Landing Craft Administration Ship

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Battle Honours

Burma 1945

 

Specifications

Builder: New Jersey Shipbuilding Corp., Barber, New Jersey, United States

Draught:
Light, 3' ft 1½ in mean
Landing,  2 ft' 8 in forward, 4 ft 10 in aft
Loaded, 5 ft 4 in forward, 5 ft 11 in aft

Armament:
Five single 20mm Oerlikon guns, mounted in tubs, one bow mounted, one each port and starboard forward of wheelhouse, one each port and starboard aft of superstructure.

Propulsion:
Two General Motors Quad units (4 General Motors 6051 series 71 Diesel engines per unit), driving twin variable pitch propellers, 2,320shp, 1 Quad unit per shaft.

Speed: 16 Knots

Crew complement:
(LCI) 3 officers, 17 ratings
(LCQ) 2 officer, 23 ratings

Cargo Capacity:
(LCI) 9 officers and 200 troops, or 75 tons cargo 
(LCQ)  None?

Commanding Officers:
Not known


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H.M.L.C.Q. 491

 

LC(Q) 491- alongside LCI(L)-33, location and date unknown. Photo: NavSource

 

Early history

Ordered and delivered as a Landing Craft Infantry (Large) for the US Navy she was built by New Jersey Shipbuilding Corp., Barber, New Jersey. She was laid down September 24th 1943, launched October 27th 1943. She was an ‘LCI 351 class’ vessel, built to a revised design; the superstructure was enlarged and now occupied the full width of the ship, removing the main deck walkway access fore and aft. The original bridge, which formed the front of the superstructure, was replaced by a raised circular structure located roughly amidships on the superstructure. The defensive armament was reconfigured to reflect this new layout, and was increased to five 20mm guns, four were mounted on top of the superstructure in tubs at each corner, and one mounted on the bow..

She commissioned as the USS LCI(L)-491 on November 3rd 1943. On December 24th, 1943 she sailed from Norfolk, Virginia for the UK with U.S. LCI(L)s 487, 488, 489, 490, and 492. She was allocated to Flotilla 10, operated by the U.S. Coast Guard and was in Weymouth Harbour in early June 1944 from where she sailed to participated in the Normandy landings, 6th to 25th Jun, landing on Omaha Beach on sector “EASY Red”.

On November 18th 1944 she was decommissioned and was transferred to the Royal Navy under the lend-lease agreement, and Commissioned into the Royal Navy as HM LCI(L)-491 on the same date.


Conversion to an Administration Ship

She was one of twenty vessels that were converted to Landing Craft (Administration) vessels; all were ‘LCI 351 class’ vessels. The designation LCA already existed, so the suffix Q was chosen for the new classification. The conversion involved the creation of extra office spaces and additional single cabins were installed to accommodate staff officers. It is unclear when, or where, this conversion took place. But it was presumably done before she sailed for the Far East

 

Allocated to the East Indies Fleet

In early 1945 LCQ 491 was allocated for service with the amphibious assault force of the East Indies Fleet. After the D-Day landings plans were made to relocate large numbers of Major Landing Craft from the UK to the Eastern theatre under the code name ‘APPIAN’. Convoys of craft, referred to as ‘Flights’, sailed for India and Ceylon calling at Gibraltar, Oran, Malta, Port Said, Aden, and Bombay; the first Flight, ‘A’ sailed on November 15th 1944. It is not clear which flight LCQ 491 sailed with or when she arrived in India.

On reaching India she was most likely based at Bombay. No information is available about her activities until she was allocated to participate in operation ZIPPER in September 1945. for this operation she moved to Mandapam to join the assault force convoys assembling there.

Operation ZIPPER

After the Japanese surrender plans to accept the surrender of Singapore were put into action, originally this was part of Operation ZIPPER but political constraints meant that no landing could take place until after the signing of surrender in Tokyo on September 2nd, 1945. The delays meant that all plans were now to change; thus, the reoccupation of Malaya would take place in three phases. Phase one would be the recapture of Penang Island (Operation JURIST). Phase two would be the recapture of Singapore by the 5th Indian Division (Operation TIDERACE). Phase three would be the sea borne assault of North West Malaya in the Port Dickson, Port Swettenham area with landings near Morib with the 25th Indian Division and the 37th brigade of the 23rd Indian Division; this was a modified ZIPPER, carried out as planned and rehearsed, but the covering air and sea bombardment had been cancelled. The forces participating in these three operations were escorted by the Battleships NELSON, flying the flag of Admiral Walker, and RICHELIEU, the cruisers NIGERIA, CLEOPATRA, and CEYLON, with air cover from the 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron, comprising of ROYALIST (Commodore Oliver) and the escort carriers HUNTER, STALKER, ARCHER, KHEDIVE, EMPEROR and PURSUER, and fifteen destroyers,.

At 1200 hours on August 28th HM Ships NELSON, CEYLON, ATTACKER, HUNTER, TARTAR, PETARD, VOLAGE, PRINCESS BEATRIX and QUEEN EMMA arrived off Penang Island for Operation JURIST.

On September 1st the C-in-C East Indies Fleet, Admiral Sir Arthur Power transferred from CLEOPATRA to NELSON at George Town, the official surrender of Japanese forces on Penang Island was signed on the 2nd. At 08:00 the following day 400 Royal Marines under the command of Lt. Colonel G B Grant were landed from the LSIs PRINCESS BEATRIX and QUEEN EMMA. This was Force Roma, formed in July from the Marine Detachments aboard NELSON, CEYLON, NIGERIA and PHOEBE,
At 0500 hours on the 8th NELSON in company with the light cruisers CEYLON and NIGERIA, escorted by destroyers NUBIAN, PALADIN and RELENTLESS sailed from George Town to cover the ZIPPER assault convoys on route to their assembly point off Port Swettenham: they were to be joined by the escort carriers EMPEROR, HUNTER, KHEDIVE, and STALKER to provide air cover for the landings.

LCQ 381, 391 ande 491 sailed from Mandapam with convoy JMD1B on August 29th for Operation ZIPPER. LCH 101, 168 & 248 in company with LCI(L)s 115, 121, 127, 136, 183, 217, 256, 266, 277, 305, 311, sailed from Mandapam, India on August 31st in assault convoy JMD1C. Other convoys had sailed from Cochin, Madras, Vizagapatam, Calcutta, Chittagong and Rangoon. The ZIPPER assault convoys converged on the Malayan coast off Port Swettenham. Once assembled at first light on September 9th the ships of the assault convoys formed into two assault groups’ code named W 1 & W 2. Senior Officer' Assault Group W1 was aboard HMS NITH and that of W2 aboard HMS WAVENEY. On reaching the lowering point off Morib the Assault Group Senior Officers transferred to the LCHs, It is not clear which Landing Craft Headquarters were used by which assault group. The landings were not a success, numerous factors and mistakes made by the need to revise the plans several times resulted in stranded vehicles and ships; the beach survey was wrong, the sand was not suitable for heavy machinery which bogged down and blocked the beaches. The assault was actually an hour late in its execution, Force W was operating on Ceylon time, not Burma time so the expected high tide had in fact eturned. On September 12th a new beach was opened farther south, at Cape Rachado, where the 23rd Division landed without any of the difficulties met at Morib. By the time the beaches were closed, Morib on 25th and Cape Rachado on 28th September, 63,838 troops, 7,337 vehicles and 25,671 tons of stores had been landed over them.

HMS NELSON and much of the covering forces sailed for Singapore later on the 9th once the beach head had been establish, arriving there at 08:30  on the 10th. Operation TIDERACE forces had arrived in Singapore on September 4th 1945, meeting no opposition. By 1800, the Japanese had surrendered their forces on the island to Lieutenant-General Sir Philip Christison aboard HMS SUSSEX. The formal surrender was finalised on September 12th at Singapore City Hall. Over 90 vessels were present in Keppel Harbour and Singapore Roads at the time of the surrender. It is unclear where LCQ 491 went after her release from ZIPPER operations.


Post War

LCQ 491 was returned to US custody on March 14th 1946 at Manila, and struck from the U.S. Naval Register on April 26th 1946, and transferred to the State Department for disposal She was sold on June 9th 1948, fate unknown. It was noted by the US Naval party receiving her at manila that a plaque hung in the wardroom with the legend: "A" Squadron LCI(L) 251, 252, 253, Flotillas" and underneath is a list of the battle honours, "Tunisia, Panterreria, Lampedusa, Linosa, Sicily, Calabria, Salerno, Anzio, Dalmatia, Normandy."

Primary information sources


Additional sources
NavSource: Amphibious Photo Archive LCI(L)-491 entry
www.uboat.net index of British and American LCI(L)
navypedia.org RN AMPHIBIOUS SHIPS AND CRAFT
D-Day : The assault Allied Landing Craft and Ships  LCI(L)  '351 class' specifications
Combined Operations Staff Notebook (1945)  Accessed July 2015

 

Last modified: 04 August 2016