USS Telfair (APA-210)
USS Telfair (APA/LPA-210) was a Haskell-class attack transport that saw service with the US Navy in World War II and the Korean War. She remained in service through most of the 1950s and 1960s, where she participated in various peacetime operations. Telfair was named for Telfair County, Georgia, which was itself named after Edward Telfair, the second Governor of the state, a member of the Continental Congress, and a signer of the Articles of Confederation.
Telfair was laid down 30 May 1944, under a Maritime Commission (MARCOM) contract, MCV hull 558, by Permanente Metals Corporation, Yard No. 2, Richmond, California; launched 30 August 1944; sponsored by Mrs. J. L. Cauthorn; and commissioned at San Francisco 31 October 1944, Commander Lyle O. Armel, USNR, in command.
Following fitting out at Oakland, California, and shakedown and amphibious training off San Pedro, California, the attack transport returned via San Diego to San Francisco to load troops and cargo for her first westward voyage.
On the second day of 1945, she sailed westward and reached Pearl Harbor on 8 January. Nine days later, Telfair resumed her voyage carrying elements of the 111th Infantry to the Palaus for garrison duty. She disembarked troops at Peleliu between 30 January, and 6 February, and then continued on to the Philippines, arriving at Leyte on 9 February, to prepare for the invasion of the Ryūkyūs.
United States Away MORRIS 9 Jerseys
, the attack transport embarked elements of the Army’s 77th Division and sortied from San Pedro Bay with Task Group (TG) 51.1.
The “Western Islands Attack Group”, as TG 51.1 was called, was responsible for conducting the prelude to the Okinawa invasion by securing the anchorage at Kerama Retto, a small cluster of islands just to the south and west of Okinawa. Accordingly, it was the first element engaged in combat in the vicinity of Okinawa during the actual invasion operation. Between 25 March and 2 April, Telfair participated in the assault and occupation of those key islets.
On 30 March, she reembarked her troops, and, on the afternoon of 2 April, she cleared the roadstead for a waiting area to the south. That evening, just after 18:30, her task group was jumped by 10 or more kamikazes. Telfair and her sister-ship Goodhue “…were attacked by three planes in rapid succession.” Her gunners and those of Goodhue combined to explode one in mid-air. A second, after ricocheting between her starboard and port kingposts, smacked into Telfair‘s bulwark, then careened over the side. The third, his glide deflected by gunfire, crashed into Goodhue‘s cargo boom, smashed her after 20-millimeter gun tubs, and joined his compatriot in the sea.
Telfair remained in the vicinity of Okinawa supporting the invasion until 26 April, when she got underway for Ulithi Atoll in the Western Carolines. She entered the lagoon on 30 April, replenished, and repaired battle damage until 22 May. On that day, the attack transport headed east to return to the United States. She reached Seattle, Washington, on 13 June, disembarked passengers, and underwent further repairs.
On 26 June, she steamed out of Puget Sound and again pointed her bow westward. On 13 July, she delivered US Army hospital units safely to Saipan. Four days later, Telfair left the Marianas, bound for San Francisco, where she arrived on the last day of July.
Putting to sea once more on 12 August, the attack transport shaped a course for Ulithi, but peace had returned to the Pacific before she reached that atoll on 28 August. Over the next two months, she steamed between Luzon and Leyte in the Philippines, visiting Manila from 1 to 13 October. On 16 October, she departed Lingayen Gulf to land occupation troops in Japan. She made Hiro Wan and Kure, at Honshū, on 20 October, and subsequently landed her passengers.
At the end of October, Telfair reported for Operation Magic Carpet duty. On 2 November, she arrived at Samar, in the Philippines, where she embarked her first load of veterans for the return voyage to the United States. On the 4th, the attack transport departed the Philippines and, after almost three weeks at sea, entered port at Portland, Oregon. Telfair remained on the west coast until Christmas Eve when she weighed anchor to return to the western Pacific. She stopped at Saipan at the end of the first week in January 1946; then continued on to Manila where she moored on 12 January. For the next two months, she operated in the Philippine Islands, visiting Subic Bay and Samar.
She departed Samar on 5 March, and, after calling at Pearl Harbor, reached San Francisco on 25 March. On 8 April, she arrived at Stockton, California, to begin inactivation overhaul. On 20 July, she was inactive and berthed with the Stockton Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet.
The North Korean attack upon the Republic of Korea in June 1950, returned Telfair to life. She was ordered activated on 7 August, and actually rejoined the US Pacific Fleet when she was recommissioned on 12 September 1950, Captain John Andrews, Jr., in command. During the period of fighting in Korea, roughly June 1950 to July 1953 sports team uniforms, Telfair deployed to the western Pacific on three separate occasions.
During the first, from October 1950 to July 1951, she visited Yokosuka, Kobe, and Sasebo in Japan and Inchon and Chinnampo in Korea, shuttling troops from the former three ports to the latter two. Her first and second Korean War deployments were separated by six months of operations along the west coast of the United States.
Her second tour began with her departure from San Francisco on 26 January 1952, and ended upon her return to the west coast at San Diego on 24 May. In the intervening period, she saw no actual Korean service, but steamed between Okinawa, Kobe, Yokosuka, and Sasebo primarily engaged in training United Nations troops in amphibious operations.
Her third and final deployment during the Korean War began on 30 October 1952 after four months on the west coast. It took her to the already-familiar Japanese ports and to Manila, Subic Bay, and Hong Kong, as well as the Korean ports of Pusan, Inchon, the island of Koje Do and to the vicinity of Sokcho Ri. Telfair returned to San Diego on 20 April 1953, and resumed operations in the eastern Pacific.
Between August 1953 and February 1958, Telfair made three more deployments to the western Pacific. For the most part, her duties during those visits to the Far East consisted of lifting United Nations troops from now-peaceful Korea; shuttling troops and supplies between American bases in Korea, Japan, Okinawa, and the Philippines, and participating in 7th Fleet amphibious exercises.
In August 1954, however, she did depart from her normal routine to participate in Operation “Passage to Freedom”, in which Navy ships evacuated Vietnamese refugees from Haiphong, in the communist-controlled northern half of newly-partitioned Indochina, to Saigon, in the pro-western southern portion. During non-deployment periods, Telfair conducted west coast operations and leave and upkeep periods in California ports.
On 29 February 1958, Telfair was decommissioned once more and laid up with the National Defense Reserve Fleet.
A little over two years later, it appeared that her naval career was at an end once and for all. On 1 July 1960, Telfair was transferred to the Maritime Administration (MARAD), and her name was struck from the Navy List. However, the Navy reacquired her on 24 August 1961, and her name was reinstated on the Navy List on 1 September. She was placed in commission for the third time on 22 November 1961, Captain E. M. Higgins in command.
Telfair‘s new seven-year lease on life took her to new oceans and new ports of call for, immediately following training off San Diego, she headed for duty with the Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet. She transited the Panama Canal on 1 February 1962, and arrived in her new home port, Norfolk, Virginia, on 6 February. From then until final decommissioning in 1968, she alternated cruises to the Mediterranean as a unit of the 6th Fleet with operations in the western Atlantic as a unit of the 2nd Fleet.
On her Mediterranean cruises, she joined other units of the 6th Fleet in bi-national and multinational amphibious exercises. She was also on hand in Greek waters in April 1967, as part of the back-up force protecting American lives and property during the takeover by the military junta in Athens. When assigned to the 2d Fleet, Telfair operated from Norfolk and cruised the Atlantic seaboard, in the Caribbean and in the Gulf of Mexico. She was normally engaged in amphibious exercises with Marines from Camp Lejeune, though she also conducted summer training cruises for midshipmen of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.
In October 1964, she participated in Operation Steel Pike the largest peacetime amphibious landing exercise in history. She landed in Huelva, Spain, with 84 naval ships and 28,000 marines. Afterwards she stopped for liberty at Funchal, on the island of Madeira and then Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.
On 31 October 1968, Telfair was decommissioned for the third and final time at the Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Little Creek, Virginia. On the following day, her name was struck from the Navy List. On 26 June 1969, she was transferred to MARAD once more, this time for simultaneous transfer to her purchaser, the Boston Metals Company, of Baltimore, Maryland. She was sold for $103,600.66, and withdrawn from the fleet 14 July 1969.
Telfair earned one battle starsfor World War II and three battle stars during the Korean War.