USS Rankin (AKA-103)
Home
Her History

Major events in the Rankin's history are shown below. We are slowly accumulating year-by-year details of cruises, ports visited, important happenings, etc. Click here to see what we've got.
Click Here to see  51 Years of AKAs, a brief history of the Attack Cargo Ship.
Summary
The USS Rankin was a commissioned warship for a total of 21 years and 5 months, during two time periods. The first began in early 1945 and lasted two years and three months. The second began in early 1952 and lasted nineteen years and two months. The ship was:

Laid down  31 October 1944 under Maritime Commission contract at North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. She was part of the country's massive buildup of ships for fighting World War II.

Launched  22 December 1944, a mere 52 days after her keel was laid.

Acquired by the Navy  25 January 1945, from the Maritime Commission and ferried to her conversion yard at Charleston, South Carolina.

Commissioned USS Rankin (AKA-103)  25 February 1945, at Charleston Navy Yard, Charleston, South Carolina, 115 days after her keel was laid.

Decommissioned  21 May 1947, at San Francisco, California, 27 months after her commissioning. Laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

The United States entered the Korean War on 27 June 1950.

Recommissioned  22 March 1952, at Todd Shipyard, Alameda, California, near San Francisco, 16 months before the final cease fire of the Korean War.

Redesignated (LKA-103)  1 January 1969.

Decommissioned  11 May 1971, at Little Creek, Virginia, after 19 years and two months of post-WWII service and 21 years and five months of commissioned service overall.

Struck from the Naval Register  1 January 1977. Returned to the Maritime Administration.

Sunk as an artificial reef  24 July 1988, six miles off Stuart, Florida, 32 years and two months after her keel was laid in the shipyard.

Details

Rankin (AKA-103), an attack cargo ship, was Laid Down on 31 October 1944 as Maritime Commission Hull 1702 by North Carolina Shipbuilding Co., Wilmington, North Carolina. The Maritime Commission ships were part of the country's massive buildup of cargo ships for the prosecution of World War II. Launched 22 December 1944. Acquired by the Navy 25 January 1945, and ferried to the Charleston, South Carolina, Navy Yard for conversion to an AKA. She was Commissioned 25 February 1945, LCDR Thomas D. Price in command.

Following an Atlantic shakedown, Rankin steamed 26 March 1945 in company with Tollberg (APD-103) for the Canal Zone. Joining the Pacific Fleet 1 April, she loaded Marine Corps replacement equipment at San Francisco and steamed independently for Hawaii 17 April. Intensive training in shipboard procedures and amphibious techniques followed. She then took on 5,000 tons of Army ammunition at Honolulu and, in company with Tolovana (AO-64), steamed on 25 May for Ulithi. Escorted by Enright (APD-66), the two ships immediately went on to deliver their vital cargoes at Okinawa. All ammunition was discharged between air raids.

Rankin departed Okinawa 28 June in convoy for Saipan. There she offloaded her boat group and then steamed independently for San Francisco, arriving 20 July. After taking on her allowance of landing craft, she put in at Seattle for repairs.

Hostilities ended during loading operations, her ammunition was discharged, and the ship sailed for the Philippines, arriving Manila on 9 September 1945.

Assigned to TransRon 20, Rankin steamed for Lingayen Gulf, The Philippines. En route, she touched at Subic Bay, contributed landing craft to the boat pool there, and then commenced taking on equipment of the 25th Army Division from the San Fabian beaches at Lingayen Gulf.

The squadron got underway for Japan 1 October. After riding at anchor for nearly 3 weeks while the approaches to Nagoya, southern Honshu, Japan, were cleared of mines, the squadron entered that port 27 October. Rankin embarked Navy personnel there, took on inoperable landing craft at Samar, The Philippines, and sailed for home, arriving San Francisco 25 November.

Rankin was Decommissioned 21 May 1947 at San Francisco and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

She was Recommissioned 22 March 1952 at the Todd Shipyard, Alameda, California, near San Francisco. Following shakedown, she transited the Panama Canal in August 1952 to join the Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet. She called in New York City in November 1952, following cold weather operations off Labrador the same month.

Operating out of Norfolk she commenced a lengthy second career of support for amphibious training operations along the east coast as well as in the Caribbean and Mediterranean seas.

On 18 July 1958, Rankin was part of the amphibious force which landed 5,000 U.S. Marines at Beirut, Lebanon, in response to a request from the Lebanese Government for assistance in averting civil war.

On 27 February 1959, Rankin departed Norfolk for a six month cruise to the Mediterranean as part of the United States SIXTH Fleet. A cruise book was published to commemorate this trip.

From 1959 onward, Rankin deployed periodically to the Caribbean with Amphibious Squadron Ten, a fast amphibious squadron with vertical envelopment capabilities. Operating regularly in the Caribbean, she repeatedly called at Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Haiti, Jamaica, and Guantanamo Bay.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis of October and November 1962, occasioned by the discovery of Russian intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Cuba, Rankin operated in the force which was marshalled in Cuban waters, prepared for any eventuality. For this service, she was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.

In January 1963, Rankin departed Norfolk with PhibRon 10 and various components of the 2nd Marine Battalion. In late February, the squadron visited Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, for the inauguration of President Juan Bosch, the country's first elected president. For this service, the Rankin received commendations from Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. She returned to Norfolk on 7 March.

In April, as a result of the unstable political situation in Haiti, the ship proceeded directly to a position off Haiti and patrolled in the Gulf of Gonave for thirty-one days until tensions eased. She subsequently had a yard period at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

Refresher training at Guantanamo Bay followed early in January 1964. Rankin next participated in exercise Steel Pike I off the Spanish coast 28 September through 3 December. Upon returning to Norfolk, she underwent a tender availability with Amphion (AR-13), after which she resumed coastal training and readiness operations, and deployments with the Caribbean Amphibious Ready Squadron.

During squadron exercises in April, 1965, Rankin participated in the Dominican Republic Intervention. Arriving off the coast of Santo Domingo, Rankin and other ships of PhibRon 10 commenced the mass embarkation and evacuation of over 1,000 refugees and U.S. civilian nationals. As a result of this operation, the Rankin and all her personnel were awarded the Navy Unit Commendation by the Secretary of the Navy.

In October 1966, Rankin was called on to render relief to the disaster area of Cayes-Jacmel Haiti, after Hurricane Inez caused massive damage to the island. The men of the Rankin unloaded tons of food, medical supplies, and building supplies to help the stricken people.

After her regular overhaul period in 1967, Rankin returned to operations in the Atlantic and Caribbean with Amphibious Squadron Ten. Deployed to the Caribbean from March to July 1968, she visited San Juan, Guantanamo Bay, Panama, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Aruba and Jamaica.

In August 1968, Rankin participated in exercise Riverine 68, which was designed to demonstrate to Marine and Naval Forces the latest methods of combating jungle warfare.

In November 1968, Rankin was reassigned to Amphibious Squadron Four. In December, she participated in the Apollo 8 Moon Orbital Flight as a secondary recovery ship in the U.S. Navy Recovery Force south of Bermuda.

Effective 1 January 1969, Rankin was Reclassified LKA-103, and deployed to the Caribbean for two months of intensive operations. She returned to Norfolk, and in late July, took on Marines and equipment and deployed to the Mediterranean, returning to Norfolk on 13 December. This cruise is commemorated by a cruise book.

The new year, 1970, brought with it a period of operations off the eastern seaboard and another July-to-December deployment, also commemorated by a cruise book, with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. Rankin returned to Little Creek, Virginia, on 14 December 1970.

After five months of preparation, Rankin was Decommissioned 11 May 1971, at Little Creek.

On 24 July, 1988, the ship was Sunk as an Artificial Reef, 6 miles off the coast of Stuart, Florida. She rests on her starboard side at a depth of 130 feet. The site is popular among fisherman and advanced SCUBA divers.

Adapted from Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Vol. VI (1976), pp. 34, USS Rankin cruise books, and other sources.

2/22/12

Home | Back to Top