Archive for Schenectady

The USS Schenectady

Today I saw that the USS Schenectady has a facebook page (!/pages/USS-Schenectady/68478434203).

Inspiration for USS Schenectady

The USS Schenectady was a Newport Class Tank Landing Ship named after Schenectady, New York. As part of a class-wide writing assignment, a letter, written by Franklin School fourth-grader Kimberly Duto in 1968 asked “Would it be possible to name one of the ships – Schenectady” after the students learned that a new series of ships were being constructed for the NAVY. This letter began a 34-year connection between the ship and the community it was named after.

Schenectady’s Industries Help to Build Ships

According to “On the Line with MAC Motors (v2,n15 May 1, 1970),” a newsletter for employees in the Medium AC Motor Department of General Electric, the name of the ship was not the only thing Schenectady contributed, “…the locomotive and engine products division of Alco Products, with headquarters in Schenectady, was manufacturing 153 engines for LST’s (Landing Ship-Tanks) in their Auburn Plant and General Electric was manufacturing part of the mechanism to propel the crafts.” GE’s SAC (small AC motor department) made motors for deck machinery and the MAC (medium AC motor department) manufactured 51 750 kw service generators according to “Schenectady GE News, v53, n18, 1790”. Also constructed by General Electric for the LSTs were:
* winch controllers and motors
* electrical pump controllers
* a bow thruster motor
* propeller pitch control hydraulic pump
* reduction gear standing lube oil pump
* main reduction gears
* a reduction gear-shaft turning gear
* a reduction gear-salt water circulating pump

The USS Schenectady Launched 1969

The USS Schenectady was built by National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego, California. The keel was laid on August 2, 1968, and launched May 24, 1969. Schenectady Mayor Malcolm E. Ellis was the principal speaker at the commissioning ceremonies of the USS Schenectady on June 13, 1970, in San Diego. He recounted the 300 year history of our city. He alongside commanding officer Cdr. David Sigsworth, offered a proclamation to the crew. Many gifts from the citizens of this area were presented to the ship and her crew. Recreation equipment, books, flags, a bronze plaque, a silver tea service and other presents were donated to the USS Schenectady.

LST’s (Landing Ship-Tanks)

LST’s, Landing Ship-Tanks, were ocean-going ships which could be beached to discharge heavy equipment and troops. They were first used in the Solomon Islands during World War II. There were 1052 built during the war. The USS Schenectady was an entirely revolutionary design in amphibious landing ships. A 35 ton bow ramp supported by two derrick arms replaced the traditional bow doors of WWII LSTs. A stern gate permitted back loading, and the new destroyer type bow allowed speeds over 20 knots. Seventeen of these newly designed ships were built in San Diego in the early 1970s.

USS Schenectady’s Career of Service

The USS Schenectady had an active career of service. Early in its career it escorted NAVY ships to the Panama Canal. During the Vietnam War, the USS Schenectady served in the following campaigns:

Vietnamese Counter offensive – Phase VII
23 to 26 May 1971

Consolidation II
12 to 9 December 1971
5 to 7 January 1972
6 to 10 February 1972
15 to 17 February 1972
21 March 1972
24 to 26 March 1972

Vietnam Ceasefire
1 April to 7 May 1972
22 May to 11 June 1972
23 June to 15 July 1972

Earning three campaign stars for its efforts during the war.


T-shirt from the decommissioning of the USS Schenectady

USS Schenectady’s Final Mission

The USS Schenectady was decommissioned on December 15, 1993. Struck from the Naval Register on July 13, 2001, the USS Schenectady’s final mission was its sinking as a target by by B-52’s, B-1’s, F-15’s along with FA-18’s during SINEX – Exercise Resultant Fury 19, 21-22 November 2004.

The former Navy landing ship (tank) USS Schenectady is seen in the waters of the Pacific Ocean just west of Hawaii Tuesday just prior to her sinking by B-52 bombers, including one that flew directly from Barksdale Air Force Base, in Operation Resultant Fury.

“The USS Schenectady has been shot at, bombed, been beached a thousand times, and she’s been there on time ready for work. Schenectady is a dependable, trustworthy work horse of the fleet. She’s hauled thousands of Marines hundreds of thousands of miles, with hundreds of thousands of tons of equipment aboard, and she’s done so admirably…many countries have special memories of Schenectady, sailors coming to orphanages and working hard to bring happiness to homeless crippled children. Our men have told the story of your area more times then we can count to people from around the world…we have been proud to represent your city”

Ltgj L.M. Barney, Public Affairs Officer, USS Schenectady

USS Schenectady’s Awards

Combat Action Ribbon, NAVY “E” ribbon, NAVY Expeditionary Ribbon
National Defense Service Medal (2)
Vietnam Service Medal (2)
Southwest Asia Service Medal (2)
Humanitarian Service Medal
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
(Gold Star)
Republic of Viet Nam Campaign Medal

For more information on the ship and its history check out:


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 This item from the collection is a hand forged, wrought iron cloth rule marked on the front side with the Dutch or Flemish Ell and on the back with the English Yard. The initials T.B.B. are for Thomas Brower Banker (1729-1807). Thomas was a blacksmith in Schenectady in the second half of the 18th century. The date 1768 is the year in which it was forged. The word MART is the middle Dutch word for market. The word marked on the side for the yard, GERT, is most likely a phonetic middle Dutch spelling for the old English word for yard, which was spelled gierd.DSCN1310

  The Dutch or Flemish Ell was 27inches, or 12nails, and was used to measure a few types Dutch linens that were known as Hollands. The English also used the Dutch Ell and continued to use it even after it was prohibited by the imperial measure act of 1824.

  Thomas B. Banker was born in 1729 and was the grandson of Gerit banker, the second mayor of Albany, and one of the original patent holders of Schenectady. Thomas married Anna Mabee in 1754. Anna was the niece of Abraham Mabee, who was a blacksmith in Schenectady in the first half of the 18th century. It seems very likely that Banker either apprenticed with or worked as a journeyman for Abraham Mabee. Banker also served as a Captain in the Second Albany Militia during the revolution serving at the battle of Saratoga and in both the Schoharie and Mohawk valley’s. Thomas and Anna are buried in Vale Cemetery.DSCN1304

  It seems that Thomas was named after one of the early Dominie’s of Schenectady. His father and uncle were in charge of calling a new pastor for Schenectady and called a young man from Holland. His name was Thomas Brower. He died unmarried, in 1728 and left part of his estate to Johannes Banker, who was Thomas Bankers father. About a year before Thomas Brower Banker was born.  

  Thomas Banker is also mentioned in this quote from Jeptha Simms book, History of Schoharie County published in 1837. The following quote is attributed to Rynier Gardinier.

  The following anecdote originated at Schenectada during the Visit of Gen. Washington. He was walking on a public street in company with Brower Banker (Capt. Banker), a respectable citizen, and blacksmith by trade, when an old negro passing took off his hat and bowed to him: the great commander immediately returned the compliment. Banker expressed his surprise that his companion thus noticed this descendant of Ishmael, observing it was not the custom of the country thus to notice slaves. “ I cannot be less civil than a poor negro,” was his manly reply, as they proceeded onward.      

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