As World War Two entered the fifth year of battles and bloodshed, a little-known event of some pride to the citizen of Sherburne County unfolded in the naval yards of California. Although unreported in Sherburne County newspapers, on July 10, 1944, the Navy officially launched the cargo ship the USS Sherburne, (APA 250) named for Sherburne County, Minnesota.
The Navy designed the Sherburne as a Haskell class transport ship, built to haul 1500 troops and their combat equipment to areas of the Pacific Theatre. After its launching and shakedown exercises, the Sherburne sailed from California to Hawaii, and destinations throughout the Pacific. Her crew sailed to Guam and the Philippines before taking part in the Battle of Okinawa in May and June 1945. The Sherburne ended the war in Yokohama, witnessing the surrender of Japan.
As a Haskell class ship, the Sherburne was designed to move rapidly through ocean waters, relying on speed to avoid submarine attacks. Armed with 40 mm and 20 mm guns provided the ship with defense against air attack.
With the conclusion of the war, the Sherburne briefly served as part of operation Magic Carpet, to rapidly return troops to the United States. By 1946 her service was transferred to the Maritime Administration until 1969. That year the Navy recommissioned and refitted the Sherburne as a range instrumentation ship. Renamed the USS Range Sentinel, she served until 2012 when she was scrapped.
Although seemingly insignificant in the greater history of the war, the USS Sherburne served with some honor. From the initial launching in 1944, until her scrapping in 2012 the ship gave the county a unique position of pride in twentieth century history. The ship was recognized with a battle star for service in the assault on Okinawa. With maximum speed over 17 knots, the crew of 500 officers and naval personnel hauled cargo of 1500 to the battle fronts of the Pacific Theatre in the final year of World War Two. One of only a few ships to continue service through the remainder of the century the simple cargo ship warrants greater recognition.