Figure 2: USS Thomas Jefferson (AP-60) off Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia, 23 September 1942. Note the single 5-inch low-angle gun on the stern, with two 3-inch dual-purpose and two 20-mm anti-aircraft guns just forward of and above it. US Navy Bureau of Ships photograph now in the collections of the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Thomas Jefferson (now APA-30) at New York on 15 April 1943 in a bi-color dark-blue and haze-gray camouflage scheme. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Thomas Jefferson (APA-30) off the Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia, 6 December 1944. Her 5-inch gun aft has been removed and two twin 40-mm anti-aircraft mounts have been added, one forward above and between the two raised 3-inch gun tubs and one aft. She is painted in camouflage Measure 32/6T. US Navy Bureau of Ships photograph now in the collections of the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Thomas Jefferson (APA-30) off the Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia, 6 December 1944. Her 5-inch gun aft has been removed and two twin 40-mm anti-aircraft mounts have been added, one forward above and between the two raised 3-inch gun tubs and one aft. She is painted in camouflage Measure 32/6T. US Navy Bureau of Ships photograph now in the collections of the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Thomas Jefferson (APA-30) off the Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia, 6 December 1944. Her 5-inch gun aft has been removed and two twin 40-mm anti-aircraft mounts have been added, one forward above and between the two raised 3-inch gun tubs and one aft. She is painted in camouflage Measure 32/6T. US Navy Bureau of Ships photograph now in the collections of the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Thomas Jefferson (APA-30) at anchor in San Francisco Bay, California, circa June 1954. US Navy photograph from the archives of the San Francisco Examiner. This picture was printed in the 15 June 1954 issue of the San Francisco Examiner. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: USS Thomas Jefferson (APA-30) underway, date and location unknown. Photograph courtesy of David Green. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States, the 16,175-ton USS Thomas Jefferson (AP-60) was a President Jackson Class transport that was built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corporation at Newport News, Virginia, and was commissioned on 31 August 1942. The ship was approximately 492 feet long and 69 feet wide, had a top speed of 18.4 knots, and had a crew of 593 officers and men. Thomas Jefferson was armed with four 3-inch guns, two twin 40-mm guns, and 18 20-mm guns. As a transport, she could also carry roughly 1,265 troops and 3,500 tons of cargo.
After completing a brief shakedown cruise, a fully loaded Thomas Jefferson left Hampton Roads, Virginia, on 24 October 1942 and joined Task Group 34.9 for the American invasion of North Africa. On 7 November, the ships of the task group were steaming off the port city of Fedala, Morocco, and Thomas Jefferson began unloading troops by 0200 hours the next morning. Unfortunately, the transport lost 16 of her 33 landing boats, which were used in the initial assault, because they landed on a rocky beach roughly three miles from their designated area. On 11 November, Thomas Jefferson rescued survivors from the transport USS Joseph Hewes (AP-50), which was torpedoed by the German submarine U-173. The next day, she picked up survivors from the transports USS Hugh L. Scott (AP-43), USS Edward Rutledge (AP-52), and USS Tasker H. Bliss (AP-42), all of which were torpedoed by U-130. On 15 November, Thomas Jefferson returned to the United States and arrived at Norfolk, Virginia, eleven days later.
On 27 December 1942, Thomas Jefferson, carrying a full load of cargo and troops, was assigned to a convoy bound for the South Pacific. She left America’s east coast and, after transiting the Panama Canal, made her way by late January 1942 to New Caledonia and Australia. During her trip back to the Panama Canal, the ship was re-classified an attack transport and re-designated APA-30 on 1 February 1943. Thomas Jefferson left the Canal Zone on 3 March with a convoy headed for New York City.
Thomas Jefferson returned to Norfolk in mid-April 1943 and participated in landing exercises to prepare for the Allied invasion of Sicily. The transport then joined an amphibious task force that headed for the Mediterranean, arriving off the coast of Oran, Algeria, on 22 June. After two more weeks of practice landings, Thomas Jefferson’s task force left Oran and steamed towards Sicily. The ships arrived there on 10 July. During the actual invasion, the sea was rough as troops climbed down cargo nets and into the landing craft, which were bobbing along the sides of Thomas Jefferson. But this time the troops were successfully landed with very little enemy opposition. During this operation, Thomas Jefferson’s gunners shot down two enemy aircraft.
Thomas Jefferson returned to Algeria and was attached to Task Group 81.2, which was the Transport Group for the US Southern Attack force. Her next mission was the invasion of Salerno, Italy. The task group left Oran on 5 September 1943 and arrived off the coastal town of Salerno three days later. Thomas Jefferson landed her troops on schedule despite heavy enemy air opposition. She then left for Oran to bring reinforcements and supplies back to Italy. In late November 1943, Thomas Jefferson took on board members of the US 82nd Airborne Division and transported them from the Mediterranean to Belfast, Northern Ireland. After disembarking her troops, the ship returned to the United States.
Thomas Jefferson arrived back at Norfolk on 1 January 1944. She steamed north to New York City in early February. On 11 February, Thomas Jefferson left New York as part of the largest single troop convoy of the war. The ships were headed for Belfast, where preparations were being made for the massive Allied invasion of Normandy, France. After discharging her troops and cargo in Belfast, Thomas Jefferson spent the next few weeks participating in amphibious training exercises before moving on to Weymouth, England. Once there, the ship officially became part of the Normandy invasion fleet. On 5 June 1944, Thomas Jefferson got underway for France with the huge Allied invasion force. Early the next morning, on D-Day, Thomas Jefferson was at her assigned position off the beaches of Normandy. She landed her troops at 0630 hours. The ship completed unloading troops and cargo that afternoon and, at sunset, headed back to Weymouth.
Thomas Jefferson remained in Great Britain for a month before returning to North Africa early in July 1944. After unloading cargo in Oran, she was sent to Salerno to practice amphibious operations with the US Army’s 36th Infantry Division in preparation for the invasion of southern France. Thomas Jefferson was attached to Task Force 87 and this group was assigned to land assault troops on the east coast of Provence, France. After leaving the invasion staging area at Palermo, Sicily, the task force arrived off the coast of southern France on 14 August 1944. The next morning, Thomas Jefferson’s boats landed her troops and the ship completed unloading all of its cargo two days later. The transport then went to Naples, Italy, to begin shuttling reinforcements and supplies back to southern France. On 24 October, Thomas Jefferson left for the United States and arrived at Norfolk on 8 November.
Thomas Jefferson left Norfolk on 15 December 1944 for the Pacific via the Panama Canal. After transiting the Panama Canal, the ship made stops at San Francisco, California, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, arriving there on 28 January 1945. After completing some training exercises with the US Marine Corps in the Solomon Islands, Thomas Jefferson was assigned to Task Group 53.2 and was headed for Okinawa, Japan.
Thomas Jefferson arrived off the coast of Okinawa on 1 April 1945. Her amphibious assault boats left the ship at 0800 hours and landed 30 minutes later. After staying off the coast of that bitterly contested island for five days, the transport returned to Pearl Harbor. On 8 May, the ship left Hawaii and carried troops and supplies back to Okinawa. After unloading her cargo, Thomas Jefferson made the long journey back to the United States, arriving at San Francisco on 15 July.
Thomas Jefferson sailed back to the Far East on 23 July 1945. After making stops at Pearl Harbor and Saipan in the Mariana Islands, the ship moved on to Sasebo, Japan, arriving there on 22 September 1945, well after the formal Japanese surrender on 2 September. Thomas Jefferson then was assigned to Operation “Magic Carpet,” which brought American servicemen from overseas back to the United States. On 4 January 1946, the ship was transferred to the Naval Transportation Service to carry servicemen’s dependents to Pacific bases. Thomas Jefferson shuttled passengers and cargo between San Francisco and Pearl Harbor for the next ten months. On 17 October 1946, Thomas Jefferson left San Diego, California, for the east coast and arrived at New York City on 4 November. The ship entered the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York for a major overhaul and repairs. The shipyard work was not completed until March 1947.
Thomas Jefferson returned to the west coast on 14 March 1947 and arrived at Oakland, California, on 30 March. From April 1947 to August 1949, the ship sailed the waters between San Francisco and ports in Hawaii, Guam, Midway Island, Japan, China, and the Philippines. Assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service on 31 October 1949, she continued her Pacific voyages until 1950.
Thomas Jefferson was at San Diego on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea. She made a round trip from San Diego to Yokohama, Japan, and on 28 August headed back to the Far East. The ship made stops at Yokosuka and Kobe, Japan, before moving on to Inchon, Korea. She arrived there on 20 September and remained there for eight days. In October, Thomas Jefferson was again steaming in Korean waters, shuttling troops and cargo from Pusan to Iwon, Korea. The transport returned to Sasebo on 10 November and then got underway for San Francisco.
Thomas Jefferson stayed in San Francisco from 1 December 1950 to 24 January 1951, when she headed directly to Pusan with troops and cargo. She arrived at Pusan on 8 February and remained there for two days. The ship then returned to the United States, but was back at Pusan on 2 April. The next day, Thomas Jefferson left once again for San Francisco, but stayed there only long enough to embark troops and supplies before returning to Japan. The transport made additional trips to Korea in May and August. She returned to San Francisco on 10 September 1951 and did not sail west of the Hawaiian Islands until 1954.
Thomas Jefferson steamed to the Far East in August and December 1954 before returning to California for the last time. After arriving at San Francisco, the ship was placed in reserve on 7 March 1955. The transport was formally decommissioned on 18 July 1955. Thomas Jefferson was struck from the Navy list on 1 October 1958 and transferred to the Maritime Administration for disposal. The veteran combat transport was sold for scrapping on 1 March 1973. USS Thomas Jefferson received six battle stars for her service during World War II and four battle stars for her service during the Korean War.