History of The USS Krishna (ARL-38)

December 21, 1998


Photos Courtesy of HM3 Bill Lupetti

Photos Courtesy of HM3 Bill Lupetti

Originally classified LST-1149, USS Krishna was reclassified ARL-38 on 14 August 1944: and laid down 23 February 1945 by Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. Senaca, Ill. ; launched 25 May 1945; placed into reduced commission during transfer to Mobile, AL. for conversion and commissioned 3 December 1945, at Mobile, Lt. Lyle E. Brown in command.

Departing Mobile 8 January 1946, Krishna arrived Norfolk 14 January for duty with Amphibious Group 2 at Little Creek, VA. For more then 19 years the landing craft repair ship operated out of Little Creek, and support-and-repair operations have carried her from Baffin Bay to Caribbean. From 25 May to 31 August 1951 she participated in Operation “Blue Jay” during the initial phase of establishing the large base at Thule, Greenland. While at Little Creek she made annual deployments to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Island, and the Caribbean Islands supporting amphibious landing operations.

Krishna departed Little Creek 5 October 1964 and sailed to waters off southern Spain, arriving Huelva 26 October, while there she participated in “Operation Pike I”, the largest Amphibious landing operation since World War II which sent more then 28,000 2nd Division Marines storming the shores on a mock invasion. One of 84 naval ships Krishna provided support and replenishment services during this impressive exercise that clearly illustrated the strength and diversity of American naval sea power and emphasized the Navy’s ability and readiness to move a vast amphibious force to any shore if needed in keeping the peace. Departing Huelva 4 November steamed to the east coast arriving 29 November.

38From 1 December to 22 February 1965, Krishna reactivated Kirwin (APD-90) and on 1 June 1965 was assigned to the Pacific Fleet. Departing Little Creek, she steamed via the Panama Canal to Pearl Harbor and Guam for duty in the far east. Operating out of Subic Bay in the Philippines, she reached the Gulf of Thailand off the coast of Vietnam 17 September and began duty as a support ship for patrol craft of the U.S. Coast Guard Squadron 1. While the cutters patrolled The coastal waters to prevent infiltration of ammo, and supplies to the Viet Cong. Krishna served as a repair facility and fueling station as well as operations and communications and command center. Later in the year she also provided services for eight 50′ Swift Boats that arrived to strengthen the coastal surveillance program.

Krishna remained on station unit 1 December when she departed for Thailand arriving 3 December. She returned to her various support duties in the Gulf of Thailand on 11 December. In February Krishna raised and salvaged PCF-4. On 30 April men from the Krishna helped extinguished a fire in An Thoi, a South Vietnamese village.

Krishna had a number of distinguished visitors through 1966 including Secretary of the Navy, Paul H. Nitze on the 15th of July. On 21 July she headed for Sasebo Japan, with a stopover in Taiwan, on 29 July to provide repair facilities. Arriving Sasebo on 9 August. Krishna departed Sasebo for Vietnam 22 September, arriving in the Gulf of Siam on 7 October to resume her WestPac mission. Krishna continued to serve off the coast of Vietnam through 1966 and 1967.

During her time in Vietnam the Krishna would provide support and repair for many units from many divisions. Krishna performed repairs in An Thoi, Rach Gia, Long Xuyen, Dong Tam, Nha Be, Vung Tau, My Tho, Can Tho, Song Ong Doc, Nam Can and Binh Thuy to name a few places she served.

In June 1970, under the command of LCDR B.C. Newby, Krishna was ordered to proceed to Nam Can to support operation “SEAFLOAT” on the Cua Lon River. The first night at anchor Krishna’s stern anchor failed to hold so she got underway and anchored just off the mouth of the river to await two Ells anchors to put on her stern wire. Once modifications were completed Krishna went back to Nam Can and anchored. At about 1200 on 5 July 1970, with sea and anchor detail secured, one lift was performed. PCF-89 was placed on the forward barge for repairs. PCF-40 was to be placed on the aft barge the next morning.

38bAt about 2200 Krishna came under a sapper attack An underwater explosion caused a 20’x20′ hole portside aft 10’ below the waterline damaging 9 compartments and tanks and causing major flooding of the repair shops and supply center located in the tank deck. The crew worked through out the night to clear damage and install temporary shoring to get Krishna de-watered.  As a result of the explosion, the accommodation ladder to the aft barge was carried away and landed on the deck of PCF-40 resulting in the death of QM2 Lanny Buroff. The barge had also suffered great damage and was slowly sinking.

Prior to getting underway for Saigon, PCF-89 was lifted and re-floated. Repairs to Krishna were completed by the crew of the Krishna in just 5 weeks. She would again go to Nam Can to complete her original mission. A few days later Krishna again came under sapper attack, but the addition of swimmers lights, suggested by MR2 Edward Barth before the first attack, while in dry dock enabled the security watch to spot the sappers and sound the alarm. Krishna was successfully defended that night.

Being the first of a total of (5) ARL’s to serve in Vietnam, Krishna continued to support the many RAG divisions, SEAL Teams and any other commands that had boats (except PBR’s) for the rest of 1970 and most of 1971, The final chapter of the Krishna was written in late 1971 under the command of LCDR R. W. Usborne. Krishna was ordered to proceed to Subic Bay where she was to be sold to the Philippine Navy. I’m sure that the spirit of the Krishna was not in agreement with this arrangement. After riding out a typhoon for two weeks, she was proceeding to moor alongside a LST, when one of the anchors contacted the side of the LST causing a 10′ crease.

The final sale and transfer of the Krishna took place on 30 October 1971. The Philippine Navy re-named the Krishna. As of 1993 she was still in the service of the Philippine Navy as the Narra (AR-88). The (5) ARL’s That served in Vietnam were USS Satyr (ARL-23), USS Sphinx (ARL-24), USS Askari (ARL-30), USS Indra (ARL-37), and USS Krishna (ARL-38).

Awards earned during the Vietnam War: (4) Navy Unit Commendations, RVN Gallantry Cross with Palm, RVN Civil Action Medal, First Class, with Palm, RVN Campaign Medal with 60’s device and the Vietnam Service Medal with (10) Battle Stars.

Thanks to all the ARL Sailors out there for a job well done…..Albert Moore