Builder: Consolidated Steel Corporation, Orange, Texas
Commissioned: 1 January 1943
Disposition: Lost in action on Omaha Beach, 6 June 1944
Length: 158' 6" oa
Beam: 23' 3"
Draft: 2' 8" (forward), 5' 3" (aft -- beaching condition)
Displacement: 216 tons (light); 234 tons (beaching condition); 389 tons (full load)
Propulsion: 8 x GM diesels; twin shafts (4 diesels per shaft); 1,600 hp; twin variable-pitch propellers
Range: 4,000 @ 12 knots
Top Speed: 15.5 knots
Complement: 3 officers, 21 enlisted
Cargo capacity: 75 tons
Initial armament: 4 x 20mm (single-mount): 1 forward, 1 amidships, 2 aft; 2 x .50 caliber; 2" plastic splinter armor on gun shields, conning tower, and pilot house.
LTJG Coit Hendley, USCGR
History: Flotilla 4 / 10, Group 29, Division 57
The Coast Guard-manned USS LCI(L)-85 was commissioned on 1 January 1943. She was assigned to LCI(L) Flotilla 4. After undergoing shakedown and training exercises, she sailed across the Atlantic in company with the other LCI(L)s of the flotilla and participated in the North African occupation in Tunisia, from 1 June to 9 July 1943. She then landed troops during the invasion of Sicily on 9 July 1943 and the landings at Salerno on 9 September 1943.
She then sailed for England as part of the same flotilla, now renamed Flotilla 10, in preparation for the invasion of Normandy. Her commanding officer was LT(jg) Coit Hendley, USCGR. After undergoing training exercises throughout the spring of 1944, she landed troops on Omaha Beach on the morning of 6 June 1944. She was severely damaged by enemy fire and mines as soon as she landed. Hendley later stated: "The 88's began hitting the ship, they tore into the compartments and exploded on the exposed deck. Machine guns opened up. Men were hit and men were mutilated. There was no such thing as a minor wound." She retracted off the beach and sailed offshore to the Samuel Chase (APA-26) where she off-loaded the wounded before she capsized. She was then sunk with a mine. Fifteen soldiers aboard were killed in action, and approximately 30 soldiers and four of the LCI(L)-85's crew were wounded. Hendley's "After-Action" report reads as follows:
1. This is a report of the action of the USS LCI (L) 85 during Operation Neptune.
2. The USS LCI(L)L 85 sank on 6 June 1944 at approximately 1430 about 10 miles off the coast of France as a result of a teller mine exploding under the bow and shellfire suffered while landing troops on the beach assaulted by Assault Force "0". All ship's personnel were saved.
3. LCI (L) 85 arrived at the transport area with the other ships attached to Assault Force "0" and circled in the LCI collecting area until times to make the run into the beach. The ship was scheduled to hit Omaha Beach, sector Easy Red, at K plus 120 which made it at 0830 on 6 June 1944. At 0820 we arrived at the line of departure. The primary control vessel for Easy Red beach called to us by loud hailer and told us to go into the beach at this point. As a result of the strong tide running along the beach, the control vessel had drifted until it was almost past Easy Red beach. We actually landed in the left flank of Easy Red or the right flank of Fox Green rather than the right flank if Easy Red as scheduled.
4. We grounded at 0830 and put out both ramps. The water was too deep for the troops to wade ashore so we retracted both ramps and began to back off the beach. As the anchor was secured, something hit the aft winch causing her to stop running. There were no LCVP's in sight to help unload so we went about a hundred yards to the right and made another beaching.
5. This beaching was made without the anchor as the winch would not start. As the ship grounded a teller mine exploded under the bow splitting the void tank. The port ramp went down and the troops began going ashore. Shells and machine gun fire began to hit us. About fifty troops got down the port ramp before a shell hit it and blew it off the sponsons and over the side. As the starboard ramp had not gone down and the wounded men were jamming the deck, we backed off the beach again.
6. A check revealed that we had approximately 15 dead and 30 wounded men all in the forward part of the ship. We had been hit approximately 25 times by shells. Fire was starting in troop compartments 1, 2, and 3. Water was coming in slowly from shell holes below the water line and the hole made by the mine. No hits had been suffered from the engine room aft.
7. We backed off the beach and stood off about 200 yards. The damage control party began fighting the fire and within 30 minutes had them out. In compartments 1 and 2 the fire had been bunks, blankets, etc. burning. In compartment 3 oil from a punctured fuel tank was also burning.
8. As we were carrying several Army and Navy doctors and our pharmacists' mates, the wounded received immediate care.
9. All but about 30 of the troops that were able to go ashore were sent in by LCVP. We could not get enough to complete unloading, so we proceeded to the USS SAMUEL CHASE to unload the casualties. We went along the CHASE about 1200. We had a bad list from the water in the compartments forward.
10. The damage control party was making an attempt to pump out the water with three Pacific Pumpers but it was not too successful. The strainers on the pumpers would clog up after five minutes running and would have to be cleaned.
11. By 1330 , all the wounded and dead were transferred to the CHASE. We backed away from her and were taken in tow by the AT 98. We had such a bad list that the tugboat captain and I decided to try to pump the water rather than make the beach.
12. The attempt was unsuccessful and the LCI (L) 85 capsized about 1430.
The crew scrambled on board the tug before she went over. She turned slowly on her side and then bottom up immediately. A demolition charge was put in her stern and she then went down completely.
13. Casualties to the crew were four men wounded. These men were placed on the CHASE for treatment.
14. Confidential publications and confidential material on board was on the bridge in a weighted sack and went down with the ship in 14 fathoms of water.
Lt. (jg) Coit Hendley USCGR
The LCI(L)-85 earned four battle stars for her service in World War II. All LCI(L)s of Flotilla 10 were retroactively awarded the Coast Guard Unit Commendation for their service in the invasion of Normandy.
LCI(L) file, Coast Guard Historian's Office.
United States Coast Guard. The Coast Guard At War. V. Transports and Escorts. Vol. 2. Washington: Public Information Division, Historical Section, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, May 1, 1949, pp. 117-130.