The U.S.S. New Kent (APA 217)
A Short History
31 December 1945

The U.S.S. New Kent (APA 217) was built at Richmond, California. The keel was laid on 11 July 1944 and the ship was launched 12 October 1944. The ship was subsequently commissioned on 22 November 1944.

The New Kent was outfitted at Naval Supply Depot, Oakland, California. The ship remained in the San Francisco Bay area until 8 December 1944 at which time she left the area, proceeding to San Pedro and later San Diego where she completed a shakedown period and engaged in amphibious training.

On 20 January 1945 the New Kent left San Diego with the January Replacements for the Fourth Marine Aircraft Wind and cargo aboard destined for Majuro and Kwajalein, Marshall Islands, arriving at Pearl Harbor, T.H. 26 January. On 30 January the ship sailed for Majuro escorted by the PO-825. Enroute, the escort in attempting to regain proper station, rammed the New Kent amidships sustaining severe damage to herself but was able to proceed under her own power to Pearl Harbor. The New Kent proceeded to Majuro arriving 6 February and left 7 February arriving at Kwajalein 8 February. Leaving Kwajalein 10 February, the ship arrived at Guadalcanal on 13 February.

From this time until 15 March the ship was engaged in combat loading troops and equipment of the Third Battalion, First Regiment of the First Marine Division and in rehearsal exercises in the Guadalcanal-Russell Islands area preparing for the Okinawa operation. After leaving this area and stopping onroute at Ulithi, the ship arrived off the western beaches of Okinawa the morning of 1 April and remained until 7 April when the New Kent proceeded in convoy to Pearl Harbor, stopping onroute at Guam and arriving at Pearl Harbor on 23 April. The ship then engaged in amphibious training exercises off [Hawaii and] in air-submarine exercises off Nihoa until 29 May at which time she loaded and sailed for San Francisco arriving there on 4 June.

Subsequently the ship sailed for Seattle, Washington, arriving on 8 June and was berthed at Lake Washington Shipyards, Houghton, Washington. Because of a strike in the yards, little work was accomplished and the ship was moved to P.S.N.Y., Bremerton, Washington.

After necessary repairs the ship proceeded to Seattle to load general cargo and Army Casual Troops destined for Honolulu, T.H., leaving there 26 June and arriving at Honolulu 3 July. The ship sailed for San Francisco 5 July with 300 Japanese prisoners of war and Army and Navy casuals arriving in San Francisco 11 July.

On 28 July the New Kent sailed for Leyte and Manila, P.I. with Army casual troops and cargo, stopping enroute at Eniwetok and Ulithi and arrived at Leyte 17 August. On 23 August she sailed for Manila arriving there 25 August and on the 29th the ship proceeded to Subic Bay, returning the same day.

On 9 September the New Kent in convoy sailed from Manila for Lingayen Gulf and arrived at Aringay Point, Lingayen Gulf on 10 September. During the period 10 September to 16 September, the ship was combat loaded with troops and equipment of the 3rd Battalion, 136th Regiment, 33rd Infantry Division, 6th Army and attached units and engaged in rehearsal and training exercises in connection with the forthcoming operation at Wakayama, Honshu, Japan.

The New Kent, in company with other transports, left Lingayen on 20 September for Wakayama, Japan, arriving the early morning of 25 September. The ship completed itÝs operation on 26 September, leaving the area and arrived at Subic Bay 1 October, departed the same day and arrived at Leyte 3 October.

The New Kent departed Leyte on 7 October and arrived in Davao Gulf on the following day. She moved to Talomo Bay, Davao Gulf, the following day and departed 15 October, having embarked the 2nd Battalion, 21st Infantry RCT and attached units bound for Okayama, Japan. The convoy arrived off Hiro-wan, Japan on 21 October, troop and cargo being discharged during the next two days. During the week spend at Japan, sightseeing parties from the ship visited the nearby large Japanese naval base at Kure as well as the site where the first atomic bomb was dropped at Hiroshima.

The New Kent together with the U.S.S. SIBLEY (APA 206) sailed on 28 October for Manus, Admiralty Islands, arriving at destination on 3 November. After loading 2,000 passengers, the ship sailed for San Pedro, California on itÝs first ýMagic Carpetţ trip. Enroute destination was changed to San Diego, California, at which port the ship arrived 19 November.

On 26 November, Commander C. F. Swanson, USN, relieved Commander J.E. Baker, USNR, as commanding officer. The New Kent sailed from San Diego on 5 December for Guam, Marianas Islands to make itÝs second ýMagic Carpetţ run. Destination was again changed to Saipan, Marianas Islands, at chich port the ship docked 21 December. After loading 1,980 passengers, the ship sailed for San Pedro, California, destination later changed to San Francisco, on which cruise the ship is presently engaged. Christmas and New YearÝs were celebrated aboard ship with special programs for all hands including Roman Catholic mass, Christmas carols, Christmas gifts distributed by Santa Claus, and a turkey dinner.

Since the ship has been commissioned, she was underway on 228 days and during this period steamed a total of 195 days, 5 hours or 58,733 miles. At the present time, the senior officers of the ship are as follows:

C. F. Swanson
Captain, U.S. Navy
Commanding, U.S.S. New Kent