USS Zeilin (APA-3)

USS Zeilin (APA-3)

The USS Zeilin (APA-3) was a Harris class attack transport that saw service with the US Navy in World War II.

History

Commercial Service

The ship that would eventually be known as the USS Zeilin was constructed by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in Newport News Virginia as the Silver State under a U.S. Shipping Board contract. The Silver State was a member of the U.S. Shipping Board's 535-ft class, a combination passenger and cargo steamship with accommodations for 280 first class passengers and 194 third class.

'The SS Silver State operated between Seattle Washington and the Far East with the Admiral Orient Line a subsidiary of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. On 23 June 1922 the SS Silver State was renamed the SS President Jackson when the ship was purchased by the Dollar Line owned by Robert Dollar. In 1938 the SS President Jackson was transferred to the American President Lines.

Commissioning

Starting in 1937, the U.S. Navy studied converting the Dollar Line 535' Class ships to troop transports.

The SS President Jackson was acquired by the U.S. Navy in July 1940 and was renamed the Zeilinwith the designation AP-9 after Brigadier General Jacob Zeilin (July 16, 1806 - November 18, 1880) who was the first United States Marine Corps general.

The Todd Pacific Shipyards in Seattle Washington reconfigured the Zeilin as a troop transport. Commissioning occurred on 3 January 1942 with Captain Pat Buchanan USNR in command.

World War Two

Pacific Service

Samoa

After a shakedown cruise and training along the west coast of the United States, the Zeilin left San Diego on 13 April 1942 transporting troops to Samoa for garrison duty and returning to San Diego on 17 June 1942.

Solomon Islands

On 8 July 1942, the Zeilinagain departed San Diego and traveled via Pearl Harbor to Suva in Fiji. At Suva, Zeilin prepared for the invasion of the Solomon Islands.

Early on the morning of 7 August 1942, Zeilin arrived off Guadalcanal with Task Force 62. On 8 August 1942 U.S. Marines from the 3d Defense Battalion were landed by Zeilinon Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tanambogo. After completing disembarkation of the U.S. Marines, the Zeilin traveled to Noumea, New Caledonia.

For the next two months, the Zeilintraveled a route between Noumea; Espiritu Santo New Hebrides, and Wellington New Zealand. On 9 October 1942, the Zeilindeparted Noumea to carry troops and supplies to the Solomon Islands.

Arriving off Guadalcanal on 11 October 1942, the Zeilin began unloading at Lunga Point. On 13 October 1942, the Zeilin was attacked by a Japanese shore battery; but the ship did not receive any damage. The Zeilin returned to Noumea on 17 October 1942 and then proceeded to Espiritu Santo before returning to Lunga Point on 11 November 1942.

At 09:00, the task group received a report that nine carrier bombers and 12 fighters were approaching from the northwest and would reach their vicinity at about 09:30. At about 09:20, USS Atlanta (CL-51) led the Zeilin and two other auxiliaries to the north, in column, with destroyers spaced in a circle around them. Fifteen minutes later, nine Japanese Aichi D3A "Val" dive bombers from the Japanese aircraft carrier Hiyō emerged from the clouds over Henderson Field.

At 09:40 the Zeilin opened fire. The Japanese airplanes dove on the Zeilin and released bombs at 1,200 feet. One aircraft was set on fire by the Zeilin's guns There were three near misses registered on the ship; two on the port side - one about amidships, the other aft; and one on the starboard side at about frame 45 opposite No. 8 hatch, depth about 15-30 feet. The ship suffered severely from this bomb.

The number 8 hold was flooded to the third deck; number 7 to the fourth deck. The starboard shaft was carried away. The Zeilin took on approximately 2,000 tons of water. Examination by diver later disclosed cracked and ruptured hull plating as the cause of the flooding.

A second attack at 10:55 by 27 Mitsubishi G3M bombers was repulsed with anti-aircraft fire and fighter aircraft from Henderson Field.

Though damaged and listing, the Zeilin carried casualties to Espiritu Santo and then sailed via Tutuila, Samoa to San Pedro, California. The Zeilin arrived at the Terminal Island Naval Shipyard later known as the Long Beach Naval Shipyard on 22 December 1942 for repair. This repair work was completed in March 1943.

Aleutian Islands

On 17 April 1943, the Zeilin left San Diego California for the Aleutian Islands. After a six-day stop in San Francisco California, the Zeilin continued on and arrived at Cold Bay, Alaska on 1 May 1943.

Cold Bay was the rendezvous point for the Attu Island invasion force. By 11 May, 1943 the Zeilin was located off the south coast of Attu Island, at Massacre Bay. After the initial landings, the Zeilin remained off Attu Island until 16 May, 1943.

On 17 May 1943, the Zeilin stopped at Adak, Alaska before leaving on 22 May, 1943 and arriving at San Diego, California on 31 May, 1943.

In June and July 1943, the Zeilin operated along the west coast of the United States before returning to Adak, Alaska on 5 August 1943 to participate in the invasion of Kiska, Alaska.

The Zeilin left Adak, Alaska on 26 August 1943 arriving at San Diego, California on 2 September 1943.

Tarawa

The Zeilin traveled to Pearl Harbor Hawaii in mid September 1943. After a five day stay at Pearl Harbor Hawaii the Zeilin continued to Wellington New Zealand via Funafuti and Espiritu Santo arriving on 17 October 1943.

The ship remained at Wellington New Zealand before departing on 1 November 1943 and proceeding to Efate in the Vanuatu where the attack force concentrated and practiced for the invasion of Tarawa.

On 13 November 1943, the Zeilin departed Efate and arrived off Betio on 19 November 1943. Early the following morning, U.S. Marines from 2nd Battalion 2nd Marines were offloaded into landing craft from the Zeilin for their assault. During the unloading operation the Zeilin was under fire from Japanese shore guns. The ship did not sustain any damage from the attack.

Kwajalein Atoll
The Zeilin returned to Pearl Harbor Hawaii at the beginning of December 1943 to reload for the Marshall Islands operation leaving on 22 January 1944 with the Southern Attack Force.

The Zeilin arrived at Kwajalein Atoll on 31 January 1944. Unloading elements of the U.S. Army's 7th Infantry Division, the Zeilin departed on 2 February 1944 arriving at Funafuti, on 8 February 1944.

Southwest Pacific and the Solomon Islands

For the next three months, the Zeilin carried troops and supplies for units operating in the Solomon Islands and in New Guinea. During this time period the Zeilin visited Guadalcanal and Bougainville in the Solomon Islands, Espiritu Santo, Milne Bay and Cape Sudest on New Guinea, and the newly conquered Admiralty Islands. On 10 May 1944, the Zeilin returned to Guadalcanal to prepare for the invasion of the Mariana Islands.

Mariana Islands
Task Force 53 including the Zeilin departed the Solomon Islands on 4 June 1944 carrying U.S. Marines of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade. The Zeilin initially waited east of Guam during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Later the U.S. Marines on the Zeilin functioned as a floating reserve.

Leaving the Mariana Islands on 30 June 1944, the Zeilin arrived at the Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands on 3 July 1944. After 15 days, the Zeilin left Eniwetok Atoll and joined other transports carrying troops from Hawaii. The Zeilin arrived off Guam on 22 July, 1944 and unloaded the U.S. Marines over 4 days departing on 26 July 1944.

The Zeilin stopped overnight at Eniwetok Atoll again on 29 July 1944 before arriving at Pearl Harbor Hawaii on 7 August 1944. Then after 3 days at Pearl Harbor, the Zeilin departed for the west coast of the United States arriving at San Francisco California for a three month overhaul.

Southwest Pacific

On 21 October 1944, the Zeilin departed San Francisco California arriving at Finschhafen on the west coast of New Guinea on 6 November 1944. The Zeilin visited Langemak Bay and Hollandia (now known as Jayapura) before arriving at Noumea on 22 November 1944.

Philippine Islands

The Zeilin loaded elements of the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry Division at Noumea and departed for Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in December 1944. At Guadalcanal, the task group including the Zeilin conducted training exercises. The task group left Guadalcanal on 25 December 1944 arriving at Manus in the Admiralty Islands on 29 December 1944.

On 2 January 1945, the Zeilin left Manus and arrived off San Fabian Luzon in the Philippine Islands on 11 January, 1945. After offloading the Zeilin departed on 12 January 1945 in convoy.

The next morning, a single Japanese Kamikaze airplane attacked the convoy missing the amphibious command ship USS Mount Olympus (AGC-8) and striking the Zeilin. The right wing of the Japanese aircraft struck cargo loading equipment next to the number 6 cargo hatch. The fuselage of the airplane crashed into the starboard side of the housetop. Incendiary weapons carried by the aircraft exploded and started several fires on the ship. Topside damage to the Zeilin was extensive. The superstructure deck was destroyed, deck framing was damaged, and several staterooms were destroyed. The airplane's engine pierced the deck, the outboard bulkhead and landed in a landing craft carried by the Zeilin. Seven crew members were killed, three crew members were declared missing, and 30 crew members were injured. After the attack the Zeilin continued with the convoy and arrived at Leyte Island in the Philippine Islands. After receiving temporary repairs at Leyte, the Zeilin departed on 16 February 1945 arriving at Ulithi Atoll in the Caroline Islands on 18 February 1945.

Iwo Jima

The Zeilin traveled to Iwo Jima Island arriving on 9 March 1945 with reinforcements. On 16 March 1945 the Zeilin departed Iwo Jima arriving at Pearl Harbor Hawaii on 12 April 1945.

The Zeilin left Pearl Harbor on 17 April 1945 and arrived in San Francisco California on 23 April 1945.

Ulithi

Following two months of repairs in San Francisco, the Zeilin departed on 30 June 1945 arriving at San Diego California on 1 July 1945.

On 8 July 1945, the Zeilin departed San Diego arriving in Seattle Washington.

Departing from Seattle on 23 July 1945, the Zeilin arrived at Eniwetok Atoll on 4 August 1945. The Zeilin stayed until 7 August 1945 before moving on to Ulithi Atoll.

Post World War II Service

Philippine Islands and Korea

After hostilities ceased on 15 August 1945 the Zeilin departed Ulithi Atoll on 17 August 1945 arriving at Okinawa Island on 21 August 1945.

The Zeilin left Okinawa Island on 29 August 1945 bound for Leyte. During September 1945, the Zeilin transported cargo and passengers within the Philippine Islands.

In October 1945, the Zeilin was tasked to carry the U.S. Armys 106th Regimental Combat Team to occupation duty at Jinsen, Korea.

West Coast

Departing from Jinsen, Korea, the Zeilin made stops at Ulithi Atoll and Guam before arriving at San Francisco on 14 November 1945.

For the remainder of 1945 and through January 1946, the Zeilin traveled between San Diego, San Francisco, San Pedro, Bremerton Washington, and Seattle.

Decommissioning

On 4 February 1946, the Zeilin departed San Pedro and transitted the Panama Canal on 14 February 1946 before arriving on 21 February 1946 at Hampton Roads, Virginia.

The Zeilin was decommissioned at Portsmouth Virginia on 19 April 1946.

Disposal

The Zeilin was removed from the U.S. Navy list on 5 June 1946.

Zeilin was transferred to the United States Maritime Commission on 3 July 1946 for disposal. On 4 May 1948 the Zeilin was delivered to American Shipbreakers, Inc., for scrapping.

Awards

  • The Zeilin earned eight battle stars for her World War II service.

See also

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