USS Biscayne (AVP-11)
USS Biscayne (AVP-11) on 29 January 1942
|Name:||USS Biscayne (AVP-11)|
|Namesake:||Biscayne Bay in Florida|
|Builder:||Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington|
|Laid down:||27 October 1939|
|Launched:||23 May 1941|
|Sponsored by:||Mrs. A. M. Charleton|
|Commissioned:||3 July 1941|
|Decommissioned:||29 June 1946|
|Reclassified:||Amphibious command ship, AGC-18, 10 October 1944|
|Six battle stars for World War II service|
|Fate:||Transferred to U.S. Coast Guard 10 July 1946
Transferred to U.S. Navy and sunk as target 1968
|Notes:||Served as U.S. Coast Guard cutter USCGC Dexter (WAGC-18, WAVP-385, WHEC-385) 1946-1952 and 1958-1968|
|Class & type:||Barnegat-class small seaplane tender|
|Displacement:||1,766 tons (light); 2,750 tons (full load)|
|Length:||310 ft 9 in (94.72 m)|
|Beam:||41 ft 1 in (12.52 m)|
|Draught:||13 ft 6 in (4.11 m)|
|Installed power:||6,000 horsepower (4.48 megawatts)|
|Propulsion:||Diesel engines, two shafts|
|Speed:||18.6 knots (34.4 km/h)|
|Complement:||215 (ship's company)
367 (including aviation unit)
|Armament:||As built: 2 x single 5-inch (127 mm) 38-caliber dual-purpose gun mounts
1 x single 5-inch (127 mm) 38-caliber dual-purpose gun mount
1 x quad 40-mm antiaircraft gun mount
2 x dual 40-mm antiaircraft gun mounts
4 x dual 20-mm antiaircraft gun mounts
2 × depth charge tracks
|Aviation facilities:||Supplies, spare parts, repairs, and berthing for one seaplane squadron; 80,000 US gallons (300,000 L) aviation fuel|
USS Biscayne (AVP-11), later AGC-18, was a United States Navy Barnegat-class seaplane tender in commission as a seaplane tender from 1941 to 1943 and as an amphibious force flagship from 1943 to 1946.
Construction and commissioning
Biscayne was laid down on 27 October 1939 at Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton, Washington. She was launched on 23 May 1941, sponsored by Mrs. A. M. Charleton, and commissioned on 3 July 1941 with Lieutenant Commander C. C. Champion, Jr., in command.
World War II service
Seaplane tender operations
Following her shakedown cruise, Biscayne joined the Atlantic Fleet and operated out of Boston, Massachusetts, on patrol and plane guard missions from 7 December 1941 until 27 May 1942. For the next four months she served as a seaplane tender and communications ship in Newfoundland and Greenland waters.
Amphibious force flagship operations in the Mediterranean
Biscayne arrived at Mers-el-Kebir, Algeria, on 26 April 1943 and became the flagship of Rear Admiral Richard Lansing Conolly, Commander, Landing Craft and Bases, Northwest African Waters. While at Mers-el-Kebir she was fitted out as an amphibious force flagship by repair ship USS Delta (AR-9) between 2 and 31 May 1943, although she retained her seaplane tender classification and AVP-11 designation for the time being. In May 1943, Biscayne shifted her moorings to Bizerte, Tunisia.
Departing Bizerte on 10 July 1943, Biscayne served as flagship of the Joss (Licata) Force in Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily. She remained off Sicily until 22 July 1943 and then returned to Bizerte.
Beginning on 9 September 1943, Biscayne took part in Operation Avalanche, the Allied landings at Salerno, Italy, as flagship for Vice Admiral H. Kent Hewitt and Rear Admiral Conolly. While off Salerno, she escaped unscathed from frequent air and gunfire attacks. On 12 September 1943, she sent a fire and rescue team on board the British ammunition ship Lyminge and saved that vessel and her cargo of ammunition from destruction. Biscayne also served as a temporary hospital ship while off Salerno. Biscayne retired to Bizerte on 11 October 1943.
On 7 November 1943, Biscayne became the flagship of Rear Admiral F. J. Lowry, Commander, 8th Amphibious Force. Sailing for Italy once again, she served as flagship during Operation Shingle, the Allied landings at Anzio, from 22 January 1944 to 2 February 1944.
Biscayne became flagship of Rear Admiral B. J. Rodgers, Commander, Amphibious Group 2, 8th Amphibious Force, in May 1944. Between 15 August 1944 and 16 September 1944, she took part in Operation Dragoon, the Allied invasion of southern France.
On 10 October 1944, Biscayne was officially reclassified as a miscellaneous flagship and redesignated AGC-18.
Amphibious force flagship operations in the Pacific Theater
Biscayne left the Mediterranean on 12 October 1944 bound for Boston, and then steamed to the Pacific Ocean. She arrived at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 9 January 1945 and became flagship of Captain Frederick Moosbrugger, Commander, Destroyer Squadron 63.
Biscayne took part in the invasion of Iwo Jima from 19 February 1945 to 4 March 1945 as flagship of the transport screen. she carried out similar duties during Operation Iceberg, the landings on Kerama Retto on 26 March 1945 and on Okinawa on 1 April 1945. She remained off Okinawa, supporting U.S. operations during and after the Okinawa campaign, until 1 July 1945, during which time she served as flagship for the occupation of Iheya and Aguni Islands between 3 June 1945 and 9 June 1945.
After her tour at Okinawa, Biscayne retired to Leyte in the Philippine Islands, and remained in the Philippines through the end of World War II, which concluded with the cessation of hostilities with Japan on 15 August 1945.
Biscayne received six battle stars for her World War II service.
Biscayne departed the Philippines on 8 September 1945 to support the occupation of Korea. She remained on occupation duty in Korean and Chinese waters until 30 October 1945, when she left for the United States.
Biscayne arrived at San Diego, California, on 21 December 1945 and at Portland, Maine, on 7 January 1946. She then moved to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, for use as quarters for the academy's aviation instruction staff.
Biscayne was decommissioned on 29 June 1946.
United States Coast Guard service
The U.S. Navy transferred Biscayne to the United States Coast Guard at the Coast Guard Yard at Curtis Bay in Baltimore, Maryland on 10 July 1946. In Coast Guard service, Biscayne was commissioned as USCGC Dexter (WAGC-18) on 8 June 1949. She was later redesignated WAVP-385. Based at Boston, Dexter served on ocean stations in the Atlantic until she was decommissioned on 17 December 1952 and laid up at Curtis Bay.
On 30 June 1958, Dexter was recommissioned and transferred to Alameda, California, where she served in primarily a training role. She was reclassified as a high endurance cutter and redesignated WHEC-385 on 1 May 1966. Decommissioned for the final time on 9 July 1968, she was transferred to U.S. Navy, which sank as a target later in 1968.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- United States Coast Guard Historian's Office: Dexter, 1946 ex-USS Biscayne WAGC-18; WAVP / WHEC-385 Radio call sign: NODC
- NavSource Online Amphibious Photo Archive - AVP-11 / AGC-18 Biscayne - WAGC-16 / WAVP / WHEC-385 Dexter
- Chesneau, Roger. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946. New York: Mayflower Books, Inc., 1980. ISBN 0-8317-0303-2.
- Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
- DANFS: USS Biscayne (AGC-18/AVP-11)
- Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1940-1945 - AGC-18 USS Biscayne