USS Cabildo was built by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company and was commissioned by the Commandant, Fifth Naval District on 15 March 1945. Although Cabildo joined the Navy’s Amphibious Force too late in World War II to see extensive action, she did participate in the occupation of Japan.
Decommissioned on 15 January 1947, Cabildo was recommissioned on 7 October 1950 and participated in “Operation Greenhouse,” an Atomic Energy Commission Project in which she was one of the first ships to become radioactive. After extensive decontamination, Cabildo deployed to the Korean Theater of Operation in 1951. In April 1952 while loading minesweeping boats at Wonsan, Korea for Mine Squadron THREE, the ship suffered a direct hit amidships but was able to carry out her mission after local repairs.
From 1952 to 1960, Cabildo operated along the coast of the United States and made several Western Pacific deployments. In 1961, she participated in “Operation Pack Mule” off Southern California and attended the “Pacific Festival” in San Francisco. After an emergency deployment to the Far East, Cabildo participated in “Operation Green Light” and then began an extensive FRAM MARK II overhaul. In 1962, as a unit of Joint Task Force EIGHT, Cabildo again supported nuclear testing in “Operation Dominic”. Making a cruise through the Panama Canal, Cabildo joined President Kennedy’s Task Force blockading Cuba.
Cabildo served as primary control ship during operations “Starlight” and “Piranha”; assisted in transporting elements of the U.S. Army First Cavalry Division; transported elements of the RKO Army’s Tiger Divsion from Korea to Vietnam; and conducted coastal survey operations. In 1968 while on her final WetPac, Cabildo along with Carter Hall transported the first Mobile PBR Base to Nha Be, RVN.
During 1965 while operating in Vietnamese coastal waters, Cabildo’s last operational year centered around her homeport of Long Beach, California after returning from the Western Pacific in December 1968. After an upkeep period, Cabildo’s crew began unit training operations along the California coast in preparation for Refresher Training and Amphibious Refresher Training. Long, difficult days of hard work and training resulted in several significant awards for Cabildo; an award of Excellence for Amphibious Refresher Training; a grade of 91.r for the Material, Maintenance and Management (3-M) Inspection, and the Amphibious Assault Award. The 3-M grade was especially rewarding as VADM Smith, COMPHIBPAC, gave Cabildo special recognition for the highest 3-M Inspection grade under his command.
As she had during the Korean War, Cabildo again supported MINE FORCE units as FlagShip for MINEFLOT THREE during “Operation Bell Call.” In July, Cabildo supported the Battleship New Jersey’s (BB62) visit to Tacoma, Washington’s centennial. Returning to her homeport, she stopped in San Francisco to load Marine reservisits for transportation to Camp Pendleton.
Cabildo ended a long, hard-working career at her homeport Long Beach, California. After three months of preservation, she joined the Inactive Reserve Fleet on 31 March 1970, 16 days after her twenty-fifth birthday.
On it’s last mission was towed from San Diego Naval Station and set adrift West of San Nicholas Island, located approximately 80 to 100 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, where it successfully completed inert weapons impacts. On attempt to recover tow in high seas, broke tow and drifted to San Nicolas Island were it grounded on the southwest side of the Island. On the next morning salvalge tugs attempted to pull her off with no success. All salvageable equipment, externally mounted generator and fuel tanks were lifted off via helicopter and placed on the Island.
The grand old lady was reclaimed by the sea and gracefully entered her final resting place with the dignity of having served her country valiantly.
Presently their is no visible sign from the surface and the wreck has succumbed to the sea. The following map shows the relative position of where the ship sank..
USS Cabildo (LSD-16) Association Website - Last Revision April 1, 2006
This page is maintained by Warren Gammeter <Webmaster@usscabildo.org>.