USS Mt McKinley (AGC-7)

Mount McKinley is the highest mountain in North America, elevation 20,269 feet, located in south-central Alaska.

Specifications: Displacement 7,500 t.(lt), 12,580 t.(fl). Length 459'3"; Beam 63'; Draft 28'2"; Speed 15kts; Complement 54 Officers, 568 Enlisted; Armament two 5"/38 dual purpose gun mounts, four twin mount 40mm, ten twin mount 20mm; Propulsion, 1 General Electric Geared turbine drive, 2 Babcock & Wilcox header-type boilers, single propeller, designed shaft horsepower 6,000.

MOUNT McKINLEY (AGC-7), was laid down as CYCLONE, a transport, 31 July 1943 by North Carolina Shipbuilding Co., Wilmington, N.C.; launched 27 September; sponsored by Mrs. T. L Lainer; renamed MOUNT McKINLEY 27 December 1943; and commissioned in Philadelphia Naval Shipyard 1 May 1944; Capt. W. M. Graham in command. After a brief shakedown cruise, she departed Norfolk 8 June for Hawaii, arriving Pearl Harbor 27 June. The new AGC got underway 20 July, for the Palau Islands with Amphibious Group 5 embarked. The assault force arrived off Peleliu 15 September, with ComPhibGru 5 directing the landing of the 1st Marine Division. On 28 September, AGC-7 proceeded to nearby Ngesebus Island to provide shore bombardment coordination. MOUNT McKINLEY left the area 14 October after Peleliu and the other main islands of the chain were secure. After a stop at Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea, the ship sailed to San Pedro Bay, Leyte Gulf, for the assault on Leyte and Ormoc. While in San Pedro Bay, the force was under constant air attack, but the AGC was not hit. On 15 December, the ship participated in the invasion of Mindoro and proceeded to Lingayen Gulf to direct shore bombardment on 9 January. After directing an unopposed landing at San Narcisco, near Subic Bay, the command ship returned to Leyte Gulf. On 21 March 1945, MOUNT McKINLEY proceeded to Kerama Retto off the southern coast of Okinawa. Six days prior to the last major assault of the war, AGC-7 directed the landing of the 77th Infantry Division. For the next 2 months, the ship remained at anchorage at Kerama Retto, threatened by constant air attacks. On 22 May, she sailed for Saipan, thence to Pearl Harbor and San Francisco, arriving in CONUS (Continental United States) 23 June. In overhaul for 2 months, she deployed 20 August. Arriving Sasebo 23 September, she participated in landing occupation troops there and at Kure. 

Returning to the United States 12 February 1946, she sailed in the early summer for Bikini Atoll where she was flagship for operation "Cross Roads." Following the atomic bomb test in July, the ship operated out of San Diego for the next 18 months. 

In early 1948, she was the command ship for the atomic bomb test at Eniwetok. Upon completion of these tests, she returned to San Diego to resume coastal operations. On 20 May 1950, MOUNT McKINLEY was underway for WestPac to conduct training operations with the 8th Army. On 26 June, when North Korea launched their aggression against the South, the ship proceeded from Japan to direct the landing of American reinforcements at Po Han. In early September 1950, General MacArthur was on board, directing the brilliant amphibious assault at Inchon which forced the Communist to scurry north in headlong retreat. The next assault was against the heavily mined port of Wonsan. When Red Chinese troops entered the war, and American troops were pushed back to the Hungnam beachhead, MOUNT McKINLEY assisted in the evacuation. In late January 1951, she assisted in the transfer of thousands of Korean refugees to Cheja Island. On 7 June 1951, MOUNT McKINLEY sailed from Yokosuka and entered Mare Island Naval Shipyard 3 August for an extensive overhaul. MOUNT McKINLEY departed for WestPac, 6 March 1952, returning to the States 30 January 1953. While in Mare Island Naval Shipyard, a helicopter deck was installed on the fantail. AGC-7 sailed again, 27 October 1953, for her third tour of duty in the Korean war area, arriving Yokosuka 16 November. From then until her departure for the States 30 July 1954, she was involved in fleet and amphibious exercises off Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. After arrival in San Diego 18 August, the remainder of the year was spent in local operations and a month-long training exercise off Hawaii in October. In the spring of 1955, MOUNT McKINLEY served as flagship for operation "Wigwam," an underwater atomic bomb test in the central Pacific. 

After a yard overhaul in the summer of 1955, the amphibious flagship returned to WestPac in January 1956 for a 3-month period. In April, she was press observer ship for further nuclear tests. On 3 June, the ship returned to San Diego and was detached from the Pacific Fleet 1 September. She arrived Norfolk 20 September via Panama Canal. The following January 9th, AGC-7 deployed to the Mediterranean. While in the eastern Mediterranean, the ship rescued the crew of a burning Greek fishing vessel, extinguished the fire, and towed the damaged vessel into port. After conducting NATO and fleet exercises in the Mediterranean, she returned to Norfolk 19 June. September and early October were spent in NATO exercises in the eastern Atlantic. In January 1958, MOUNT McKINLEY deployed to the 6th Fleet, operating with the Amphibious Ready Group in NATO and U.S. exercises. Due to return to the States in June, the ship's departure was delayed due to increasing tensions in the Mideast. The ship served as an afloat headquarters for the Marine force landed in Lebanon during the crisis of July 1958. She returned to Norfolk 16 August. MOUNT McKINLEY's third Mediterranean cruise from 20 February to 26 August 1959 was marked by seven amphibious exercises involving U.S. and NATO forces. In February 1960, the ship sailed to Valpariso, Chile, via the Panama Canal to provide communications support for President Eisenhower's good will visit to Latin America. On 19 April, the AGC deployed to the 6th Fleet, returning to Norfolk 7 December. Upon completion of her yard period in the summer of 1981, MOUNT McKINLEY made her fifth deployment to the Mediterranean from September to February 1962, acting as flagship for several large-scale amphibious exercises. In October, during the Cuban missile crisis, MOUNT McKINLEY served at flagship for ComPhibLant and ComPhibGru 4. 

Following the Cuban quarantine, she sailed for the Mediterranean 10 January 1963 to act as command flagship for the Amphibious Strike Force. Arriving back in Norfolk 2 August 1963, she entered Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for a FRAM II overhaul, extending from September to January 1964. After refresher training and exercise "Quick Kick V," AGC-7 departed Norfolk 10 May, arriving San Diego 26 May via the Panama Canal. Immediately after the Tonkin Gulf incident, she was ordered to Southeast Asia. She sailed from San Diego 25 August, arriving Luzon 16 September. She relieved sister ship ELDORADO (AGC-11) at Subic Bay a week later, becoming flagship of the 7th Fleet, Amphibious Strike Force. Taking station in South China Sea, with other elements of Amphibious Group 1, AGC-7 stood prepared for any contingency. While proceeding to Bangkok, MOUNT McKINLEY came to assistance of HERKIMER, whose master was severely ill. HERKIMER's captain was taken on board for further treatment in Singapore while the MSTS ship sailed on to Saigon. In early March and again in mid-April, the flagship coordinated the landing of Marine reinforcements at Da Nang and Hue, South Vietnam. Relieved by sister ship ESTES (AGC-12) at Subic Bay in April, she arrived San Diego 15 May 1965. The command ship sailed again from San Diego 15 March, arriving Subic Bay 17 April via Pearl Harbor. Based there, the ship visited ports in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Okinawa, acting as flagship of ComPhibGru 1. On 23 August, MOUNT McKINLEY sailed for home, arriving 19 September 1966. 

She sailed on her third WestPac deployment 1 July, arriving Da Nang 28 July to become once more the flagship of Commander, 7th Fleet Amphibious Force. She provided communication, support for search and destroy operations against the Vietcong and North Vietnamese regulars. As in earlier deployments, support for our military forces was combined with civic action for the benefit of the helpless civilian victims of war. Relieved in mid-January, AGC-7 sailed east for CONUS and home, arriving San Diego 10 February 1968. The ship's designation was changed from AGC-7 to Amphibious Command Ship LCC-7 on 1 January 1969. Since her arrival back in CONUS, she has been engaged in type training and amphibious exercises on the west coast as flagship of ComPhibGru 3 into 1969. MOUNT McKINLEY received four battle stars for World War II service and eight stars for Korean service. [Stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 30 July 1976, MOUNT McKINLEY was disposed of by “Maritime Administration Sale” on 22 September 1977.]

Offshore radio station: Operation Crossroads was an atmospheric nuclear weapon test series conducted in the summer of 1946. The series consisted of two detonations, each with a yield of 23 kilotons:
1. ABLE detonated at an altitude of 520 feet (158 meters) on 1 July
2. BAKER detonated 90 feet (27 meters) underwater on 25 July.

It was the first nuclear test held in the Marshall Islands.

The series was to study the effects of nuclear weapons on ships, equipment, and material. A fleet of more than 90 vessels was assembled in Bikini Lagoon as a target. This target fleet consisted of older U.S. capital ships, three captured German and Japanese ships, surplus U.S. cruisers, destroyers and submarines, and a large number of auxiliary and amphibious vessels. Military equipment was arrayed on some of the ships as well as amphibious craft that were berthed on Bikini Island.

The support fleet of more than 150 ships provided quarters, experimental stations, and workshops for most of the 42,000 men (more than 37,000 of whom were Navy personnel) of Joint Task Force 1 (JTF 1), the organization that conducted the tests. Additional personnel were located on nearby atolls such as Eniwetok and Kwajalein. The islands of the Bikini Atoll were used primarily as recreation and instrumentation sites.

During the second test, broadcast ship Spindle Eye was wisely moved to Hawaii to improve radio transmission to the United states by acting as relay between the Appalachian and Mt McKinley and the mainland. [Taken from: Radio News, September 1946]

Location: The Kwajalein lagoon in the Marshall Islands, Mid-Pacific

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