History

 

From the "Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships," (1969) Vol. 4, p.476, (1976) Vol. 6, p.643.

STOKES - A county in North Carolina named for Col. John Stokes, an officer during the American Revolution.

AKA-68, Displacement: 13,910 t. Length: 459'2", Beam: 63', Draft: 26'4", Speed: 16.5 k., Complement: 395, Armament: 1 5"; 8 40mm
Class: ARCTURUS (TOLLAND), Maritime Standard Type:C2-S-AJ3

STOKES (AKA-68), ex-MC hull 1394, was laid down on 26 June 1944 by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Co., Wilmington, N.C.; launched on 31 August 1944; sponsored by Mrs. W. D. Woodall; acquired by the Navy from the Maritime Commission on a loan-charter basis and commissioned on 12 October 1944, Lt. Comdr. G. W. Graber in command.

After a brief shakedown and yard availability period, STOKES loaded general cargo at Norfolk and sailed for the Pacific on 11 December. She transited the Panama Canal on 21 December 1944 and arrived at Pearl Harbor early in January 1945. The attack cargo ship was then assigned to Transport Division 48 which was preparing to participate in the assault against Iwo Jima. She moved to Hilo, Hawaii, loaded troops and equipment; and sailed with the division to the staging area in the Marianas. The ships stood out of Saipan on 16 February for Iwo Jima.

STOKES arrived off Iwo Jima on 19 February as the assault waves of marines landed on the beaches and, for the next two weeks, supplied them with rockets, ammunition, and gasoline. She then loaded combat casualties for evacuation to the base hospital at Saipan. After disembarking the wounded there, the ship moved to Guam to replace many of her small boats that had been lost or disabled at Iwo Jima.

STOKES then sailed to Espiritu Santo and loaded troops and equipment for the upcoming assault on the Ryukyus. Since her passengers were part of the floating reserve, the ship did not arrive at Okinawa until 10 April. On the 19th, STOKES proceeded, via Ulithi, Guam, and Pearl Harbor to the west coast of the United States. She called at San Francisco before moving up the coast to Seattle for loading. STOKES sailed for Iwo Jima and on to Okinawa.

After the war ended, the ship then operated between the Philippine Islands, Guam, and Japan until routed back to the west coast. She returned to Seattle in January 1946 and was routed to the east coast for inactivation and disposal. She arrived at Norfolk on 29 May and was decommissioned on 9 July. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 19 July 1946 and she was returned to the War Shipping Administration.

STOKES received two battle stars for World War II service.

Note: There appears to be a discrepancy in naval records as to the actual commissioning date. The USS Stokes Log Book shows commissioning at Wilmington on 12 October 1944. However, the first Muster Roll of the Crew is dated 4 November 1944 at Charleston, South Carolina. The National Archives and Records Administration cannot explain why the commissioning dates are different in each source.


Complement: Officers 62, Enlisted 333
Armament: one single 5"/38 dual purpose gun mount, four twin 40 mm gun mounts, sixteen single 20 mm gun mounts
Boats: 14 LCVP, 8 LCM
Cargo Capacity: 380,000 cu ft, (5,275 tons)
Propulsion: GE geared turbine drive, 1 propeller, 6,000 shp
Ship's Motto: "Lucky 68"

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons:

American Campaign Medal American Campaign Medal

Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal  Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (2)

World War II Victory Medal  World War II Victory Medal

Navy Occupation Service Medal Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia Clasp)

After World War II ended, the USS Stokes (AKA-68) was struck from the Naval Register on 19 July 1946 and returned to the War Shipping Administration for disposition. Sold for commercial service to Oceanic in 1947 and named Sierra #2; traded to Matson in 1961 and renamed Hawaiian Banker; sold to Sea-Land in 1961 and renamed Fanwood.

In 1971 the ship was scrapped in Taiwan.