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USS Mercer (APL-39)
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Name: USS Mercer
Namesake: Mercer County
Builder: Boston Navy Yard, Massachusetts
Laid down: 24 August 1944
Launched: 17 November 1944
Sponsored by: Mrs. Lillian Gaudette
Commissioned: 19 September 1945
Decommissioned: 18 June 1947
Renamed: Mercer, 14 March 1945
Reclassified: APB-39, 7 August 1944
Recommissioned: 12 October 1951
Decommissioned: 17 February 1956
Recommissioned: 11 May 1968
Decommissioned: Date unknown
In service: 1 November 1975
Reclassified: Miscellaneous Auxiliary IX-502, date unknown
Barracks Ship APL-39, 7 March 2001
Honors and
4 campaign stars, Presidential Unit Citation and Navy Unit Commendation (Vietnam)
Status: in active service, as of 2022
General characteristics
Class & type: Benewah-class barracks ship
Displacement: 4,080 long tons (4,145 t)
Length: 328 ft (100 m)
Beam: 50 ft (15 m)
Draft: 11 ft 2 in (3.40 m)
Speed: 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Troops: 1,226
Complement: 141
Armament: • 8 × 40 mm guns
• 8 × 20 mm guns

The second USS Mercer (APB 39/IX 502/APL 39) is a Benewah-class barracks ship of the United States Navy. Originally classified as Barracks Craft APL 39, the ship was reclassified as Self-Propelled Barracks Ship APB 39 on 7 August 1944. Laid down on 24 August 1944 by Boston Navy Yard, and launched on 17 November 1944 as APB 39, sponsored by Mrs. Lillian Gaudette, the ship was named Mercer, after counties in eight states, on 14 March 1945, and commissioned on 19 September 1945, Lt. Comdr. Edward E. Vezey, Jr., USNR, in command.[1]

Service history

New York, 1945–1947

Mercer, a barracks ship built on an LST hull, commenced her career of berthing and messing large numbers of naval personnel at New York on 7 November 1945. Transferred to the Inactive Fleet in January 1946, she remained at New York until 9 September, when she got underway for Orange, Texas, and remained in duty there until the spring of 1947. She then headed for Green Cove Springs, Florida, where she was decommissioned on 18 June 1947, but remained in service with the Florida Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet.[1]

Naples, Rhode Island and Argentia, 1951–1956

She was recommissioned on 12 October 1951 and after a brief overhaul sailed for Norfolk, Virginia, en route to Naples, Italy, where she served as a receiving ship until 1 July 1952.[1]

Returning to the United States on 21 July, she underwent an overhaul and reported to Davisville, Rhode Island, for duty as a barracks ship for Mobile Construction Battalions. On such duty into late 1955, Mercer was thrice deployed to Argentia, Newfoundland from 19 March to 3 October 1953, 14 March to 18 October 1954, and 27 February to 25 July 1955. Her Seabee duty was interrupted when she sailed to Washington, D.C., to berth midshipmen of the United States Merchant Marine Academy taking part in President Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1953 Inaugural Parade.[1]

Upon returning from her 1955 Argentia deployment, Mercer sailed to New York for a pre-inactivation overhaul, and on 7 November she sailed for Green Cove Springs where she was decommissioned 17 February 1956, and once again entered the Reserve Fleet. Eleven years later she was reactivated and taken to Long Beach, California for modernization.[1]

Vietnam, 1968–1969

She was recommissioned on 11 May 1968 and on 2 June reported for duty with the Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, at San Diego. Within the month she was en route to her ultimate assignment, the Republic of Vietnam where she arrived at Vung Tau on 31 July. Well into 1969 she supported mobile naval units fighting Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces operating in South Vietnam.[1]

Mercer left Vietnam in August 1969.[2]

Sasebo, 1975–1980s

Decommissioned and reclassified as Miscellaneous Auxiliary IX 502, a messing and berthing barge, she was placed in service on 1 November 1975 at the US Naval Ship Repair Facility, Sasebo, Japan.[3]

1980s and 1990s

IX 502 served during the 1980s as a berthing barge at Naval Station San Diego, providing berthing, messing, and classroom accommodation for crews of ships undergoing overhaul. The ship was towed to the Long Beach Naval Shipyard, California, in the early 1990s, where she served the same function until the shipyard closed in 1997.

Return to Sasebo

Reclassified as Barracks Ship (non-self propelled) APL 39 on 7 March 2001, APL 39 is part of the CincPacFlt Berthing and Messing Program and is berthed at SRF Det. Sasebo, Japan.[3]


USS Mercer earned four campaign stars for Vietnam War service, in addition to the Presidential Unit Citation and the Navy Unit Commendation.[3]


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