPs. In all, they carried three hundred ninety-five troops consisting of fifteen officers and three hundred eighty enlisted men.
Originally known only as the LST 1158, she was renamed the Tioga County on July 2, 1955. During her deployments in the Pacific, she operated out of San Diego, Calif., the Hawaiian and Aleutian Islands, the Philippines, Japan, and South Vietnam. She received her three battle stars for her participation in the first three phases of the Vietnam Counteroffensives. After being decommissioned, she was placed in reserve at San Diego with the inactive fleet.
In 1972, the Tioga County was reactivated in non-commissioned status as a cargo ship with a civil service crew under the Military Sealift Command. Designated as the USNS Tioga County T-LST 1158, she was used to replenish Navy ships and transport military personnel. She continued in this role until she was struck from the Navy List on Nov. 1, 1973 and transferred to the Maritime Administration for layup in the National Defense Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay in Benecia, CA. She was sold for scrap on July 21, 2005.
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.