Believe it or not, there has only been one boat, ship, or vessel registered with the name Bulloch County. It started out its career as just a number: L(anding) S(hip) T(ank) landing craft #509, part of the LST 491 class of transport vessels built for the United States Navy at the beginning of World War Two.
This particular vessel was built at the Jeffersonville Boat and Machine Company in Jeffersonville, Ind., in October of 1943. Originally Howard's Shipyard, what is now known as JeffBoat has been building tugboats, barges and Army landing craft since 1834 on the banks of the Ohio River.
More than 328 feet in length and 50 feet across, the 509 displaced more than 4,000 tons when fully loaded. It could hold 16 officers and 104 enlisted troops, along with one tank and several other wheeled vehicles. These vessels were armed with two 40 MM. gun batteries and 12 single 20 MM gun mounts.
Along with hundreds of its sister ships, the 509 carried American troops and vehicles in the invasion of Normandy's beaches in France. The 509 returned home after World War II, and along with many of the surviving LSTs, was used at home for various and sundry duties.
As war loomed likely in Vietnam, the 509 was renamed the Bulloch County in July 1955. After serving in the Vietnam conflict, the 509 was decommissioned on April 8, 1970, so it could be leased to the government of the Republic of Vietnam under the Security Assistance Program.
The vessel was renamed the RSVNS Qui Nhon (HQ-504). After America withdrew from Vietnam in 1975, the vessel continued to serve in the VPA Navy as the HQ-505. In 1988, the former Bulloch County was heavily damaged in a battle with the Chinese Navy.
The former Bulloch County tangled with the Chinese Navy's ship #531 (the Yingtang), an Air Defense Frigate, in the "Battle of South Johnson Reef." The VPA Navy attempted to save the HQ-505, but the vessel sank while being towed to the former American naval base at Cam Ran Bay. For its efforts, the 509 was rewarded with the title of "Vietnam Arm Forces Hero."
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at the area's historical past. Email Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.