USS HERMITAGE was constructed by the Ingall's Shipbuilding Corporation, Pascagoula, Mississippi. Her keep was layed April 11, 1955 and the ship was launched June 12, 1956. She was commissioned as USS HERMITAGE (LSD-34) on December 14, 1956, the second ship to be named after the estate of President Andrew Jackson. The first USS HERMITAGE (AD-54), was the former Italian Passenger Liner SS Conte Biancamano, and served as a troop transport during WWII. After the war she was decommissioned and returned to Italy in 1947.

After reporting for duty in the Atlantic Amphibious Force in January 1957, the intervening years have been filled with numerous deployments and amphibious operations, one which provided helicopter transportation for PRESIDENT EISENHOWER during his visit to Asia in 1959.

In 1964, HERMITAGE participated in Exercise Steel Spike off the Spanish Coast. This was the largest peace-time Navy-Marine exercise ever to take place on foreign shore and involved more than 60 ships and 25,000 men. Further amphibious operations took her to the Dominican Republic in 195 and Vietnam in 1967. Following a shipyard overhaul in 1973, she participated in two more cruises as part of the Caribbean Amphibious Ready Group.

In July 1975, HERMITAGE sailed to the Mediterranean for numerous amphibious exercises and weeks of intensive training,. A few weeks after returning from the cruise, HERMITAGE participated in the emergency earthquake relief mission to Guatemala by transporting clothing and a large quantity of road building equipment. In April 1976, she was part of Exercise Solid Shield, an annual multi-service East Coast training operation. In late August, she departed for Northern Europe to participate in combined NATO air, land and sea force exercises.

In April 1977, HERMITAGE deployed to the Mediterranean and participated in Exercise Dawn Patrol and Display Determination, returning to homeport in October 1977. She again deployed to the Mediterranean in 1979, after a lengthly overhaul and Refresher Training, returning to Little Creek in February 1980. August saw HERMITAGE underway in the North Atlantic to participate in the large NATO exercise Teamwork '80.

HERMITAGE deployed to the Mediterranean in January 1981. Three months into the cruise, Mideast tensions necessitated anchoring off the coast of Lebanon. She returned to homeport in July 1981.

In late January 1982, HERMITAGE set sail for Panama and supported combined U.S. Army and U.S. Navy exercises in defense of the Panama Canal. After Blue Water Workups in April, the ship again set sail for the Mediterranean. Five of six months were spent in support of peace efforts to resolved Middle East tensions. On June 24, HERMITAGE transported 181 U.S. and U.S. sponsored citizens from the Lebanese port of Juniyah to safety in Lanarca, Cyprus. On August 25, HERMITAGE assisted the evacuation of the newly formed Multi-National Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon. HERMITAGE remained a anchor off Beirut until late October in support of the peace keeping force.