Basic Narrative - USS HERMITAGE (LSD-34)

Upon completion of a successful tour of duty in Vietnam from April to December 1967, HERMITAGE returned to her homeport, Little Creek, Virginia for upkeep. It was not long before she was underway again, this time participating in Operation Spring Board in the Caribbean, from 4 February to 22 February 1968.

When the ship returned from Springboard an alongside availability was scheduled at Norfolk Naval Shipyard for main engine repairs commencing 5 March 1968. During this shipyard period HERMITAGE crewmembers were honored for Vietnam service on two different occasions. On 14 March, COMPHIBLANT, VICE ADMIRAL MUSTIN, presided at an awards ceremony which included a Bronze Star. At a similar ceremony on 5 April COMPHIBGRU FOUR, REAR ADMIRAL WELCH, presented CAPTAIN H.S. MATHEWS with a Bronze Star with Combat "V".

After completion of the shipyard work on 16 April, HERMITAGE participated in a full-scale Amphibious Landing at Onslow Beach, North Carolina from 22 April to 1 May. The Under Secretary of the Navy was on hand to witness the exercise.

On 22 May CAPTAIN D.R. JEX relieved CAPTAIN J.S. MATHEWS as the twelfth Commanding Officer of the USS HERMITAGE, in a ceremony held on board.

On 10 June HERMITAGE sailed with the Amphibious Ready Group as CARIB 2-68. Embarked aboard were Marine Shore Party, Recon Tram, UDT Team-22, ACU-2, BMU-=2 and 32 first and third class Midshipmen on their summer training cruise, which would last until 29 July.

After completion of Racer Run, a convoy movement exercise and Amphibious Landing on Vieques Island, HERMITAGE visited San Juan and on 3 July arrived in Nassau, Bahamas. here, on Independence Day, HERMITAGE hosted some 500 guests including the Governor, Consul General, and other dignitaries, at a reception onboard. General visiting and pier displays contributed to an admirable visit.

Photograph by Michael Ritzel, 12 April 1972, N.A.B . Little Creek

After leaving Nassau on 6 July, HERMITAGE again visited San Juan and then participated in another Amphibious Landing on Vieques. On 29 July, after bidding farewell to the Midshipmen in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, HERMITAGE began preparation for operation "DORIA SALUTE", a joint Dutch-American Amphibious Landing on the Island of St. Eustatius in the Netherlands Antilles. HERMITAGE and its embarked detachments conducted beach surveys and reconnaissance on the tiny island under the puzzled gazes of the Island's population. The short stay on the island was crowned 2 August by a reception and buffet in the wardroom for dignitaries of the Island.

After a brief visit in St. Thomas from 16 - 20 August, HERMITAGE returned to San Juan. Here, on 20 August, VICE ADMIRAL L.C. HEINZ, COMPHIBLANT, presented the Meritorious Unit Commendation to the ship for its outstanding performance in Southeast Asia.

From 29 August to 8 September, HERMITAGE was in Panama for upkeep and jungle training for a select few members of the crew.

Following stops in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Guatanamo Bay, Cuba, and San Juan, the ship visited Trinidad from 8 -10 October and the Dutch Island of Aruba 14-18 October.

Operation "DORIA SALUTE" which commenced on 21 October was the last exercise by CARIB 2-68 and showed that two different Nations can make a very successful Amphibious Landing in rather unfamiliar and somewhat treacherous terrain.

HERMITAGE returned to Little Creek on 6 November for two months. During this time she underwent an insurv inspection between 18 and 20 November. A dependent's cruise was held on 27 December just prior to HERMITAGE's next mission.

On 7 January 1969, HERMITAGE left for Philadelphia to embark the General Electric "TEKTITE" habitat for transport to Lameshur Bay, St. John's, Virgin Islands. Six sections of HERMITAGE"s flight deck had been removed previously to accommodate the Habitat, which will be the home and operations base for four aquanauts who will live for 60 days, 50 feet beneath the surface of the ocean.

After the "TEKTITE" habitat was offloaded on 13 January, HERMITAGE lifted a Marine Battalion from Morehead City, N.C. to Vieques Island for the "FIREX". She then set said for Key West, Florida to carry an aircraft crash boat to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. After this she joined the rest of the Amphibious Units participating in "OPERATION SPRINGBOARD."

On 18 February, HERMITAGE arrived back in Little Creek to make final preparations for its yard overhaul commencing on 12 March at Horne Bros. in Newport News, Virginia.

Document supplied by Stephen Barron.