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USS Mount Olympus (AGC-8) was a Mount McKinley-class amphibious force command ship, named after the highest peak in the Olympic Mountainsmarker of Washingtonmarker. She was designed as an amphibious force flagship, a floating command post with advanced communications equipment and extensive combat information spaces to be used by the amphibious forces commander and landing force commander during large-scale operations.

World War II

Mount Olympus was laid down on 3 August 1943 at the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company in Wilmington, North Carolinamarker; launched on 3 October 1943 as Eclipse, a transport, sponsored by Mrs. W. C. Park; renamed Mount Olympus on 27 December 1943; and commissioned at Boston, Massachusettsmarker, after conversion on 24 May 1944, with Captain John Henry Shultz in command.

Mount Olympus departed the east coast in early July, arriving Hawaii via the Panama Canalmarker 23 July. With Commander, 3d Amphibious Force, embarked, she was underway from Hawaii 29 August. She arrived Leyte Gulfmarker 20 October, serving as the afloat headquarters for the invasion force. The landing force was subjected to constant air attacks but its survival was assured by the American naval victory in the Battle of Leyte Gulfmarker, which destroyed the Japanese Navy as an effective combat force.

On 26 October, the flagship departed for Hollandiamarker, New Guineamarker, via Peleliumarker, in preparation for the next assault on the Japanese occupied Philippinesmarker. After invasion rehearsals in Huon Gulf, New Guineamarker, the ship departed Manus Islandmarker, Admiraltiesmarker, 31 December for the assault on Lingayen Gulfmarker 9 January 1945. After the initial assault and with the ground force commander disembarked, Mount Olympus was underway 11 January from Lingayen Gulfmarker. She called at Ulithimarker to allow Commander, 3d Amphibious Force, to disembark to travel by plane to Hawaii, while she herself sailed for overhaul at San Franciscomarker, arriving 11 February and leaving 22 April for Hawaii and Guammarker.

Arriving Guammarker 6 July, Mount Olympus sailed on for Manilamarker, colliding en route with oiler . The flagship was escorted to San Pedro Baymarker, Leytemarker, for repairs by , then continued to Manilamarker, arriving 3 August. After the close of hostilities, Mount Olympus arrived Tokyo Baymarker 2 September with the 1st Cavalry Division on board for Yokohama. After 8 months’ moving occupation troops from the Philippinesmarker and other bases to ports in Japanmarker and Chinamarker, she left Shanghai 28 May 1946 for San Diegomarker, the Panama Canalmarker, and New Yorkmarker, arriving 7 July.

Post-war

In September she was made flagship for Operation Highjump, the Navy Antarctic Expedition. The ship sailed from Norfolkmarker 2 December, passed through the Panama Canalmarker to rendezvous with the Pacific group, and with them reached Bay of Whales, New Zealandmarker, 16 January 1947. Detached 11 February, Mount Olympus returned Norfolkmarker 17 April to become flagship of Commander, Amphibious Group 2, in training along the eastern seaboard and in the Caribbeanmarker. She became flagship and temporary headquarters for CINCNELM/CINCSOUTH in the Mediterraneanmarker 21 June 1951.

Relieved by in August 1951, Mount Olympus returned to Norfork and duty as Amphibious Group 2 flagship, joining in NATO naval exercises “Mainbrace” and “Longs” in northern Europe and the Mediterraneanmarker from August to December 1952.

After an overhaul in Norfolk from December to March 1953, when a helicopter deck was installed, she served in the Atlantic Fleet until 5 January 1955, when she sailed for the Panama Canalmarker and San Diegomarker, arriving 23 January.

Having participated in exercise “Surfboard” off the coast of Washingtonmarker in February, Mount Olympus proceeded to Arctic waters as part of Project 572 in support of DEW Line operations, While underway from Point Barrowmarker to Point Hope, Alaskamarker, she became icebound, but was freed by the icebreaker . Having sustained damage to structural bulkheads from the ice pressure, the ship was repaired by Current in Point Hope. Mount Olympus returned to San Diegomarker on 29 September and on 31 October 1955 proceeded to Mare Island Naval Shipyardmarker for inactivation.

Decommissioning

She decommissioned on 4 April 1956 and was struck from the Navy list on 1 June 1961. The ship transferred to the Maritime Administration in June 1966 and remained in the Maritime Administration Reserve Fleetmarker, Suisun Bay, California. She was scrapped in 1973.

Mount Olympus received two battle stars for World War II service.

References

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