U.S.S. Mount Olympus (AGC-8)

Mount Olympus is the highest peak in the Olympic Range of Washington State, elevation 7,954.

(AGC-8: dp. 12,142 (f.) ; l. 459'2"; b. 63'; d. 25'; s. 15 k.; cpl. 729; a. 2 5", 8 40mm., 20 20mm.; cl. Mount McKinIey)

Mount Olympus (AGC-8), an amphibious force flagship, was laid down 3 August 1943 by North Carolina Shipbuilding Co., IVilmington, N.C.; launched 3 October 1943 as Eclipse, a transport; sponsored by Mrs. W. C. Park; renamed Mount Olympus 27 December 1943; and commissioned at Boston after conversion 24 May 1944, Capt. J. H. Schultz in command.

It was an amphibious force flagship, built on a converted C2-S-AJ1 single-screw freighter hull (7,430 T). Equipped with extensive communications gear and quarters for an amphibious force commander and staff, plus plenty of radio operators, she carried a wartime complement of 633. 

Mount Olympus departed the east coast in early July 1944, arriving Hawaii via the Panama Canal 23 July. With Commander, 3d Amphibious Force, embarked, she was underway from Hawaii 29 August. She arrived Leyte Gulf 20 October, serving as the afloat headquarters for the invasion force. The landing force was subjected to constant air attacks but its survival was assured by the American naval victory in Leyte Gulf, which destroyed the Japanese Navy as an effective combat force.

On 26 October, the flagship departed for Hollandia, New Guinea, via Peleliu, in preparation for the next assault on the Japanese-occupied Philippines. After Invasion rehearsals in Huon Gulf, New Guinea, the ship departed Manus Island, Admiralties, 31 December for the assault on Lingayen 9 January 1945. After the initial assault and with the ground force commander disembarked, Mount Olympus was underway 11 January from Lingayen. She called at Ulithi to allow Commander, 3d Amphibious Force, to disembark to travel by plane to Hawaii, while she herself sailed for overhaul at San Francisco, arriving 11 February and leaving 22 April for Hawaii and Guam.

Arriving Guam 6 July, Mount Olympus sailed on for Manila, colliding en route with oiler Millicoma. The flagship was escorted to San Pedro Bay, Leyte, for repairs by Ajax, then continued to Manila, arriving 3 August. After the clo se of hostilities, Mount Olympus arrived Tokyo Bay 2 September with the 1st Cavalry Division on board for Yokohama. After 8 months' moving occupation troops from the Philippines and other bases to ports In Japan and China, she left Shanghai 28 May 1946 for San Diego,the Panama Canal, and New York, arriving 7 July.

In September she was made flagship for "Operation Highjump", the Navy Antarctic Expedition. The ship sailed from Norfolk 2 December, passed through the Panama Canal to rendezvous with the Pacifle group, and with them reached Bay of Whales, New Zealand , 16 January 1947. Detached 11 February, Mount Olympus returned Norfolk 17 April to become flagship of Commander, Amphibious Group 2, in training along the eastern gmboard and in the Caribbean. She became flagship and temporary headquarters for C INCNELM/CINCSOUTH In the Mediterranean 21 June 1951.

Relieved by Adirondack in August 1951, Mount Olympus returned to Norfolk and duty, as Amphibious Group 2 flagship, joining in NATO naval exercises "Mainbrace" and "Longstep" in northern Europe and the Meditermnean from August to December 1952.

After an overhaul In Norfolk from December to March 1953, when a helicopter deck was installed, she served in the Atlantic Fleet until 5 January 1955, when she sailed for the Panama Canal and San Diego, arriving 23 January.

Having participated In exercise "Surfboard" off the coast of Washington in February, Mount Olympus proceeded to Artie waters as part of Project 572 In support of DEW Line operations. While underway from Point Barrow to Point Hope, Alaska, she b ecame icebound, but was freed by the icebreaker Burton Island. Having sustained damage to structural bulkheads from the ice pressure, the ship was repaired by Current in Point Hope, Mount Olympus returned to San Diego 29 September and 31 O ctober 1955 proceeded to Mare Island Shipyard for inactivation. She decommissioned 4 April 1956 and was struck from the Navy list 1 June 1961. The ship transferred to the Maritime Administration In June 1966 and remains in the Maritime Administration Re serve Fleet, Suisun Bay, Calif., into 1969.

Mount Olympus received two battle stars for World War II service.

Offshore radio station: In 1946, the US Navy Antarctic Developments Project, or 'Operation Highjump', was launched and it was perhaps the biggest single event that the continent had ever seen. It was the beginning of the Cold War and the exercise was designed to give US troops experience in polar conditions - 4700 men, 33 aircraft, 13 ships and 10 caterpillar tractors were deployed, and helicopters and icebreakers were used for the first time in Antarctica. The operation’s leader was Admiral Richard Byrd. The U.S.S. Olympus was the flagship of the operation and the base for all communications. During "Operation Highjump" (from 2nd December 1946 to 17th April 1947) there were radio broadcasts from the ship.

Location: On its way to Little America

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