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USS Duluth (LPD-6)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

USS Duluth (LPD-6), an Austin class amphibious transport dock, is the second ship of the United States Navy named for the city in Minnesota.

Duluth was laid down on 18 December 1963 by the New York Naval Shipyard. She was launched on 14 August 1965 and commissioned on 18 December 1965. She was the last ship to be launched from the Brooklyn Navy Yard before it was closed.



The ship sailed to Danang, Republic of Vietnam, in May 1965 to operate with Amphibious Ready Group, U.S. 7th Fleet in the Vietnam War. On 15 June 1966, a Sikorsky H-34 from HC-4 made the first helicopter landing on board.

In 1967, from the months of May until November the Duluth operated with Amphibious Ready Group, Seventh Fleet, in South China Sea. Conducted amphibious landing operations Bear Claw and Beacon Guide at Hue (7 June), Chu Lai (12 June), Cue Viet (3, 27 July), and Phu Loc (21 July). Took part in Operations Beacon Gate at Song Cua Dai and Chu Lai (7 August–16 August) and Beacon Point off Thua Thien province. The LPD then steamed off Quang Nam and Quang Tin provinces during Operation Ballistic Charge (16 September–28 September). After refitting at Subic Bay, Duluth participated in helicopter-centered Operation Bastion Hill near Cua Viet (10 October–1 November). Following vehicle ferry operations from Subic early in the month, the LPD steamed to Hong Kong, arriving there 17 November.

Underway for a WestPac cruise on 1 May 1970, Duluth loaded BLT 1/9 at Okinawa for transfer to Subic Bay at the end of the month. She then made several cargo lifts to Danang or to Yankee Station, delivering an H-3 helicopter to America (CVA-66), spare parts, and carried YFU-52 back to Subic Bay before steaming to Sasebo, Japan, for rest and recreation 3 July–15 July. Returning to Subic on the 19th, she spent the next three months conducting amphibious training and logistics operations from Subic to Danang and Vung Tau. In mid-October, Duluth embarked 140 Philippine marines for a joint exercise near Manila, but disaster recovery efforts in the wake of Typhoon Joan forced a cancellation of the operation. Arriving in Lagoney Gulf on 22 October, Duluth operated as a fuel stop and ready deck ship for helicopters during three days of relief operations in a swath of devastated barrios and villages 80 by 20 miles (32 km) wide and including the cities of Virac and Naga. Following another month of logistics support out of Subic Bay, Duluth steamed for home, reaching San Diego on 10 December.


After a restricted availability to repair a damaged rotor blade in her port turbine, Duluth sailed for another WestPac deployment on 1 October 1971. The ship loaded elements of BLT 2/4 at Okinawa on 18 October before resuming Danang logistics support operations out of Subic Bay. The LPD delivered vehicles, equipment and humanitarian supplies to Danang and embarked deck cargo and damaged PTFs for return to Subic. The LPD remained there until through the winter, conducting the occasional amphibious exercise in the Philippines and transporting troops and supplies between Subic Bay and Buckner Bay. On 1 April, following the outbreak of the North Vietnamese “Easter Offensive,” Duluth sailed to a holding station off South Vietnam to await developments. With the North Vietnamese offensive blunted by the end of the month, the LPD steamed to Subic Bay for rest and relaxation, 8 May–21 May. Returning to Vietnam, Duluth embarked 300 South Vietnamese marines at Tan My and landed them at Quang Tri on the 24th, during which operation Duluth took desultory enemy fire from a shore battery. The LPD conducted a similar mission in early July, when Marine helicopters deployed South Vietnamese marines during Operation Lam-Son 72, before sailing for home on 14 July and arriving in San Diego on 4 August 1972.

On 28 March 1975, Duluth got underway for a WestPac deployment via Pearl Harbor, Okinawa and Subic Bay. Arriving off Vung Tau on 21 April, Duluth participated in the evacuation of almost 9,000 people from Saigon; 1,373 Americans and 6,422 of other nationalities, mostly South Vietnamese. On 29 April, fourteen landings by South Vietnamese, Marine and Air America helicopters deliver over 900 refugees to Duluth alone, including the Italian ambassador. The refugees were later transferred to USNS Sgt. Truman Kimbro (T-AK-254). The following day another 1,391 refugees arrived, forcing Duluth’s crew to jettison three RVN helicopters over the side to make room for the arriving H-53 helicopters. The ship then steamed to Subic Bay and disembarked the refugees on 5 May. Over the next four days, working parties of volunteers reported to Grande Island to assist and process refugees. The LPD remained at Subic through the end of the month for cleaning ship.


In September and October 1983 Duluth served in support of the multi-national peace keeping mission to Beirut, Lebanon.


In August 1989, Duluth sailed to Prince William Sound, Alaska, for oil spill decontamination operations with HMM-268 embarked. Duluth housed clean-up crews, provided medical and weather forecasting services and supported decontamination barge efforts.

Duluth was underway 21 January 1994 for WestPac operations. Arrived in Singapore 14 February and assigned to TG 76.5 for duty off the coast of Somalia. The ship remained in Singapore for six days before getting underway for the Indian Ocean and arriving off Mogadishu on 3 March to assist in the evacuation of American forces from Somalia. She remained there, other than a short trip to Melindi, Kenya, until 24 April when the LPD steamed to Mombassa. Duluth then steamed off Kipini, Kenya, holding for possible contingency operations owing to the civil war in Rwanda, until 4 June when she sailed for Fremantle, Australia. Following a five-day port visit, the LPD returned to San Diego via Pearl Harbor, arriving home on 21 July.


Commander Donald S. Inbody assumed command of Duluth at 1430 on 21 May 1996 in a ceremony on the flight deck while underway in the Sea of Thailand en route Singapore. Commodore Frank Gallic (Commander, Amphibious Squadron Three) spoke. Colonel John Garrett (13th Marine Expeditionary Unit), LtCol Bill Johnson (MEU Service Support Group 13), CDR Lee Touchberry (USS RUSHMORE), and other Commanding Officers and Officers in Charge from within the Amphibious Ready Group were present.

During the deployment, Duluth participated with the other ships of COMPHIBRON Three and 13th MEU in a highly classified operation to capture Imad Mughniyah. This plan, Operation Return Ox, set sail at 1730C from Bahrain on 23 July 1996 to intercept the Motor Vessel Ibn Tufail, a Pakistani ship on which it was believed Mughniyah was embarked. On 24 July, after all ships were at sea and Navy SEALS had already begun shadowing the Pakistani ship, it was canceled. Operators were told that the White House canceled the interception when they could not be given 100% assurance that Mughniya was actually on board. (CNN interview with Colonel John Garrett, USMC (Ret), on 12 March 2002. Colonel Garrett was the Commander of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit which provided some of the force involved in the operation.)


Duluth was again underway 14 August 2000 for operations in the Indian Ocean as part of the Tarawa (LHA-1) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). Following stops at Pearl Harbor and Darwin, Australia, Duluth conducted three days of humanitarian assistance operations off East Timor (14 September–16 September) before a one-day stop at Singapore on the 21st. Moving into the Indian Ocean, the ARG stopped at Phuket, Thailand (28 September–1 October) before steaming on to the Seychelles, where they arrived 9 October. Three days later, Duluth received word that the USS Cole (DDG-67) had been bombed in harbor at Aden, Yemen, and the LPD quickly steamed north to Aden to provide small boat and helicopter operations in support of Cole. Following a short cruise north to Bahrain in late December, Duluth sailed east, arriving in San Diego on 14 February. While en route, the LPD stopped at Iwo Jima to launch amphibious vehicles in commemoration of the World War II battle.

Underway for Operation Iraqi Freedom on 6 January 2003, Duluth loaded elements of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and HMM-161 and sailed west. After a brief stop in Singapore on 29 January, the ships sailed into the Indian Ocean and arrived in the northern Persian Gulf on 10 February. The LPD operated at sea until 19 March when hostilities began in Iraq. The ship served as on-scene commander on 22 March when two helicopters from HMS Ark Royal (R07) collided in the vicinity of Duluth. After the initial surge of Marines ashore, Duluth's crew conducted boat operations in support of operations around Iraqi oil pipeline terminals. Departing the Persian Gulf on 27 May, the ship stopped at Cairns, Australia and Pearl Harbor before arriving home on 23 July.

While anchored at Guam on 28 December 2004, the LPD was ordered south for Operation Unified Assistance to aid victims of the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami. Duluth arrived off Sri Lanka on 9 January 2005 and her crew and embarked Marines cleared helicopter landing zones, removed debris and helped clean up two devastated elementary schools. During this deployment, Duluth delivered 210 tons of supplies to Sumatra and Sri Lanka.

The amphibious transport dock ship's last deployment ended in June 2005 after a six-month cruise to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Shortly after Duluth's final cruise, she was decommissioned at Naval Station San Diego in a ceremony on 28 September 2005 and LPD-6 was stripped from the national ship's registry. The ceremony featured the crew leaving the ship in ranks and the lowering of the national colors.

Duluth sat in San Diego for many months before being towed to the mothball fleet in Hawaii.


Duluth won many awards in its 39 years. The most recent was the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Award for supporting Coast Guard port security units during Operation Iraqi Freedom from March to May 2003. Two Coast Guard units, PSUs 311 and 313, were assigned to defend the MABOT and KAAOT gas oil platforms (GOPLATS) off the Iraqi coast after their seizure during the opening nights of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Duluth provided the Coast Guard detachments support by performing significant repairs to platform power sources, quality of life upgrades, command and control system repairs and improvements. More recently Duluth was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal for tsunami relief efforts in the Srilanka area.

Commanding Officers (date of command assumption)

CAPT Mark G. Tremaine (18 Dec 1965)

CAPT Arthur W. Price, Jr. (27 Aug 1966)

CAPT Marcellus T. Pitz (23 Jan 1968)

CAPT Roger E. Moore (9 June 1969)

CAPT John E. Mitchell (4 Oct 1970)

CAPT Allen E. Hill (6 Sep 1972)

CAPT William S. Whaley (4 May 1973)

CAPT Peter A. Carroll (16 Apr 1975)

CAPT Laurence H. Grimes, Jr. (13 Nov 1976)

CAPT Paul C. Matthews, Jr. (26 May 1978)

CAPT Dennis S. Strole (1 Jul 1980)

CAPT Peter F. Hedley (21 Dec 1981)

CAPT Kenneth R. Barry (3 Mar 1984)

CAPT Leonard F. Picotte (22 Feb 1986)

CAPT John I. "Jack" Dow (18 Feb 1988)

CAPT John C. McKinley (15 Aug 1989)

CAPT Terry E. Magee (6 Sep 1991)

CAPT Richard B. Ormsbee (19 Mar 1993)

CAPT Paul H. Stevens (2 Sep 1994)

CDR Donald S. Inbody (21 May 1996)

CDR Paul A. Cruz (19 Dec 1997)

CDR Glenn M. Brunner (17 Jun 1999)

CDR Shaun Gillilland (28 Feb 2001)

CDR Charles G. Emmert (12 Sep 2002)

CDR Larry D. Grippin (30 Mar 2004)


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