The USNS Harris County (T-LST-822) was a 1,600 ton LST-542-class tank landing ship, built in Evansville, Indiana and commissioned on November 23, 1944.
Service in World War II
Following shakedown off the coast of Florida, the LST-822 deployed to the Pacific Theater, arriving at Pearl Harbor on February 6, 1945. She conducted training until March 15, then headed west, carrying Army troops and their equipment. Her ultimate destination was Okinawa but she put in at Ulithi to prepare for the landing. The ship arrived at Okinawa April 18, one week after the initial invasion. The LST-822 operated in the Okinawa area for three weeks delivering supplies to ground forces. During that time, she withstood 18 Japanese air attacks.
Her next assignment took her to Biak where she loaded troops bound for Okinawa. Arriving at Naha on July 4 she took on elements of the 108th Armored Tank Battalion, transferring them to Cebu, and embarking replacement forces for delivery at le Shima in the Ryukyus. After the war ended, she made several trips ferrying occupation troops from the Philippines to Japan. She returned to the United States in March, was decommissioned July 27 and transferred to the Reserve Fleet.
Service in the Korean Conflict
As fighting broke out in Korea, the LST-822 was re-commissioned November 23, 1951. She arrived in Japan on March 23, spending the following four months in support of amphibious operations. After returning stateside in August the ship conducted training on the West Coast.
Her next Korean deployment began in April, 1952. She spent most of the next year shuttling between Japan and the peninsula, carrying troops and supplies. Pulling into San Diego in March, the remainder of the year was spent training. In early 1954 she departed to the Far East for supply duty. From August to October the ship participated in operation “Passage to Freedom”, helping to transport nearly 300,000 Vietnamese citizens from the north to the south. She then returned to San Diego, arriving on December 20.
Her next duty took her to the Arctic Ocean in June 1955. The LST-822 was named Harris County on July 1 and remained in Alaskan waters until September. From December 1955 to January 1956 she underwent overhaul. The ship was put on reserve at Mare Island, California in February. One month later she joined the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS). The ship received a total of five Battle Stars, one for WW II and four for Korea.
The Harris County was sold to the Philippines in 1976.
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.