Riverside County is rich in military history. Our military installations, like March Field and the Naval Surface Warfare Center are well known, if not by civilians then in our military circles. But our naval history is not as top of mind. How many of you knew that the Department of the Navy actually named a ship after Riverside County? Her name was the USS Riverside or APA 102.

She was a Bayfield Class attack transport. During World War II she and her crew delivered troops to the battle front and recovered wounded troops from the battlefields. She served our Navy in the vast Pacific Ocean.

While a transport, she was also well-armed with two, single 130 mm gun fore and aft, two twin 40 mm anti-aircraft guns, and 18 single 20 mm anti–aircraft gun mounts. It is likely Riverside County residents served aboard the USS Riverside. She had a crew of 43 officers and 108 enlisted members. At 8,100 tons she was no lightweight. She was just shy of 500 feet long. Like many ships built during World War ll, she was built — or laid down —in Mississippi in 1942 and launched in 1944.

The USS Riverside had a brief war-service record. She and her crew had the honor of serving as the Flagship for Taskforce Squadron 41. The USS Riverside served exclusively in the Pacific Theatre. She passed through the Panama Canal, sailed to Pearl Harbor, and made multiple runs from Pearl Harbor to California carrying patients and cargo. She carried troops to Okinawa. Guam, Hagushi, Philippines, and even Korea.

USS Riverside

USS Riverside

She was twice tasked with “Operation Magic Carpet” runs. These runs were after the end of World War II and were bringing American fighting troops home to family and friends. The USS Riverside ended her valiant service with the United States Navy when her name was struck from the Navy list on May 8, 1946. After being struck from the Navy records she was sold and roamed the seas as a transport ship until she sunk in 1968.

It is unclear exactly how the Unites States Navy decided to honor Riverside County with a ship. It is possible that having the Navy’s ship building offices headquartered in Riverside County may have helped the cause. No one knows for sure.

The County of Riverside, in 2014, officially asked the Secretary of the Navy to honor us again with the naming of another ship in honor of Riverside County. No response to date has been received. To be fair, only transport ships are named after counties and the Navy is building many of those transport ships today.

For those interested in seeing a large-scale scale model of the USS Riverside, you will have to visit the County Administrative Center in Riverside at 4080 Lemon Street. The USS Riverside is located in the Military and Veteran Conference Room on the fourth floor. Since late 2014 this conference room honors the USS Riverside, Medal of Honor recipients who called our county home, two former presidents, and all who served, past, present, and future in our military.

If you or a family member was a crew member of the USS Riverside or you were among troops taken to or from combat zones aboard the USS Riverside we would like to hear from you. Email tsfreeman@rivco.org

Image Sources

  • USS Riverside: NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive
  • USS Riverside partial crew: NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive