The USS Yancey is a 459 foot long Amphibious Cargo Ship, AKA - 97, that is resting in 160 feet of water with the highest part at a depth of 120 feet. It was sunk as part of the artificial reef program in 1990. She is intact and laying on her starboard side.
During the summer, the water temperature ranges from the upper 70's to the low 80's. Visibility averages 60 feet but can get up over a 100 feet. There are usually schools of amberjack swimming around the wreck.
The USS Yancey was launched on July 8, 1944 and commissioned on October 11, 1944 under the command of Commander Edward R. Rice, USNR. Loaded with cargo and with 26 landing craft aboard, she set sail on November 25, 1944 for Hawaii. Once in Pearl Harbor, she was assigned to Transport Division 47, Transport Squadron 16. On January 5, 1945, she left Pearl Harbor loaded with cargo of the 5th Marine Division bound for the Marianas and the invasion of Iwo Jima.
The USS Yancey arrived at Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945 to begin the invasion. For four days straight, the landing craft of the USS Yancey traveled back and forth carrying cargo and men and evacuating the wounded. Of her 26 landing craft, 2 were lost. On February 27, 1945, the USS Yancey dropped anchor off of Red Beach. Because of the high surf from bad weather, the cargo was taken ashore by LST's, LSM's and LCT's, instead of her landing craft. On March 2, 1945, the USS Yancey had completed her duties and left for Saipan.
The next battle the USS Yancey was part of was the invasion of Okinawa. She arrived on April 12,1945 and started unloading her cargo that night. There were many air raids on the ship by the Japanese. On April 15, 1945, the USS Yancey shot at and hit a Nakajima Ki. 43 "Oscar" and was credited with a "sure assist" as the plane crashed 3,000 yards away from the ship. After unloading, she left on March 16, 1945 for the Marianas alone. On April 27, 1945, the USS Yancey arrived in Ulithi for repair to her boilers and for anti-aircraft training. While preparing for her next assignment, Japan had surrendered on August 15, 1945.
She offloaded her invasion force and was reloaded with the 1st Cavalry Division for the occupation of Japan. The USS Yancey entered Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, the day of the signing of the formal surrender aboard the Battleship Missouri. From there, she proceeded to Yokohama harbor. After 19 hours of unloading, she anchored out in the bay. After that, she continued transporting men and equipment along the shores of Japan and also into the inland waterways.
On October 15, 1945, the USS Yancey headed for Indochina to pick up Chinese troops and take them to Formosa. On November 13, 1945, 1,027 troops boarded the USS Yancey, along with 1 interpreter. Five days later, the USS Yancey reached port and unloaded the troops, many of whom were seasick from the rough weather that was encountered. On November 18, 1945, she set sail for Manilla to get her next set of orders.
On November 25, 1945, the one year anniversary of her leaving the west coast of the United States, she received her orders to proceed to the east coast of the United States to join up with the Service Force, Atlantic Fleet. Two days later, the USS Yancey was headed back to the United States and was fully loaded with Army and Navy troops scheduled for discharge. As she left Manilla Harbor, the USS Yancey was flying a homeward bound pennant that was 310 feet long and contained 27 stars.
The ship stopped in Pearl Harbor and the Army troops were put ashore and more Navy troops were taken aboard. On December 31, 1945, the USS Yancey passed through the Panama Canal, which she turned out to be the last ship to pass through the Panama Canal in 1945. Six days later, she cleared Cristobal, Canal Zone on her way to New Orleans. From New Orleans, she headed to Jacksonville, FL and then arrived in Norfolk on January 29, 1946. On February 28, 1946, the USS Yancey reached the shipyards in Philadelphia for a regular overhaul that lasted for a few months.
After the overhaul, the USS Yancey operated up and the east coast until October. The USS Yancey received orders that she was reassigned to the west coast and was to take effect on November 9, 1946. After arriving at San Pedro, California, the USS Yancey received orders that she was reassigned to Service Force, Pacific Fleet that was to take effect on November 11, 1946. The next day she was loaded with cargo for Operation "Highjump".
On December 2, 1946, the USS Yancey left port and headed south, for Antarctica. She reached the Bay of Whales, Antarctica on January 18, 1947 and anchored on the ice shelf until February 6, 1946, when she left for the area north of the ice floes. After entering the ice pack on February 9, 1947, the USS Yancey made her way 275 miles through the ice in three days. She joined up with the Coast Guard icebreaker, the North-wind, on February 13, 1947. She reached Port Chamlers, New Zealand on February 22, 1947. During the operation, the USS Yancey became the first ship to conduct an underway refueling below the Antarctic Circle.
After leaving New Zealand, the USS Yancey visited Samoa, Pago Pago, and Hawaii before returning to Port Hueneme, California on May 2, 1947. Upon arriving, she unloaded her cargo and a unit of Seabees, which completed her duty. She was reassigned to Terminal Island, California and placed on restricted availability. Her next assignment was to deliver cargo to Pearl Harbor and Guam.
For the next ten years, the USS Yancey operated from the west coast to bases in Japan, Korea, and the Philippines. In December of 1957, the USS Yancey was deactivated in San Francisco, California and decommissioned in March of 1958. On November 17, 1961, the USS Yancey was recommissioned in Portland, Oregon as the result of President Kennedy's effort to increase the size of the U.S. Navy. Captain Gordon R. Keating took command of the ship.
The USS Yancey arrived in Norfolk on February 2, 1962 to become part of the Atlantic Fleet. Over the next months, the USS Yancey made several runs along the east coast and then made a voyage to deliver a Seabee unit and their equipment to Rota, Spain. After returning to Norfolk, Virginia, she left on October 17, 1962 for Morehead City to load Marines for Operation "PhiBrigLex" that were to take place on Vieques, Puerto Rico. After getting loaded, she headed south for Vieques, but soon found Hurricane Ella in her path. To avoid the worst part of the hurricane, the USS Yancey had to alter her course.
On October 23, 1962, President Kennedy ordered a naval blockade around Cuba because reconnaissance aircraft had detected Soviet missiles present on the island. The USS Yancey was ordered to become part of the blockade. Once the missiles were removed, the USS Yancey returned to normal duty along the east coast and in the Caribbean.
For the next eight years, the USS Yancey was regularly deployed in the Mediterranean where she provided support to the 6th Fleet. In the spring of 1965, the Dominican Republic was at unrest with a civil war. On April 30, 1965, the USS Yancey was diverted from her training mission and arrived off of Santo Domingo, the capital, to assist in the evacuation of refugees. She took 593 refugees aboard. Once they were aboard, they were given blankets, fresh fruit and milk, baby bottles, diapers, crutches, canes, various other items, and information packets in English and Spanish. The ship was converted into nurseries, infirmaries, and information booths, among other necessary stations.
The women slept in the officer's quarters and the children slept in the crew's quarters. The male refugees and the officers and crew of the USS Yancey slept on deck. Some of the crew skipped meals so the refugees would have enough to eat and they skipped showers to conserve water. The number of the refugees was increased during the trip to San Juan as a son, Stephen Yancey Paez, was born to Mr. And Mrs. Rodolfo Paez. On May 1, 1965, USS Yancey reached San Juan and all 594 refugees were unloaded to the waiting Red Cross and relatives. Gasoline, oil, and ammunition were quickly loaded aboard the USS Yancey for delivery to the Marines in Santo Domingo the next day.
Once the supplies were unloaded, 450 more refuges were taken aboard. The same stations were set up as on the previous trip. Once the second group was delivered to San Juan, the USS Yancey returned to Norfolk to resume training and continue making runs between the east coast and the Caribbean.
On a less flattering note, on January 21, 1970, the USS Yancey was at anchor in Norfolk near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel during a snowy gale. With the winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour, she dragged her anchors and eventually collided with the bridge. The collision put the bridge out of service for three weeks. At the time of the collision, there were no cars on the bridge and no one was injured. Until the bridge was repaired, the Navy set up a shuttle service for the people using helicopters and LCU's.
The USS Yancey made her last deployment in the spring of 1970. She returned to Norfolk in the summer of 1970 and was deactivated on October 1, 1970. On January 20, 1971, she was decommissioned for the second time. On March 18, 1971, she was placed in the Reserve Fleet at James River. She remained there until her name was removed from the Navy's list of ships.