U.S.S. Krishna (ARL-38)
Krishna was an Achelous-class landing craft repair ship. She was the only U.S. Navy ship named for the Hindu deity “Krishna”.
Krishna was laid down on February 23, 1945 by Chicago Bridge and Iron Co. and was originally built as an LST. Launched on May 25, she transferred under partial commission to Mobile, AL where she was converted to a repair ship.
Krishna commissioned on December 3, 1945, too late to see service in WWII. She transferred to the amphibious warfare base at Little Creek, VA on January 14, 1946. On May 25, 1951, she sailed to Greenland where she helped set up a large base at the town of Thule. In October 1964 she stood off the coast of Spain for Operation “Pike I”. This included the largest amphibious landing since WWII, a mock invasion staged for training purposes. On June 1, 1965, Krishna was transferred to the Pacific Fleet. U.S. involvement in Viet Nam had increased dramatically in past months, and the landing craft repair ships special talents were needed.
Krishna arrived off Viet Nam on September 17 and immediately began work with Coast Guard cutters and patrol vessels in the area. She served as a floating repair, resupply, and command station for a growing number of small craft, including PCFs (swift boats). In February 1967, she had the sad duty of recovering one of her charges. PCF-4, one of the first swift boats “in country”, had fallen prey to a crude but effective Viet Cong trap and was lost with heavy casualties. Krishna had to salvage the wreck to prevent VC soldiers from taking ammunition or supplies from her. The repair ship sent crew ashore on April 30 at An Thoi to help extinguish a fire in the town. She received then-Secretary of the Navy Paul Nitze on July 15.
Krishna felt the sting of war first hand on the night of July 5, 1970. She was anchored at Nam Can near the Cua Lon River. Lashed to her side were two swift boats, one of which was up on a barge undergoing repairs. At 2200, a Viet Cong swimmer placed a charge on her hull portside amidships. The blast tore a hole twenty-by-twenty feet wide in her hull, wrecking internal spaces and repair shops. The explosion also wrecked the barge that PCF-89 was aboard, and the swift boat was prematurely refloated as her barge sank beneath her. Krishna’s crew went into action immediately, making sure the swift boats were looked after and pumping the water out of their own vessel. Her own crew had the repair vessel back in action in just five weeks. She would spend the remainder of 1970 and 1971 off Viet Nam, continuing her vital work repairing and rearming river patrol craft.
As 1971 drew on, the U.S. began to prepare for its withdrawal from Viet Nam. Krishna’s boats and landing craft were being turned over to South Vietnamese sailors by the dozen, and her purpose in the Navy went with them. The ship had earned four Naval Unit Commendations, ten battle stars, and numerous other personal and unit awards, and her crew had served well above and beyond what was expected of them. Their last duty came on October 30, 1971, when Krishna was transferred to the Philippine Navy. Renamed Narra, she served until the 1990s. Her fate after this is unknown.
Risk of Asbestos Exposure
Krishna was a diesel-powered vessel, so asbestos insulation would not have been used as heavily in her construction as it was on steam-powered ships of her era. Asbestos may have been present in certain machinery, however, and it was used in the construction of fireproof suits as well.
Asbestos-based products give off tiny fibers when damaged or worn down. These fibers can spread quickly through a ship via her ventilation system and are easy for sailors and other workers to inhale. Asbestos inhalation is a proven cause of mesothelioma, a malignant lung cancer. While there is no cure for mesothelioma, the disease can be treated with common methods such as chemotherapy.
If you or someone you know served aboard Krishna or worked on her in a shipyard and has contracted mesothelioma, please fill out the form at the bottom of this page to receive free information regarding your rights to compensation.