Class of 1966 BA Political Science
I was commissioned in May 1966. My first ship assignment was to the USS Tortuga [LPD 26]. Prior to reporting I attended CIC school at point Loma CA and Amphibious Warfare school at Coronado CA. I served aboard the USS Tortuga from July 1966 to June 1968 as CIC Officer and Navigator.
The USS Tortuga was built in 1945. She had seen extensive in WestPac since that time, including the Korean War. She was 450 feet long, had a 15 foot draft, a well deck a, helo deck, and numerous small craft. Armament was 1x 5”/38; 2x twin 40mm; 2x quad 40mm; and 16x 20mm. Her crew was 15 officers and 225 enlisted.
During my time in Vietnam the USS Tortuga served as a base for PBRs in the Mekong Delta and as part of Amphibious Ready Group Bravo landing Marines in amphibious landings up and down the coast from Danang to the DMZ. At various time we were detached for duty with the 7th Fleet transporting critically needed equipment from Japan to forces in Vietnam. From Jan 1967- Mar 1967 we returned to CONUS for upkeep and refitting on the west coast.
When in harbors in Vietnam [Danang, Cua Viet, Vung Tau] there was a constant threat from enemy rocket attacks and “frogmen”. The USS Tortuga was a significant target.
In Sept 1969 I was released from active duty and then served in the Reserves till 1987 when I retired as a LtCdr.
USS Tortuga LPD 26
The black and white title bar photo shows amphibious vehicles leaving the Tortuga via the well deck. Ballast tanks were filled to flood partially submerge the ship’s stern. This flooded the well deck, facilitating amphibious exits.