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History of the USS Tallahatchie County


USS LST-1154
and the


The United State Navy, after building 1,152 Tank Landing Ships, (LST's), decided to increase the load carrying capacity and speed of the LST's.  The result was the LST Class 1153, which included LST 113 (The Talbot County named for Talbot County, Maryland and Talbot County, Georgia), and LST 1154 the Tallahatchie County, named for a county in Mississippi.  The ships displaced 6,000 tons, were 382 feet long, 54 feet wide, had a draft of 14'5" and carried two 5 guns and two twin 40mm anti-aircraft guns.  They were the only steam powered LST's ever built by the US Navy.


The keel of the LST-1154 was laid down on 4 August, 1945 at Boston MA, by the Boston Navy Yard, and the ship was launched on 19 July 1946, sponsored by Mrs. Wilder D. Baker; and she was commissioned on 24 May, 1949; LCDR James W. McBrier in command.


LST-1154 held her shakedown in the Caribbean and returned to Boston on 8 October 1949.  On 12 December, 1949 she was assigned as flagship for Tractor Flotilla Two.  Operating out of Little Creek, VA, her home port, the tank leading ship ranged the eastern seaboard from Labrador to ports in the Caribbean until mid-1958.  On 1 July 1955, the ship was named "TALLAHATCHIE COUNTY", after a county in Northwestern Mississippi by congressman Jamie Whitten.


On 1 August 1952, LST-1154 was assigned duty as flagship for LST Squadron Four, LTCDR R. L. Sanders in command.  On 12 May 1958, TALLAHATCHIE COUNTY stood out of Davisville, RI, and proceeded to the Mediterranean.  During a six month deployment, she visited ports in Spain, Crete, Malta, Greece, Gibraltar, Italy, and Morocco before returning the United States to resume East Coast operations.  The LST deployed to the sixth fleet again on 27 July 1959.  She returned to Davisville on 11 February 1960 and operated along the east coast until entering the Charleston Naval Shipyard for conversion into an advanced aviation base ship in December 1960.


On 3 February, 1962 the TALLAHATCHIE COUNTY was redesignated AVB-2, with CMDR Courtland T. Babcock in command.  She now had a complement of 265 and quarters for 180 men of an aircraft squadron.  Her mission was to be able to beach anywhere that an airfield existed, unload her 14 mobile support vans, and be operational in 4 hours.  The vans contained spare parts and equipment for weather forecasting, aircraft repairs, electronic repairs, and communications.


On 15 May, 1962 TALLAHATCHIE COUNTY got underway for the Mediterranean and arrived at Naples, Italy, her new home port on 8 June 1962.  One 25 June she relieved from duty the USS Alameda County AVB-1 (formerly USS LST-32) which was sold to the Italian navy was renamed ANTIO.


During the next 17 months, she conducted advanced aviation base maneuvers at Souda Bay, Crete, and Cagliari, Sardinia.  From 1 November to 15 December 1963, she made a 4800 mile cruise of the eastern Mediterranean in support of the naval Oceanographic Office.


During September 1964, she participated in an advanced aviation base exercise in conjunction with NATO operation FALLEX.  IN February 1965, the TALLAHATCHIE COUNTY was called upon to salvage a jet aircraft that had splashed into the waters off the coast of Libya.  She then returned to Naples to prepare for her longest advance aviation base operation to that time.  Patrol Squadron 24 operated from TALLAHATCHIE's advance base in Souda Bay from July through September while the runways at the Naval Air Facility, Sigonella, were being repaired.


During the summer of 1967 the TALLAHATCHIE COUNTY underwent and overhaul at the Socieata Escercizio Bocini Napoletani and then returned to operation in support of the Sixth Fleet.  On 9 February, 1968 the TALLAHATCHIE COUNTY responded to an SOS from the Portuguese freighter DIAS which was sinking off the coast of Spain; and rescued her captain and crew of seven.


TALLAHATCHIE COUNTY operated out of Naples until 15 January, 1970 when she was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list.  She was sold for scrap to Contieri Navali Santa Maria, Genoa, in July 1970.


With the decommissioning of USS TALLAHATCHIE COUNTY AVB-2 the Navy's concept of an advanced aviation base ship ended.

Compiled and edited by Ben Jones