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The USS Boone County, originally LST-389, was a tank landing ship that served the U.S. Navy in the European Theater during World War II. It was renamed the USS Boone County on July 1, 1955, in honor of counties of that name in eight states, including Arkansas.
LST-389 was one of a class of vessels—called Landing Ship, Tank—created to carry tanks, wheeled and tracked vehicles, artillery, construction equipment, and supplies during military operations along coastal areas. Called “Large Slow Targets” by their crews, they were designed as shallow-draft vessels; when loaded with a 500-ton cargo, LST-389 drew just under four feet at the bow and just under ten feet at the stern. These ships carried pontoons amidships that could be used to create causeways when they had to debark their cargos from deeper water, but they were capable of dropping their forward ramps directly onto a beach.
LST-389’s keel was laid down by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company at Newport News, Virginia, on June 20, 1942. It was launched on September 28, 1942, after being christened by Clara Elizabeth Ashe, and was commissioned on November 24 of that year under the command of Lieutenant George C. Carpenter.
The vessel weighed 1,625 tons, was 328 feet long and fifty feet wide, and could achieve speeds of up to 11.6 knots. It was armed with two twin 40-mm gun mounts, four single 40-mm gun mounts, and twelve single 20-mm gun mounts, which were used primarily to protect against air attack. LST-389 could carry a crew of thirteen officers and 104 enlisted men in addition to sixteen officers and 147 enlisted men as passengers.
LST-389 was assigned to the European Theater and participated in the occupation of Sicily in July 1943, the landings at Salerno in September 1943, and the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. At some point, it was beached after hitting a sunken ship in Cherbourg harbor and then towed to England for repairs. In addition to Lieutenant Carpenter, LST-389 was commanded by Lieutenant Robert D. Bock from February 1943 to February 1944, then Lieutenant William E. Orr until August 8, 1945, and finally by Lieutenant Braman Gibbs until March 12, 1946. It earned three battle stars during World War II.
LST-389 was decommissioned on March 12, 1946. It was designated the USS Boone County on July 1, 1955, and struck from the navy list on June 1, 1959. It was transferred to Greece as grant aid in May 1960, where it served the Royal Hellenic Navy as Lesbos (L-172).
For additional information:
“LST 389.” Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Naval History and Heritage Command. https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/l/lst-389.html (accessed June 13, 2018).
Rottman, Gordon L. Landing Ship, Tank (LST) 1942–2002. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing Co., 2005.
“USS Boone County (LST-389).” NavSource Online. http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/16/160389.htm (accessed June 13, 2018).
Mark K. Christ
Little Rock, Arkansas
Last Updated 6/13/2018
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