- USS Estes (AGC-12)
USS "Estes" (AGC-12) was a "Mount McKinley"-class amphibious force command ship,, officially named after "A
mountainpeak and national parkin Colorado." [Since there is no mountain peak nor national park in Colorado named "Estes", this is unlikely, although official (http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/e5/estes.htm). An alternative source of the name is "for the mountain range in Colorado near Estes Park", found at http://www.ussestes.org/ShipInfo/History.htm . However, the range near Estes Parkis the Front Range; there is no mountain range named "Estes" in Colorado either.] .
She was designed as an amphibious force
flagship, a floating command post with advanced communications equipment and extensive combat information spaces to be used by the amphibious forces commander and landing force commander during large-scale operations.
Commissioning and 1944
"Estes" was launched on
1 November 1943at the North Carolina Shipbuilding Companyin Wilmington, North Carolina, as "Morning Star"; acquired by the Navy on 22 February 1944; and commissioned on 9 October 1944, with CommanderR. O. Mathews in command. On 20 November 1944, "Estes" arrived at Pearl Harborfrom Naval Station Norfolk, and after training, broke the flag of Rear Admiral William H. P. Blandy, Commander, Amphibious Group One. She sailed from Pearl Harboron 10 January 1945for rehearsal landings in the Marianas, and on 16 Februaryarrived off Iwo Jima. As flagshipfor TF 52, "Estes" served as control center for the pre-invasion bombardment, and the work of underwater demolition teams preparing the beaches for the assault. She remained off the island through the landings of 19 February, receiving woundedand supplying and repairing small craft. She arrived at Ulithion 11 Marchto make final preparations for the Okinawa assault.
flagshipfor TF 52, the amphibious support force, "Estes" was off Okinawa on 24 March 1945. She landed an underwater demolition group, then sailed with the bombardment group, directing the pre-invasion pounding of the beaches and Japanese strong points. Using information gained from her contacts with the radar picket destroyers, she controlled aircraft carrierplanes protecting the vast concentration of shipping assembled for the assault on 1 April. After almost a month off the bitterly contested island, she sailed on 20 Aprilto replenish at Saipanand carry Admiral Blandy to Pearl Harbor, where he and his staff disembarked on 19 May. "Estes" continued to San Franciscofor overhaul, and equipment installation designed to make her even more effective. On 20 July, she embarked Rear Admiral R. O. Davis, Commander, Amphibious Group 13, and on 8 Augustsailed for the Philippines. She arrived at Leyte on 28 Augustfor occupation duty, coordinating the lifting of troops from the Philippinesto Japan. After cruising widely in the Philippineson this duty, "Estes" sailed for Shanghai, and upon her arrival on 7 November, broke the flag of Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, Commander, 7th Fleet. Before she had completed her tour of occupation duty along the Chinese coast, for part of which she was homeported at Tsingtao, she served as flagshipfor three succeeding commanders of the 7th Fleet, Vice Admiral Daniel E. Barbey, Admiral Charles M. Cooke, and Admiral Oscar C. Badger.
In June 1946, "Estes" became
flagshipfor Naval Forces, Western Pacific, and continued to cruise between Tsingtao and Hong Kong, aside from a 1947 overhaul at Bremerton, until 29 January 1948, when she departed Tsingtao for San Francisco. Arriving on 16 February, she lay at San Franciscoand San Diegountil her decommissioning and being placed in reserve on 30 June 1949.
"Estes" was recommissioned on
31 January 1951, and after training off San Diego, sailed on 20 Junefor Yokosukaand Inchon, where from 25 Julyto 6 August, she served as flagshipfor Vice Admiral I. N. Kiland, Commander, Amphibious Force, Pacific. She carried successive Commanders, Amphibious Group One, through the remainder of this tour of duty in the Far East, during which she operated off Koreaand in exercises off Japan. Returning to San Diegoon 19 April 1952, "Estes" carried high-ranking observers to the Marshall Islandsfor nuclear weapons tests in the fall of 1952, and in the summer of 1953, served as flagshipfor an expedition to supply Government activities in the Arctic. Between January and May 1954, she again sailed for atomic weapons tests at Eniwetok, and on 6 Julycleared for the Far East. As control ship for Operation "Passage to Freedom," the evacuation of refugees from Communist North Vietnam, "Estes" operated from Haiphongfrom 18 Augustto 29 October. Between 6 Februaryand 11 February, 1955she aided the evacuation of the Tachen Islandsresulting from the Taiwan Strait Crisis. "Estes" returned to San Diegoon 22 May 1955. She operated out of there for the next year. Between March and July 1956, she was again in the Marshalls for weapons tests, and on 31 January 1957sailed for Yokosuka, where she provided quarters and communications facilities until April, sailing then to visit Hong Kong. She returned to stateside duty on 15 May, voyaging to Pearl Harborin July and August. The next year found "Estes" sailing north in July to ports in British Columbia, and again in August to call at Seattle. During her 1959 tour of duty in the Far Eastshe directed important amphibious operations off Japan, Okinawa, and Korea, and exercises off Borneowith ships of the Royal Navyand Royal New Zealand Navy.
She returned to Long Beach in August, and through 1962 operated along the west coast, twice visiting the
On 31 October 1969, "Estes" was decommissioned for the final time. "Estes" received two
battle stars for World War IIservice, and two for Korean warservice.
* [http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/e5/estes.htm history.navy.mil: USS "Estes"]
* [http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/01/0112.htm navsource.org: USS "Estes"]
* [http://www.ussestes.org/ USS Estes Association Home Page]
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