U.S.S. Henrico (APA-45)

Henrico was a Bayfield-class attack transport. She served in WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam.

Construction

She was laid down at Pascagoula, MS on February 1, 1943. She commissioned on November 26.

Service

Henrico embarked U.S. Army troops at New York on February 3, 1944 and sailed for Scotland. Upon her arrival, she began training for the invasion of Normandy. She fired in anger for the first time on May 28 when she came under air attack in Portland, England. On D-Day, June 6, she landed troops at the “Easy Red” sector of Omaha beach. She then sailed for the Mediterranean and landed troops in the south of France on August 15.
Following repairs at Boston, Henrico sailed for the Pacific, arriving at Leyte in the Philippines in January 1945. There, she prepared for the invasion of Okinawa. On March 21, she landed troops at Okinawa. The transport stayed in the area to support the effort ashore. She was underway for Kerama Retto on April 2 when a “Francis” bomber rammed into her navigation bridge. The aircraft was carrying two bombs that detached and ripped through the ship before exploding. Fires and flooding followed, and Henrico fought for her life. She was taken in tow by Suffolk, and her damage was assessed. Her commanding officer and thirty-seven of her sailors were killed, as well as fourteen Army personnel.

Temporary repairs were affected at Kerama Retto, and she sailed under her own power for San Francisco. She arrived on May 13 and entered the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard. Repairs were completed in July, and Henrico returned to the Philippines. While there, she received news of Japan’s surrender. She mobilized in January 1946 for Magic Carpet operations, returning veteran servicemen to the United States. In June, she sailed to Bikini Atoll to participate in nuclear tests there. The transport remained in the western Pacific until September 1947, when she was overhauled at Long Beach.

On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded its democratic southern neighbor. South Korean forces were quickly pushed back to a perimeter around the coastal town of Pusan. Henrico sailed into action, bringing much-needed reinforcements on August 2. She then sailed for Inchon, participating in the historic landings there in September. She made landings at Wonsan on October 25 and returned with reinforcements on November 19.
With Chinese intervention, the tides of war changed and Henrico was called back to Korea for evacuations. She remained off Korea until the end of the conflict, transporting troops and supplies and pausing only briefly for maintenance. For the rest of the 1950s, she operated in the western Pacific, conducting routine deployments and exercises. On October 27, 1962, she deployed to the Caribbean with troops aboard as the Cuban Missile Crisis developed. She was on hand until December 6, when she returned to San Diego. Henrico sailed to Yokosuka, Japan on November 16, 1964 and began ferrying troops to Okinawa. She landed the first U.S. Combat troops in Viet Nam on March 8, 1965 at Da Nang, Chu Lai, and Hue. She sailed for San Diego on September 30 and spent the rest of 1965 operating from there.

Henrico returned to Viet Nam on August 21 and began ferrying troops between Da Nang and Okinawa. On December 29, she embarked South Vietnamese troops from Vung Tau and took them into the Mekong River Delta. On February 25, 1967, she took over as station support ship for River Flotilla One at Vung Tau. Henrico left Viet Nam for the last time on March 23. She operated from San Diego until November 13, when she headed to Puget Sound for deactivation.

Fate

Henrico was decommissioned on February 14, 1968. She sat in reserve there until October 1, 1979, when she was sold. Her current whereabouts are unknown.

Risk of Asbestos Exposure

During WWII, the U.S. Navy required that all of their steam-powered ships be insulated with asbestos to prevent fire. Henrico was steam-powered and would no doubt have been insulated heavily, particularly in her engineering spaces.

When damaged or worn, asbestos products break down into tiny fibers. The severe damage sustained at Okinawa would have exacerbated this problem. Inhalation of asbestos is a proven cause of mesothelioma, a malignant lung cancer. There is no cure for this disease, but treatments such as chemotherapy can be used to fight it.

If you or someone you know served aboard Henrico 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.

Resources/Further Reading

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