History of the USS Saginaw

Named after the county seat of Saginaw County, Michigan, she is the second U.S. Naval Ship to bear the name. The first Saginaw was a 153 ton side-wheel steamer that saw service in the latter 19th century. Launched in 1859, the original Saginaw was the first U.S. Navy ship to be constructed on the west coast. She was destroyed on December 19, 1870 near Midway Island.

The USS Saginaw is one of the 1179 Class Tank Landing Ships designed to replace post World War II LST's. Saginaw was launched on the 7th of February 1970 and commissioned on the 23rd of January 1971 at Long Beach, California. After the completion of shakedown training, Saginaw entered the Atlantic fleet on 18 August, 19711 as a unit of COMPHIBLANT.

Since commissioning, Saginaw has been involved in routine amphibious operations and deployments, including repeat service as part of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, as a unit of task force sixty one, and various Caribbean deployments. Missions of particular interest in Saginaw's history include her assignment to the Apollo 17 Moon Mission in 1972 and contingency evacuation operations on the coast of Cyprus in 1974. In the fall of 1977, Saginaw excorted the damaged submarine USS Ray back to CONUS after participation in Excercise Display Determination, a major NATO Amphibious exercise in the Medeterranean, returning to the US in 1978.

In January 1979, Saginaw deployed to the Caribbean for operations with the Amphibious Squadron Four. In June of the same year, she participated in the inter-fleet transfer of USS Pegasus (PHM-1); escorting USS Pegasus from Rodman, Canal Zone to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Saginaw deployed to the US Sixth Fleet in September, 1979 with Amphibious Squadron Four and returned to the US in February 1980.

In May, 1980, Saginaw participated in Solid Shield. On her way home she was diverted to the Florida Straits to take part in Cuban Refugee Operations, rescuing some 300 people. Also in 1980 Saginaw participated in Readex 2-80 and NATO exercise Teamwork 80.

On 24 June, 800 civilians were evacuated from Juniyah, Lebanon by MARG 2-82 ships. On 28 August and 29 September, Saginaw entereed Beirut harbor to provide vehicles and personnel for the Multi-National Force. For her participation in Lebanese operations Saginaw received three awards: the Navy Unit Commendation, the Navy Expeditionary Medal, and the Humanitarian Service Medal.

In early 1983, Saginaw participated in Cold Winter 83. The latterr part of 1983 found Saginaw busy preparing for her first Operational Propulsion Plant Examination (OPPE) as well as participation in Readex 2-83. In February 19984, Saginaw departed Little Creek for a seven month deployment with MARG 2-84 and Teamwork 84. Thesee exercises began with a 30 plus ship ocean transit and endedd with a mock-up reinforcement of NATO forces in Norway. On April 1984, Saginaw arrived in the Mediterranean and found herself again involved in operations off the Lebanese coast. The remaining four months of the cruise were spent providing security for the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

1985 proved to be a busy year for Saginaw. Prior to a June deployment, Saginaw underwent an Operational Propulsion Plant Examination, Amphibious Refresher Training, and participated in Operation Solid Shield 85. On 14 Junee, Saginaw commenced the six month UNITAS XXVI / WATCC 85 deployment, making port calls through South America and West Africa. Saginaw arrived home in December, and commenced a much needed drydocking and Phased Maintenancee Availability in January.

During September 1986, the ship underwent a highly successful INSURV. October saw the ship undergo Intermediate Refresher Training in GTMO where an OPPEE certification was achieved. After GTMO, Saginaw completed a successful Amphibious Refresher Training. It was during AMPHIBREFTRE that she received the highest grades by an LST ever recorded.

In late spring of 1987, Saginaw again deployed to the 6th and 7th fleets with MARG 3-87. Steering in both the Mediterranen Sea and Indian Ocean, Saginaw participated in in amphibious exercise Eastern Wind 87 and Bright Star 87. Ports visited included Mombassa, Kenya; Alexandria Egypt; and Naples, Italy. During this cruise, Saginaw suffered a main space fire in engine room #1 (Main Control). Saginaw returned to Little Creek, and entered Jonathan Shipyards for extensive repairs.

In 1988, Saginaw participated in Teamwork 88 with NATO forces. Following the exercise Saginaw conducted a port visit in Ronne, Denmark on the island of Bornholm. Saginaw was the 1st U.S. Naval ship to visit Bornholm in 26 years.

Saginaw finished 1988 at Jonathan Shipyards in a Phased Maintenance Availability. Following PMA, Saginaw began an extensive work-up schedule to prepare for her fall Mediterranean deployment as part of MARG 1-90. This included a Damage Control Training deployment to Guantanimo Bay, Cuba, followed by an OPPEE in which Saginaw earned a "clean sweep". The MARG 1-90 deployment included many Joint Amphibious Exercises. Saginaw participated in exercises with troops from the countries of Spain, Tunisia, France, and Egypt.

In 1990, Saginaw completed a successful Supply Management Inspection, Operational Propulsion Plant Examination, and INSURV inspection, before seeing duty in both Operation Desert Shield, and Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf. In September of 1990, Saginaw left Little Creek, Va. en route to the Persian Gulf, and entered the Gulf area on 14 Sept, as part of the amphibious force in the area. During her stay, she visited ports in Oman, and the United Arab Emerates before the commencement of the ground war. During the hostilities, Saginaw participated in several practice landings just south of Kuwait City, Kuwait.

Saginaw left the Persian Gulf after cessation of hostilities on March 24, 1991. After which , she entered dry-dock for much needed repairs.

In the spring of 1991, it was decided that most of the U.S. LSTs were no longer needed by the Navy, and were to be decommissioned and sold to other countries. The U.S.S. Saginaw was decommissioned and sold to Austrailia in 1994, and was rebuilt into an Anphibious Landing Platform. She reentered service early in 2000 as part of the Royal Austrailian Navy under the name HMAS Kanimbla.

On November 24, 2011, the HMAS Kanimbla was decommissioned by the Royal Austrailian Navy, citing the physical condition of the ship and her age.

Previous Commanding Officers
Commander Charles Luck 1992 - 1994
Commander Paul K. Kessler, Jr 1990 - 1992
Commander John F. Howard 1988 - 1990
Commander Tematio E. Bugarin 1986 - 1988
Commander P. M. Fagan 1984 - 1986
Commander K. H. Johnson 1982 - 1984
Commander T. P. McGuire 1980 - 1982
Commander R. M. Brierley 1978 - 1980
Commander R. A. Harris 1976 - 1978
Commander B. C. McLaughlin 1974 - 1976
Commander D. W. Moore 1972 - 1974
Commander G. P. Brown 1971 - 1972

Portions taken from the Ships Change of Command booklet, 1990
Copyright (C) 1990, US Navy


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