Text Courtsey United States Navy
USS NASHVILLE is one of a class of ships designated Amphibious Transport Dock. NASHVILLE was built by Lockheed Shipbuilding Company, in Seattle Washington, and was commissioned at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington, on 14 February 1970.
The insignia of USS NASHVILLE is centered about thirteen stars that represent the original thirteen colonies. Surrounding the blue field and white stars is the gold compass rose of the Seal of the Metropolitan Government of the City of Nashville, Tennessee, symbolizing the continuing link between the ship and her namesake city.
During the American Revolutionary War, Brigadier General Francis Nash,of the Continental Army, gave his life to ensure the independence of the colonies. The city of Nashville was named in his honor. Emblazoned on the ship’s banner is the Nashville’s motto taken from General Nash’s dying words, “From the first dawn of the Revolution I have ever been on the side of liberty and my country.” Flanking the motto are the traditional emblems of the Navy and Marine Corps.
The ship, and the city of Nashville, are named in honor of Francis Nash. Nash was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia in 1742. At an early age he became prominent as a North Carolina merchant, attorney, and justice of the peace; experiences which eventually lead to a seat in the House of Commons in North Carolina. In 1775, the Provincial Congress elected Nash Lieutenant Colonel of the First North Carolina Regiment, Continental Army. After taking part in the expedition to aid Charlestown in 1776 and 1777, Nash (now in command of the North Carolina Brigade) marched north to join General George Washington’s Army. He was mortally wounded while leading his brigade in the Battle of Germantown, October 4, 1777.
Nash was regarded by Washington as a brave and valuable soldier. The governor of North Carolina described him as “the ablest North Carolina officer in the field.”
In honor of both the city of Nashville, TN and Francis Nash, the Confederate Navy chose to name a ship after them. The Confederate steamer NASHVILLE was the first warship to bear the proud name. Originally a brig-rigged passenger steamer, she was seized by the Confederates after the fall of Fort Sumter and fitted out as a cruiser armed with two 12-pounder guns. After successfully running the Federal blockade on October 21, 1861, she sailed to England and became the first warship to fly the Confederate flag in European waters.
NASHVILLE eluded the blockade and returned to Beaufort, North Carolina on February 28, 1862, having captured two prizes valued at $66,000 during her cruise. For the rest of the year, she served as a blockade runner and a privateer. On February 28, 1863, after an unsuccessful attempt at running the blockade, she was destroyed in the Ogeechee River, Georgia by ships in the Union blockading Squadron.
The second warship, the Confederate Ironclad Ram NASHVILLE was built in 1864. She was originally armed with three 7-inch rifles and one 24-pounder smoothbore gun. She was covered with 2 inches of plating for armor. On August 5, 1864 while still fitting out in Mobile, Alabama, the Battle of Mobile Bay began. By running up the Tombigbee River she managed to evade capture. Surrounded, she was forced to surrender to Union forces on 10 May 1865. Near the end of the Civil War, NASHVILLE’s iron sheathing was removed for naval use. Her stripped hulk was later sold at public auction.
The next ship built was actually the first to bear the additional title of United States Ship. The USS NASHVILLE (PG-7) was a gunboat commissioned at Norfolk, Virginia in 1897. She was originally armed with eight 4-inch 40-caliber guns, two 6-pounder guns, two 3-pounder guns, and two 1-pounder guns.
Shortly after the battleship USS MAINE mysteriously blew up and sank in Havana harbor, NASHVILLE began patrolling near Key West, Florida. After the President proclaimed a blockade of Cuban ports on April 22, NASHVILLE fired the first shot of the war across the bow of the Spanish steamer BUENAVENTURA. This ship was sent as a prize to Key West and NASHVILLE remained on the blockade for the duration of hostilities.
NASHVILLE arrived in Manila on December 31, 1899. At the commencement of the Philippine Insurrection, NASHVILLE acted as a flagship and coordinated several amphibious assaults. Operating in an area where the second USS NASHVILLE (CL 43) would cruise nearly 40 years later, she conducted missions that the third USS NASHVILLE (LPD 13) would perform nearly 100 years later.
In June 1900, NASHVILLE sailed for China and the Boxer Rebellion with a detachment of Marines. Upon arrival, she visited many ports including Shanghai and Nagasaki. Her Asiatic duties ended July 3, 1901 when she sailed for the Mediterranean where she would be based at Genoa. She returned to Boston on January 16, 1903 only to be decommissioned on June 30, 1904.
Recommissioned in 1911 as a result of the deteriorating situation in Europe and on the Atlantic Ocean, NASHVILLE protected convoys in the Caribbean. On August 2, 1917, she departed for Gibraltar to conduct antisubmarine patrols. After World War I ended, NASHVILLE arrived in Charleston, South Carolina on August 3, 1918. She was decommissioned for the final time on October 20, 1918.
The second USS NASHVILLE (CL 43), a light cruiser of the BROOKLYN class, was commissioned in 1938. She originally was armed with fifteen 6-inch 47-caliber guns, eight 5-inch 25-caliber guns, and eight .50 caliber antiaircraft machine guns.
Before the start of World War II, NASHVILLE sailed from port to port with various missions ranging from escorting US Marines to Iceland to carrying $25 million of gold bullion from England to New York. Immediately after the outbreak of hostilities, she began escorting troops to Europe. In early 1942, one of the wildest plans of the war as launched. NASHVILLE was to protect the USS HORNET and the 16 Army B-25 bombers on her deck as she crossed the Pacific Ocean and targeted Tokyo, Japan. Colonel Doolittle led this famous first bomber attack on the Japanese home islands that was eventually made into the book and movie 60 Seconds over Tokyo.
After returning to Pearl Harbor, NASHVILLE was detached to help defend against the Japanese attack on the Aleutian Islands. She conducted shore bombardments of enemy coastal positions. In November, she left the frigid Arctic to head to the hot South Pacific Ocean. With the start of the island hopping tactic, NASHVILLEâ€™s heavy guns provided much needed naval gunfire support (NGFS). Her radar-controlled guns enabled a massive expenditure of ordnance with devastating accuracy. On the night of May 12-13, an explosion in her forward gun turret caused 18 deaths and 15 serious injuries. This did not prevent NASHVILLE from finishing her mission, and the bombardment continued from her remaining turrets.
After a more complete evaluation of the damage, NASHVILLE was sent to Mare Island Navy Yard for a repair and modernization period beginning June 4 1943. Departing the yard on August 4, she cruised up and down the Pacific, escorting convoys and providing NGFS. During one convoy, she suffered severe damage from a near-miss in the middle of an aircraft attack. Even with extensive flooding and oil trailing astern, she could not be stopped or diverted from her duties. Upon the conclusion of this battle, she made quick repairs and continued proudly on.
In October 1944, with General Douglas MacArthur embarked, she led the assault to recapture the Philippine Islands. With victory assured, NASHVILLE disembarked General MacArthur and headed south to join the Battle of Leyte Gulf already in progress. The Japanese had intended to inflict a decisive defeat on the Americans. Much to their dismay, they were the ones decisively defeated.
On December 13, while escorting an amphibious convoy, a Kamikaze carrying two bombs descended toward her bridge. The plane struck one of the after gun mounts and cartwheeled into the port 5-inch battery amidships, spraying gasoline from its ruptured tanks. Both the planeâ€™s bombs were hurled loose, one exploding over the port 5-inch guns and the other over the starboard. Intense gasoline fires instantly broke out topside from NASHVILLE’sforemast to her mainmast. Antiaircraft ammunition, stowed for immediate use in magazines and lockers on deck, began exploding along with ammunition from the crashed plane. But the cruiserâ€™s crew was already fighting back. In less than two minutes from the crash, fire-fighting equipment was on the scene and the men risked their lives in the burning, exploding inferno to jettison unexploded ammunition and smother the flames. Within ten minutes, the fires were under control; before twenty minutes had passed, NASHVILLE’s men had all fires out and continued to fight off aircraft attacks. After this battle, NASHVILLE returned stateside for a major overhaul.
Returning to Subic Bay in May 1945, NASHVILLE finished out the war escorting convoys and providing NGFS. An August 11, 1945 log entry reads, “Anchored in Subic Bay. Received radio press reports of a Japanese offer to surrender. All hands took report in stride and continued to be on alert for surprise attack.” August 15 reads, “Received official word of surrender of Japan and an order to cease offensive action.”
NASHVILLE’s final assignment was “OPERATION MAGIC CARPET,” the return of American veterans to the United States. In two transpacific voyages, she carried more than 1300 soldiers home. On June 24, 1946, one stroke of a pen did what the entire Japanese fleet had tried to do during war: NASHVILLE was removed from naval service and decommissioned. Her story did not end there however. With communism on the rise, on January 9, 1951, she was sold to Chile (renamed CAPITAN PRAT) to help curb against Soviet aggression. NASHVILLE had truly served her country. She earned ten battle stars in World War II and a proud heritage.
It is a legacy that all ships named NASHVILLE – past, present, future – carry on this proud tradition of excellence and will forever remain on the side of “Liberty and Country”.