Bristol County (LST-1198) was named after counties in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She was laid down on 13 February 1971 at San Diego, California, by the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company; launched on 4 December 1971; sponsored by Mrs. Robert Lee Town-send; and commissioned on 5 August 1972, Comdr. Donald L. Waggoner in command.
Following commissioning, Bristol County was assigned to the Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, with the home port of Long Beach. In the years that followed, the tank landing ship alternated amphibious training operations off the west coast of the United States with periodic, sustained deployments to the western Pacific. She maintained this cycle into 1980.