Friday, September 07, 2007

WWII Ship On Its Way To Vallejo

WWII Ship On Its Way To Vallejo
Last Of War's Historic 'Mighty Midgets' Begins Voyage Home
By SARAH ROHRS/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

The H.T.M.S. Nakha was loaded onto a massive cargo ship so it could be shipped to its new home along the Vallejo waterfront. (Courtesy photo)

After months of preparations, the last of the World War II "Mighty Midgets" has left Thailand and is on its way to its new home along Vallejo's Mare Island waterfront, the leader of a veterans group said Wednesday.

The landing craft support ship is scheduled to arrive Sept. 25 in Benicia where a tugboat will take it to Mare Island, said Bill Mason, chair of the veterans group devoted to the vessels.

"The ship is on its way," Mason said. "It's pretty exciting."

The ship has served the Royal Thai Navy for more than 40 years as the H.T.M.S. Nakha. It was originally named USS LCS (L) (3) 102.

The Mare Island Historic Park Foundation plans to accept the ship and turn it into a museum and memorial to those who fought on Pacific fronts during World War II.

A ceremony to mark the ship taking up permanent residence on Mare Island is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 10.

The Nakha is traveling aboard a gigantic cargo ship across the ocean, Mason said. It left on Tuesday and is expected to take 21 or 22 days to arrive in Benicia.

Mason and other LCS veterans have labored to bring the ship to the United States for the last 10 years.

Jason Keadjian, Lennar Mare Island spokesman, said the exact location for the ship has not yet been determined.

"We are working cooperatively with the group on a lease agreement for the Nakha to be berthed on an interim basis on Mare Island," Keadjian said. A lease agreement could be finalized as early as today or Friday, Mason said.

The veterans group, called the National Association of

USS LCS (L) 1-130, has gotten Navy clearance, but is still waiting for the state Department of Toxic Substances Control and other state agencies to sign off, Mason said.

The ship will be berthed on an interim basis until it is transferred to the foundation and more permanent berthing arrangements are made, Mason said. The facilities agreement between the city and the foundation designates several spots for historic ships on the former Naval base.

Long anchored at Bangkok, the Thailand Royal Navy transferred the Nakha to the veterans group May 22, at the Rayong Sattahip Naval Base. The ship served nine months in World War II, and was transferred to Japan after the war. In 1966, it went to Thailand.

Contact Sarah Rohrs at or 553-6832.

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