USS Sylvania

REUNION GROUP
Our reunion group is open for
"All Hands" of the 
USS Sylvania from 1964 to 1994, including all helicopter groups - HC-6, Det. 97 and the WW II USS Sylvania (AKA-44).

  John D. Pierce
3093 Kissing Rock SE Lowell , MI 49331
Home Phone
(616) 897-5178
Cell Phone
(517) 927-3312

Other web pages of interest are:
www.navylink.com
www.military.com
www.MSL.com
www.wikipedia.com
www.askabout.com
www.bluejacket.com
www.navsource.org
www.youtube.com

The first Sylvania (AKA-44), ex-MG hull 1905, was laid down on 24 February, 1945 by the Walsh-Kaiser Co., Inc., Providence, R.I. ;launched on 25 April 1945; sponsored by Miss Mary H. O'Neil; delivered to the Navy and commissioned on 19 May 1945, Lt. Comdr. F.O. Bryce, USNR, in command. Sylvania completed fitting out and loading at Boston and sailed for Norfolk on 4 June to begin her shake down training. Training was completed on 15 June; and, six days later, the ship got underway for Marseilles, France. She arrived there on 3 July and, nine days later, was underway for the Philippines Islands.  The Panama Canal was transited on 27 July; and, after a port call at Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, the transport arrived at Manila on 26 August. The cargo and troops from France were off-loaded; and, until 19 September, vehicles, cargo, and troops were loaded which were destined for Japan.

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Sylvania and other ships of Transport Squadron 14 sortied from Manila on 20 September on route to Japan. She arrived at Wakayama, Honshu; on 25 September, unloaded, and began the return voyage to the Philippines the next day.  The cargo ship arrived at Subic Bay on 1 October and operated in the Philippines until 15 October when she sailed for Mitsugahama, Shikoku Island, Japan. She arrived there on the 21st and remained for a week prior to departing for Saipan, Mariana Islands. Sylvania arrived at Saipan on the last day of October and was assigned duty with the "Magic Carpet" fleet. She embarked 325 passengers on 1 November and sailed for California. She arrived at San Francisco on 14 November; discharged her passengers; and sailed for Samar, P.I., two weeks later. Her sailing orders were modified en route, and she was directed to proceed to Saipan. She remained at Saipan from 13 to 15 December when she stood out for California, arriving at Los Angeles-on 30 December 1945. Sylvania sailed for Bikini, Marshall Islands, on 19 February to participate in Operation "Cross Roads," (Atomic Bomb Tests) and operated between there and Pearl Harbor until 21 September when she returned to San Francisco. She moved up the coast to Seattle on 3 October and then to Bremerton. Sylvania was decommissioned at Bremerton on 17 December 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 7 February 1947.

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The story of Sylvania AKA 44 would not be complete without some comments: She was a special ship which had two engine rooms, two smoke stacks, and two propellers. She was built in just 90 days. Rumor has it that she was intended to be used after the war with Japan to go into islands where Japanese resistance would have to be taken care of.  The United States had to be prepared to invade Japan and they expected much resistance including 25,000 kamikaze, 5,000 midget submarines and a hostile population which would fight to the death as was the case at Okinawa.

** After leaving Panama on July 27th, the Captain opened secret orders and read
them to the officers and crew over the P.A. system. The orders read to proceed to
Manila and prepare for the invasion of Japan. While steaming toward Manila on August 6th, we picked up a news flash that an atomic bomb had been dropped on Japan. President Truman came on all stations and demanded that Japan surrender. This was repeated constantly in English and Japanese. It was about this time that the cruiser Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese sub. Then on August 9th the second bomb was dropped on Japan. On August 14th the Emperor of Japan indicated that Japan was going to surrender. On September 2nd, the formal surrender was signed. USS Sylvania continued on to Manila and made plans for the landing in Japan.
**Comments by USS Sylvania Officer Ed Schaaf.

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Because of the Atomic bombing of Japan, the Emperor of Japan surrendered unconditionally which stopped the war instantly and completely. The two Atomic Bombs cost numerous Japanese lives but in the long run it is believed that by the war stopping as it did, millions of lives (both American and Japanese) were saved. Sylvania was then put to an alternate use in the Atomic testing at Bikini where she and her crew helped move the Bikini population to safe areas. She and her crew laid buoys and markers for protection of other shipping. Her crew was used to deepen the channel to get the big target ships into the lagoon where the bombs were tested in July 1946. While in those test waters, Sylvania AKA 44 picked up radiation and for safety she had to be taken out of service. The tests proved to the world that atomic bombs are too dangerous to mankind to ever be used again. Since WWII, the United States and other countries that know of this danger have worked toward educating all nations of this danger. Because the United States was a benevolent conqueror which rebuilt Japan, 50 years after WWII, Japan is now a friend and ally and a peaceful and prosperous nation. Sylvania AKA-44 was kept in "mothballs" at Bremerton until 1964 and at that time was found to be cleaned of all radiation and she was then sold for scrap.