The USS Windham County (LST-1170), which was known as the USS LST-1170, was a U.S. Navy landing ship tank that served from 1954 to 1973. It was laid down April 21, 1953, and launched on May 22 1954. It joined the United States Atlantic Fleet at its home port in 1955. After its shakedown it was renamed to the USS Windham County in July 1955. Following an overhaul and conversion in 1956, it operated off the Virginia Capes until mid-March 1957. The USS Windham County later engaged in operations off of Barbados and then operated based in Little Creek from April until May 1957.
Service in the Korean and Vietnam War
The USS Windham Â is most renowned for its work during the Vietnam War. Prior to that, it participated in SEATO Operation Tunlugan and supported the People to People program in the Pacific. It went to South Korea to participate in Operation Firehouse in Chumunhim, South Korea, and in a joint Taiwanese and American assault known as Operation Backpack at Che Cheng, Taiwan.
During the Vietnam War, the USS Windham County was involved in Operation Schoolhouse Lift to deliver prefabricated structures to villages in the Philippines. It also supported Operation Badger Hunt and later moved to Due Pho to do salvage operations for other ships such as the USS Clarke County and the USS Iredell County, which was aground. The Windham then escorted the Irdell to Danang. It later returned to Due Pho to provide a ready helicopter for other operations in and around the area.
The ship got underway to Kaohsiung Taiwan in 1968 to support operation Exercise Former Champ. It also participated in Exercise Final Round with the Taiwanese. It was a support for Task Group 117.2, providing 152 jeeps at Wunder Beach, and also served 2 months of duty in river time warfare. In 1970 the ship took part in Operation Golden Dragon with the South Koreans. For the USS Windham’s service in the Vietnam War, the ship received 11 battle stars, 3 Meritorious Unit Commendations, and 3 Navy Unit Commendations.
In 1972, it underwent extensive preparations to be transferred to the Turkish Navy. It was decommissioned in 1973 and turned over to Turkey to be used as a training ship. It was renamed the TCG Ertugrul L401. It was eventually struck from the U.S. Navy list in August 1989.
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 to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.