The USS Washoe County (LST-1165) was constructed by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation. The ship was a landing ship tank and her purpose was to bring troops, materials and transport vehicles to military locations. The tanker was under Lieutenant Commander Robert R. Davis. During the month of January 1954, the ship became a part of the United States Atlantic Fleet. She did her training drills near Virginia, and sailed to Miami, New York City, Havana and Boston.
The Washoe County left for San Diego and traveled through the Panama Canal. She arrived at her destination on January 27th, 1958, where she stayed for several months. The tanker was put to work transporting provisions to Seal Beach, Sand Nicolas Island, and Port Hueneme. The ship was ordered to return to San Diego in June and worked in that location for the remainder of 1958. The Washoe County was on assignment for the Western Pacific operation that occurred in 1959. She then made a trip to Japan and was put to service working in the Okinawa area.
For the first few months in 1960, the tanker was a part of several different campaigns including, Operation Shark Bite, Operation Swan Dive and Operation Bay Island. She worked with many different military groups such as the Army, Air Force, and the Marine Corps Reservists.
Service in the Vietnam War
The Washoe County was sent to assist during the Vietnam War. She was put to work as a transport between the locations of Japan, Okinawa and Vietnam to assist American troops there. She also moved items such as the Amphibious Construction Battalion gear.
The ship was ordered to join with another group who was getting ready for an operation versus the Viet Cong. She was able to support the group with ammunition and supplies.
The Washoe County was decommissioned on November 20th, 1970; she then was placed back into active duty in January 1973, and the tanker was put to work until the end of the year. She was next sent to work with the Peruvian Navy in 1984 with the new name BAP Callao. Later when Peru sought to keep the ship the U.S. sold her to Peru and in 1999 she was officially removed from the Navy List.
The Washoe County was awarded with several awards, including a Presidential Unit Citation, a Navy Unit Commendation, and twelve campaign stars for her assistance during the Vietnam 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.