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Ship Name and Designation History

This section lists the names and designations that the ship had during its lifetime. The list is in chronological order.

    Benawah Class Self-propelled Barracks Ship
    Authorized as Barracks Ship, Non-self propelled (APL) December 17 1943
    Reclassified Barracks Ship, Self-propelled (APB) August 7 1944
    Keel Laid August 24 1944 - Launched November 17 1944
    Named March 14 1945

    Commissioned September 19 1945 - Decommissioned June 18 1947
    Recommissioned October 12 1951 - Decommissioned February 17 1956
    Recommissioned May 11 1968 - Decommissioned January 7 1970

  2. USS MERCER IX-502
    Reclassified Miscellaneous Auxiliary (IX) November 1 1975

  3. MERCER IX-502
    Placed In Service November 1 1975 at US Naval Ship Repair Facility, Sasebo Japan

  4. MERCER APL-39
    Reverted to Barracks Ship, Non-self propelled (APL) March 7 2002
    APL-39 is part of the CincPacFlt Berthing and Messing Program and is berthed at SRF Det. Sasebo, Japan


Naval Covers

This section lists active links to the pages displaying covers associated with the ship. There should be a separate set of pages for each incarnation of the ship (ie, for each entry in the "Ship Name and Designation History" section). Covers should be presented in chronological order (or as best as can be determined).

Since a ship may have many covers, they may be split among many pages so it doesn't take forever for the pages to load. Each page link should be accompanied by a date range for covers on that page.

  1. Covers Page 1    (1946-69)



This section lists examples of the postmarks used by the ship. There should be a separate set of postmarks for each incarnation of the ship (ie, for each entry in the "Ship Name and Designation History" section). Within each set, the postmarks should be listed in order of their classification type. If more than one postmark has the same classification, then they should be further sorted by date of earliest known usage.

A postmark should not be included unless accompanied by a close-up image and/or an image of a cover showing that postmark. Date ranges MUST be based ONLY ON COVERS IN THE MUSEUM and are expected to change as more covers are added.
>>> If you have a better example for any of the postmarks, please feel free to replace the existing example.


Postmark Type
Killer Bar Text

Date From
Date To
Thumbnail Link To
Postmark Image
Thumbnail Link To
Cover Image

1st Commissioning September 19 1945 to June 18 1947


Locy Type
2 1945


As APB-39
Patriotic cover.


Locy Type


As APB-39
Mother's Day

2nd Commissioning October 12 1951 to February 17 1956


Locy Type
2 1951


As APB-39
Special Delivery, sailor mail.


Locy Type


As APB-39


Locy Type


As APB-39

3rd Commissioning May 11 1968 to January 7 1970


Locy Type
FDPS 2(n+)


As APB-39
First Day of Postal Service. Additional postmark from Long Beach CA dated May 14 1968.


Locy Type
2(n+) (USS)


As APB-39


Other Information

MERCER earned 4 Battle Stars for Vietnam service

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons...
Presidential Unit Citation - Naval Unit Commendation - American Campaign Medal - World War II Victory Medal - National Defense Service Medal - Vietnam Service Medal (4) - Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation (3) - Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation - Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

Individual Awards...
Combat Action Ribbon (crew members attached spring 1969)

NAMESAKE - Named for counties in Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia



If you have images or information to add to this page, then either contact the Curator or edit this page yourself and add it. See Editing Ship Pages for detailed information on editing this page.


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