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Division of Naval History
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Navy Department


HISTORY OF USS BAYFIELD (APA 33) (EX AP 78)

The attack transport USS BAYFIELD is a conversion from a standard Maritime Commission C-3 hull, and was constructed by the Western Pipe and Steel Company at San Francisco, California, during 1942-43. The keel for USS BAYFIELD was laid on 14 November 1942 and she was launched on 15 February 1943.

USS BAYFIELD was acquired by the U. S. Navy on 30 June 1943 and was commissioned on 20 November 1943. She was named in honor of Bayfield County in the State of Wisconsin, and was sponsored by Mrs. J. E. Schmeltzer, manned by Coast Guard crew under command of Capt. Lyndon Spencer. The conversion to a naval auxiliary was accomplished by the Atlantic Basic IronWorks, Brooklyn, New York. USS BAYFIELD was placed in full commission by the Commandant, Navy Yard, New York as an APA (Attack Transport) and RAGC (Reserve Headquarters Communication Ship).

The physical characteristics of the attack transport BAYFIELD are those of a C-3 hull except for modifications of the superstructure incidental to conversion to a reserve headquarters communication ship.  Alterations within the ship provided berthing space for approximately 2000 men.


On 2 December 1943, USS BAYFIELD got underway from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Hampton Roads, Virginia. While enroute, structural test firing was carried out and general drills were conducted to familiarize the crew with their stations. During trials the ship was directed to the Navy Yard, Norfolk, for further alterations found necessary while undergoing the test. The cruise was completed in the Chesapeake Bay on 21 December.

USS BAYFIELD was assigned to Task Group 20.1 on 22 December for amphibious training. Exercises began on 5 January 1944, and upon successful completion of exercises, BAYFIELD was dry-docked at Norfolk for repairs. The work was completed in February 1944, and she was ordered to New York to load troops for overseas destination.

Having been assigned to the European Theater, USS BAYFIELD sailed in Convoy UT 8 for Glasgow, Scotland on 11 February 1944, arriving on the 22nd.


BAYFIELD next sailed to Portsmouth, England to await further orders. She arrived at Plymouth, England on 11 March, and on the 14 th, BAYFIELD sailed in convoy to Clyde, England to carry out landing exercises. She departed Clyde on 21 March enroute for Plymouth.

BAYFIELD received her first flag when Commander Force "U" (Rear Admiral D. P. Moon, USN) and his staff reported aboard on 29 March at Plymouth, England. From the time Commander Force "U" reported aboard until the first part of June, the ship was the headquarters for planning procedures in the Normandy Invasion. Short runs executing various maneuvers endorsers were conducted, and further alterations were made during the month of April 1944.


On 26 April, USS BAYFIELD proceeded to sea to carry out rehearsal exercises, which were completed on the 29th, and once again she anchored at Plymouth, England.

The Force was now organized and ready for operation. Troops composing the assault elements of the 4th Battalion, 8 th Infantry and 87th Chemical Battalion, Company C were embarked on May 7th and on 5 June, the ship was in convoy for Bay of the Seine to execute plans for the invasion of Normandy.

On the morning of 6 June, troops debarked bound for "Utah" Beach near Marie Dumont, France. For 19 days, USS BAYFIELD functioned as a supply and hospital ship in addition to carrying out her regularly assigned flagship duties. She returned to England on 25 June 1944.


After a short period for necessary repairs, she was assigned to Task Group 120-6, which was formed on 5 July and directed to sail for Oran, Algeria. The Task Group arrived in Oran on 10 July where the unit was dissolved. USS BAYFIELD proceeded to Naples, Italy 12 July, when she was reassigned to Convoy UGF 12.

Task Force 87 was organized upon arrival in Naples. Following the death of Admiral Moon, Rear Admiral Spencer Lewis, USN, assumed command of Task Force 87. Training exercises were held on 6 and 7 August to prepare Task Force 87 for the invasion of Southern France.

On 13 August, BAYFIELD steamed for the assault on the southern coast of France. In this assault, she debarked the Commanding General and troops of the 36th Division near St. Raphael on the morning of 15 August. Captain Rutledge B. Tompkins, USN, became Commander Task Force 87 on 29 August 1944.


Captain Lyndon Spencer was relieved as commanding officer on 5 September 1944 by Commander Gordon A. Littlefield, USCG, who in turn was relieved by Captain W. R. Richards, USCG on 27 September 1944.

Dry-docking, overhaul and repairs to BAYFIELD were accomplished in the Norfolk Navy Yard during the period of 28 September through 29 October 1944.

BAYFIELD was then assigned to duty in the Pacific. On 7 November 1944, she sailed for Panama and the Pacific in Task Unit 29.6.11, with Amphibious Group 7 and passengers for Pearl Harbor embarked. The Task Unit was dissolved at Cristobal, Canal Zone. On 27 November Amphibious Group 7 and other passengers were discharged and Commander Transport Squadron 15 (Commodore H. C. Flanagan, USN) and staff reported aboard, making USS BAYFIELD flagship of Transport Squadron FIFTEEN.
 
 

BAYFIELD departed Pearl Harbor on 6 December 1944, as flagship of Task Unit 13.10.16 on maneuvers which were conducted off the island of Maui. The ship moored at Honolulu on 9 December, where she embarked troops of the 2nd Battalion 390th Infantry,

U. S. Army on 11 December, and departed to continue amphibious exercises. These exercises were completed on 15 December, and BAYFIELD returned to Honolulu on the 16th to disembark troops and equipment.


On the morning of 1 January 1945, USS BAYFIELD sailed to Maui again from Pearl Harbor to load cargo and troops of the Fourth U. S. Marine Division who reported abroad on 2 and 3 January at Kahului Harbor. BAYFIELD returned to Pearl Harbor on 4 January. She conducted amphibious exercises at the island of Maui from 6 to 9 January, returning to Pearl Harbor.

USS BAYFIELD departed to carry out further amphibious training exercises on 12 January as flagship of Task Group 53.2. Upon completion of these exercises, she returned to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 18 January 1945.

The attack transport BAYFIELD sailed from Pearl Harbor on 28 January 1945 in Joint Expeditionary Force 51 (Vice Admiral R. K. Turner, USS ELDORADO), enroute to Iwo Jima via Eniwetok and Saipan, arriving at Saipan 11 February. Rehearsal exercises were conducted off Tinian on 12 and 13 February. The Force departed Saipan for Iwo Jima on 16 February, and on "D" Day (19 February) BAYFIELD anchored off Iwo Jima where she functioned as a hospital and prisoner of war ship as well as flagship for Task Group 53.2, and landed troops and equipment.


After rearming at Iwo Jima for 10 days, BAYFIELD sailed for Saipan on 1 March in Task Unit 51.29.2. The passengers, casualties of the 4th Marine Division and prisoners of war were discharged upon their arrival at Saipan on 4 March.

Supplies and equipment of the 2nd Marine Division were loaded on 6 and 7 March and BAYFIELD was underway on 11 March to participate in the rehearsal exercises in preparation for the invasion of Okinawa. She returned to Saipan on 19 March after the completion of exercises.

On 27 March, BAYFIELD was underway enroute to Okinawa with Task Unit 51.2.1. On Easter Morning, 1 April 1945, BAYFIELD arrived off the southeastern coast of Okinawa, unloading troops for a diversionary feint. They repeated this operation on 2 April. The period from 2 to 11 April was spent in retirement area awaiting orders.


The attack transport BAYFIELD then set course for Saipan on 11 April in Task Unit 51.2.2 with troops still on board. The task unit dissolved upon arrival at Saipan on 14 April. Troops were disembarked the same day, and the equipment of the 2nd Marine Division was unloaded on 17 May. From 14 April to 4 June, BAYFIELD remained in Sampan Harbor awaiting orders, during which time she was painted and routine repairs were made.

BAYFIELD got underway on 4 June in Task Unit 12.2.2 enroute to islands in the South Pacific for pool-up lifts. Neptunus Rex conducted appropriate ceremonies on 10 June upon crossing the Equator.

The task group arrived at Tulagi on 12 June and there the ships were ordered to various ports to load cargo.

BAYFIELD departed Tulgari for Espiritu Santos, New Hebrideson 15 June and arrived there on 17 June. After loading for the Marianas, she sailed on 1 July and arrived in Tinian on 19 July. After unloading cargo at Tinian, USS BAYFIELD proceeded to Saipan.

On 10 July, Commodore W. S. Popham, USN, relieved Commodore H. C. Flanagan, USN, Commander Transport Squadron FIFTEEN. More cargo was unloaded at Saipan and passengers were embarked. On 13 July BAYFIELD departed for Guam.

BAYFIELD loaded passengers on 16 July and departed Guam for San Francisco where she arrived on 30 July. Here she received dry-docking and routine maintenance work in preparation for the expected invasion of the Japanese home islands.

BAYFIELD sailed from San Francisco on 25 August to Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, for onward routing to Subic Bay to discharge passengers and cargo, and then proceeded to Samboanga, Philippine Islands.

She arrived at Eniwetok on 7 September and departed the following day for Tacloban, Leyte, P.I. She arrived at Loyte Gulf on 14 September, and after unloading passengers and cargo at Samar, reported to Commander Amphibious Group THREE, (Rear Admiral R. L. Conolly, USN) for duty in the occupation of Aomori, Japan. On 17 and 18 September, elements of the 81st Division and their equipment were loaded, and on the latter date, BAYFIELD departed in Task Force 34 (Rear Admiral R. L. Conolly, USN) for Aomori. The Force arrived in Aomori on 25 September and amphibious landings were carried out according to plans.

On 29 September, BAYFIELD sailed for Saipan in Task Unit 34.3.25 (Commodore W. S. Popham, USN). The task unit was dissolved on arrival in Saipan on 4 October and BAYFIELD reported for duty in the "Magic Carpet" Operation, returning personnel to the United States for separation.

BAYFIELD embarked a capacity load of passengers at Saipan and Tinian and departed Saipan 7 October for San Pedro, California, arriving on 20 October 1945. Here the passengers were unloaded, Commander Transport Squadron FIFTEEN and his staff were detached and the personnel of BAYFIELD reduced to a peacetime complement for continued service with the Pacific Fleet.


USS BAYFIELD earned four Battle Stars during World War II, two each on the European-African-Middle Eastern and Asiatic-Pacific Area Service Medals for the following operations:

1 Star/Invasion of Normandy including bombardment of Cherbourg 6 to25 June 1944

1 Star/Invasion of Southern France; 15 August to 25 September 1944

1 Star/Assault and Occupation of Iwo Jima; 19 February to 1 March 1945

1 Star/Assault and Occupation of Okinawa Gunto; 1 April to 7 April 1945

USS BAYFIELD earned two Occupation Service Medals for the following periods:

Navy Occupation Service Medal (Asia); 20-30 September 1945, 19-23 November 1945, 16-21 January 1945

China Service Medal (Extended); 21 July 1947 to 2 March 1948, 29 November 1948 to 30 March 1949

STATISTICS

OVERALL LENGTH 492 feet
 
 

BEAM 69 feet

SPEED 18 knots

DISPLACEMENT 11,760 tons

Compiled: December 1952

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