Cape Henlopen

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2014/03/09


“I was a  deckhand on her from 1999 to 2003, and a relief mate from 2004 to 2011.

 She’s a tough old boat.  327 ft long.  You could stand at one end on a rough day and watch it twist in the swells.   As you know she landed at Normandy on D Day as the LST 510.    One of a small group of LSTs that actually returned from From the invasion.  LSTs were built as throw away vessels that were never intended to come back, so it’s amazing that she did, and even more amazing that she is still working.

Last year we took the WW II Vets out for a wreath laying. The mate and I found a vet standing on the car deck.  We asked him if he was alright.  And he told us that this was the spot he was standing on when he heard a torpedo skid along the bottom of the hull.  It did not explode and just bounced off of the bottom of the boat.”


Name: USS Buncombe County (LST-510)
Builder: Jeffersonville Boat and Machine Company, Jeffersonville, Indiana
Laid down: 27 September 1943
Launched: 30 November 1943
Commissioned: 31 January 1944
Decommissioned: 1 July 1946

Displacement: 1,625 long tons (1,651 t) light
3,640 long tons (3,698 t) full
Length: 328 ft (100 m)
Beam: 50 ft (15 m)
Draft:   Unloaded : 2 ft 4 in (0.71 m) forward 7 ft 6 in (2.29 m) aft
Loaded : 8 ft 2 in (2.49 m) forward 14 ft 1 in (4.29 m) aft

Depth: 8 ft (2.4 m) forward 14 ft 4 in (4.37 m) aft (full load)
Propulsion: 2 × General Motors 12-567 diesel engines, two shafts, twin rudders
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Boats & landing craft carried: 2 LCVPs
Troops: Approximately 130 officers and enlisted men
Complement: 8-10 officers, 89-100 enlisted men
• 1 × single 3″/50 caliber gun mount
• 8 × 40 mm guns
• 12 × 20 mm guns

Now owned by Cross Sound Ferry Services.
Thank you, Birk, once crew of the lovely Cape Henlopen.
And thank you, Peconic Puffin, EastRiver, Tugster, Walt, Rembert & ODock for poetic contributions at the What Ship Is It game! Stay tuned next time for when someone has to post a ship and does not get back to finishing the ship nor naming it for over a week; you’re a great audience, thank you and good night!

7 Responses

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  1. tugster said, on 2014/03/10 at 05:51

    tanks . . . or thanks for the followup on this post. she’s had a long life for a “disposable . .” i love the story about the torpedo that scraped along the bottom and refused the order to explode.

  2. Rembert said, on 2014/03/11 at 05:10

    Difficult to imagine, that this merry ferry has been the depicted floating fortress 70 years ago. And crossed the atlantic two times!

    Coincidence: As the temperature suddenly jumped up to 20 degrees Celsius here, we cycled a little bit around Bonn on Sunday and had a first rest just outside the city at a little harbour. There I found a plate, to recall a sad chapter of the history of this even elder lady: It seems, that more soldiers died on board of that funny looking thing in WW II, than on LST 510. If Wikipedia delivers a reliable translation, you can learn a lot more about this unique vessel, still crossing the Rhine (try with “Goethe (Schiff)”). In a few weeks we will listen to her hoarse whistle again, the classic companion of sunny summer mornings.

  3. Thomas Steinruck said, on 2014/03/21 at 20:58

    I remember taking the Orient Point Ferries when they were unmodified LSTs. in the 1960s. The Cape Henlopen doesn’t resemble them much, she must have been extensively reconfigured. Wasn’t she one of the retired Cape May to Lewes ferries that were purchased in the 1980s for the MASCONY ferry service that was to run from the Greenport waterfront before small town politics reared it’s ugly head?

    • bowsprite said, on 2014/03/22 at 04:25

      Greenport Apparently Wins Legal Fight With Mascony Ferry Service .…
      Greenport apparently wins legal fight with Mascony ferry service . NEW LONDON – Long Island residents opposed to …

      Hmm! A link to a microfiche! I am still researching. Thank you!

  4. Thomas Steinruck said, on 2014/03/21 at 21:08

    The other thing that confuses me is that LSTs were “stern winders” the engine room, and house, including the bridge, were at the stern. The Cape Henlopen has a stack and wheelhouse forward of amidships.. When the converted it to a ferry they must have taken it down to the bare hull.

  5. […] Bowsprite drew it, so it drew me . . . I had to go see again, even though some years ago I’d ridden her.  If you look at her peers launched at JeffBoat in  late 1943 and early 1944, you’ll agree she’s a survivor. […]

  6. […] Lafferty for the Twintube story and photo.  I took the photos of Cape Henlopen in March 2014.  Here’s a version of the vessel by […]

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