The Mighty Midget

Operational History

After launching and commissioning at Commercial Iron Works in Portland Oregon, LCS(L)(3)-102 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater, under the command of Lt. Richard Jones, her skipper. Although World War II was in its final stages by then, LCS-102 arrived in time to participate in the Battle of Okinawa, taking part in the Gunto operation between 18 and 30 June 1945.

Radar Picket Duty in Okinawa
In Okinawa, LCS-102 was assigned to Radar Picket (RP) station number 18, located about 90 miles south of the island. She would serve as one of four LCS class ships protecting the actual picket ship (a destroyer), as it scanned for aircraft heading outbound from the island to the US Fleet. Should any outbound hostile aircraft be detected, the destroyer would alert the main fleet out in deeper waters of the impending attack.

Leyte Island and the end of World War II
Sometime following the invasion of Okinawa, the 102 was pulled off of the line and received orders to set sail for the Philippines. Along with several other LCS class ships, she arrived at Leyte Island shortly after a succesful invasion by Allied forces. There, the 102 and her sister ships participated in mine removal operations. World War II ended while she was stationed in the Philippines.

Occupation of Japan
From Leyte, LCS-102 ventured north to Sasebo, Japan. She arrived two months after Fat Man (the first atomic bomb), had destroyed much of the neighboring city of Nagasaki. The 102 and her crew were lucky to get a dock; many other ships filled the harbor as part of the postwar occupation force. As they approached, several olive-green trucks with Marines inside, pulled up to greet them on the dock. The flotilla commander, Captain J. M. McIsaac, had given permission for any of the sailors to tour the ruins of Nagasaki, and witness the destruction of the atomic bomb firsthand. About 40 of the 102's crew took up his offer.

USS LCS-102 served as part of the occupation forces in Japan until December 1945. She then visited numerous ports in East Asia, including Tientsin and Tsingtao in China, and Kunsan in South Korea.

The Mothball Fleet
In April 1946, the 102 returned to the US, before being deemed surplus and decommissioned. She was then laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet, Columbia River Group in Astoria, Oregon. On February 28, 1949, USS LCS-102 would be redesignated a "Landing Ship Support, Large"; USS LSSL-102.

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force
The 102 was later pulled from the mothball fleet to be one of many US Navy ships loaned to the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force. The JMSDF was referred to as such because Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, established after Japan's surrender, prohibited the country from maintaining a navy. It was in Japanese service that the LCS-102 received a roof over the lookout deck, and 81mm mortars on the 01 level. The 20mm guns on the 01 level were subsequently moved to the main deck, and doubled up. Today, the 102 still bears these modifications.

The Royal Thai Navy
In 1965, the ship was returned to the US Navy, but a year later, was on her way to Yokosuka, Japan for turnover to the Royal Thai Navy. The 102 would remain in Thai service until 2007.

Bringing the 102 home

In 1997, the National Association of LCS(L) 1-130 learned that the last operational Landing Craft Support vessel was in Royal Thai Navy custody.

Initial restoration work was completed with the help of "Boyz Under The Hood," a group of classic automobile collectors and enthusiasts based out of Vallejo.

A group of Navy Veterans, gradually assembled over the years, now continues to maintain and restore the 102. Learn more about our volunteers here.