The USS Barbour County (LST-1195) was laid down on 15 August 1970 at San Diego, California, by the National Steel & Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 15 May 1971; sponsored by Mrs. J. Victor Smith; and commissioned at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard on 3 February 1972, Comdr. John G. Schimming in command.
Assigned to Amphibious Squadron (PhibRon) 7 and based at Long Beach, the tank landing spent the remainder of 1972 engaged in those activities that transform a new ship into a seasoned unit of the fleet. First, she took several weeks to complete her fitting out at Long Beach. Then, in mid-April, she embarked on her first real voyage, a round-trip cruise to Esquimalt on Canada's western coast. Upon her return to the California coast, Barbour County inaugurated a period of intense training that culminated in the successful completion of her final contract trials in August. Late in September, the tank landing ship made a voyage to Callao, Peru, from which she did not return to Long Beach until 20 October. Barbour County concluded her extended shakedown training in November and commenced post-shakedown availability at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard on 10 December.
Those repairs occupied her well into the first month of 1973. She resumed local operations by putting to sea for refresher training on 26 January. The ship busied herself with such local training alternated with long periods in port at Long Beach until the summer of 1973 when she was chosen to join with Fort Fisher (LSD-43) in a training cruise to the Far East for Naval Academy and NROTC midshipmen. At the beginning of the second week in June, Barbour County sailed south to San Diego where she embarked the midshipman and then set out for the Orient immediately. During the two-month cruise, she visited Pearl Harbor, Yokosuka, and Hong Kong before returning to Long Beach on 3 August.
Upon her return, she received the somewhat disappointing news that she was to head back to the Orient in seven weeks for a full deployment in the place of another tank landing ship which had suffered a major engineering casualty. The ship departed Long Beach on 20 September, refueled at Pearl Harbor on the 26th, and made her first port of call in the western Pacific on 10 October at Mindoro Island in the Philippines where she spent two days loading a contingent of marines and equipment for transportation to Iwakuni, Japan. Foul weather, however, forced a diversion to Subic Bay after which she resumed the voyage to Japan. During the latter part of October, Barbour County's itinerary included Okinawa, Yokosuka and Numazu. On the 29th, she cleared the latter port on her way to Guam where she spent the two weeks between 2 and 19 November in upkeep. From Guam, the tank landing ship headed back to the Philippines. She arrived in Subic Bay on 21 November and remained there until the 27th when she departed for Okinawa. She returned to Subic Bay on 7 December and stayed in the area through the end of the year.
Barbour County began 1974 with a visit to Hong Kong, departing Subic Bay on 2 January and arriving at her destination on the 4th. On the 9th, she headed back to Subic Bay where she spent the period 11 to 20 January. The ship put to sea again on the 20th for an emergency contingency operation in the Gulf of Siam, Operation "Eagle Pull," during which she stood by off the Cambodian coast ready to evacuate Americans and other foreigners from the capital, Phnom Penh, in the event of a communist takeover. When the danger passed (at least for the moment) in mid-February, the ship steamed back to Subic Bay, arriving there on the 15th. A week later, she embarked on the voyage back to the United States. Barbour County entered her new home port, San Diego, on 14 March.
Following a month of relative inactivity pierside in San Diego, the ship recommenced local operations off the California coast on 16 April. Those assignments involved a variety of training missions but usually focused on some aspect of amphibious warfare from normal troop landings to clandestine insertions. Such duty occupied her time through the summer months and into September. At that time, Barbour County set out on a four-week cruise to Canadian waters. During the latter part of September and early October, she took part in Exercise "Potlatch 1," a bilateral amphibious exercise with Canadian forces carried out at the northern end of Vancouver Island. After a visit to the city of Vancouver itself at the conclusion of the operation, the ship steamed back to San Diego where she arrived on 15 October. Local operations out of San Diego, largely refresher training, occupied her attention for the remainder of the year.
Barbour County remained so engaged for the first three months of 1975 as well. On 1 April, however, she deployed to the western Pacific once again, getting underway from San Diego in company with Tuscaloosa (LST-1187) and two South Korean minecraft. The imminent collapse of South Vietnam, under pressure from the combined forces of North Vietnam and the Viet Cong, imparted an urgency to her passage that limited her fuel stop at Pearl Harbor to a matter of hours on the 6th and her cargo discharge at Okinawa to a similarly brief duration on the 18th and 19th. Another short stop came at Subic Bay in the Philippines on the 21st; but by the last week of April, Barbour County joined the American naval forces off the coast of South Vietnam to participate in Operation "Frequent Wind," the evacuation of Americans, other foreigners, and some South Vietnamese from Saigon on 29 and 30 April. Once she secured from Operation "Frequent Wind" in May, the tank landing ship settled into a normal employment schedule of troop lifts and amphibious exercises. That duty frequently took her to Okinawa, Taiwan, and Subic Bay in the Philippines. She also called at a number of Japanese ports and made liberty stops at Hong Kong. In August, Barbour County added the Marianas to her itinerary, calling at both Guam and Tinian before returning to Subic Bay at the beginning of September. After a final round-trip voyage to Okinawa and back in mid-September and three weeks of local operations out of Subic Bay, the ship got underway on 15 October to return to the United States. She steamed by way of Okinawa and Pearl Harbor, and arrived back in San Diego on 16 November.
The usual post-deployment standdown occupied the next four weeks and a brief resumption of normal operations out of San Diego bridged the short interlude before the annual holiday standdown brought her year to a close. She took up training evolutions in southern California waters once again in January 1976, and she remained so employed until early April. Barbour County did not put to sea after 9 April. Instead, she stayed in port preparing for overhaul, which began officially with her entry into the yard at San Diego Marine Corp. on 12 July. That overhaul took up the remainder of 1976 and the first three months of 1977. She finally got underway again on 4 April 1977 and resumed normal operations out of San Diego soon thereafter.
Refresher and type training in California coastal waters kept Barbour County busy through the spring and summer of 1977. Her focus changed somewhat in August when she set about preparations for another assignment overseas. On 13 September Barbour County departed San Diego on her way to the western Pacific again. She stopped at Pearl Harbor overnight on 20 and 21 September and then resumed her voyage west. Steaming via Eniwetok and Guam, the ship reached Buckner Bay, Okinawa, on 6 October. The tank landing ship carried out training missions in the vicinity of Okinawa until late October when she sailed to Japan. She visited Iwakuni from 31 October to 2 November before shifting via Kinred Beach to Yokosuka where she arrived on the 7th. Barbour County spent the rest of November at Yokosuka; but, at the beginning of December, she moved to Numazu briefly before taking departure for Chinhae, Korea. After passing the week between 5 and 12 December at Chinhae, the ship steamed south for a brief call at Subic Bay before heading to the Malay Peninsula for the holidays.
She celebrated Christmas at Singapore and rang in the New Year at Phattaya, Thailand. On 6 January 1978, Barbour County departed Phattaya to return to Subic Bay. She operated out of Subic Bay in the waters nearby for about a month, leaving for Japan on 8 February. The ship reached Iwakuni on 15 February. During the last half of the month she made two round trips between Japanese and South Korean ports, visiting Pohang on the first voyage and Pusan on the second. She concluded the second trip at Yokosuka and spent most of March in or near that port. On 28 March, she departed Yokosuka and headed via Kinred Beach to Numazu where she arrived on 4 April. The next day, Barbour County left Numazu and set a course back to the United States. Along the way, she made an overnight stop at Pearl Harbor on 17 and 18 April before arriving in San Diego on the 27th. Following the usual post-deployment standdown, the ship embarked upon a normal routine of west coast training missions in late spring. Such employment occupied her attention until late August, at which time she began seven weeks in port for repairs. Barbour County completed that lengthy availability earl in the second week of October and resumed training operations out of San Diego. She remained so employed for the rest of 1978.
Barbour County began 1979 preparing for refresher training which lasted from 22 January to 11 February. The remainder of February was filled with leave, schools ashore and last minute preparation for another tour of duty in the Far East. The tank landing ship embarked on that assignment on 1 March. She stopped in Hawaii from the 9th to the 17th, participating in and amphibious exercise at Kahoolawe Island between the 12th and 14th. Barbour County's Amphibious Squadron (PhibRon) 7 relieved PhibRon 3 at Eniwetok Atoll on 25 and 26 March and then resumed the voyage to the western Pacific. After a stop at Buckner Bay, Okinawa early in April, she arrived in the Philippines on the 10th. Over the next two days, the ship took part in a loading and landing exercise at Zambales. She then put into port at Subic Bay and remained there until 20 April when she got underway for Singapore. Relaxation dominated the next few weeks. Barbour County made a port call in Singapore from 25 to 29 April. Then, after a five-day passage, she made another liberty stop at Phattaya Beach, Thailand between 4 and 9 May. The ship then headed back to Subic Bay where she arrived on 14 May for 10 days of upkeep.
During the last week of May, she took part in a major amphibious assault exercise, MAULEX 2-79, at Botollon in the Philippines. After a port call at Manila which occupied the first four days in June, the ship returned to Subic Bay for nine days of upkeep. On 14 June, she got underway for Hong Kong. In port at Hong Kong from 16 to 25 June, Barbour County acted as a support ship for Los Angeles (SSN-688) during the period between the 17th and the 21st, providing all power and water services to the submarine moored alongside.
From Hong Kong, Barbour County steamed to Okinawa where she began a series of loading and landing exercises which lasted from 27 June to 2 July and which were carried out at such locations as Buckner Bay, Kinred and Numazu. Still another loading exercise followed on 1 July. Between 2 and 9 July, Barbour County made the passage from Japan to Guam, where she spent the last three weeks in July carrying out an availability. On 6 August, she returned to Okinawa where she took part in another loading exercise. Exercise "Fortress Gale" began on 7 August and lasted until the 25th. The rest of August, she spent in Buckner Bay and Orawan. Relieved of her western Pacific responsibilities by PhibRon 5's Bristol County (LST-1198) at Okinawa on 31 August, On 1 September, the ship set out to return to the United States.
She stopped at Pearl Harbor from 11 to 13 September and reentered San Diego on 21 September.
After a three-week post-deployment standdown period, Barbour County began preparations for sea again on 22 October. Between 22 and 26 October, she steamed from San Diego to San Francisco for a three-day port call. She returned to San Diego on 2 November and remained there until the 14th. From 14 to 21 November, she participated in READEX 1-80 during which she served as launch platform for the airborne and waterborne target drones used in the exercise. She spent the period from 21 November to 9 December in upkeep at San Diego. Then, after a brief period at sea for drills and type training in the local operating area between 10 and 13 December, Barbour County passed the rest of the year in San Diego for the holidays.
Barbour County's inactivity continued well into 1980. Except for two short trips in port early in March, she remained stationary alongside the pier at San Diego until the end of the first quarter. The ship finally got underway again on 31 March at which time she resumed a normal schedule of drills and type training. For the next two months, the tank landing ship pursued a normal routine of training at sea alternated with periods in port at San Diego for upkeep. After a week in port, Barbour County left San Diego on 9 June on her way to Portland, Oreg., for the 1980 Rose Festival. On 12 June, she ascended the Columbia and Willamette Rivers to Portland where she remained until returning to sea on 16 June for the passage to San Diego. Barbour County arrived back in San Diego on 20 June and remained in port until late July. On 21 July, she resumed intermittent local operations in which she alternated a few days at sea engaged in training missions with time in port in upkeep. That employment lasted until the beginning of September at which time the began another long period in port preparatory to deployment overseas.
Six weeks later, on 14 October, Barbour County deployed to the western Pacific with PhibRon 7 composed of Barbour County, Peoria (LST-1183), Point Defiance (LSD-31), Ogden (LPD-5), St. Louis (LKA-116), and Tarawa (LHA-1). Her unit stopped in Hawaii for several days during which she and her squadron mates participated in an amphibious exercise conducted at Kahoolawe Island. She and her unit then resumed their voyage west. On 6 November, Barbour County joined with St. Louis and Tarawa to form Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) "Alpha" and changed operational control to that of the Commander, 7th Fleet. She arrived in Subic Bay on 15 November but left again on the 17th to take part in an amphibious exercise at Mindoro Island conducted between 19 and 24 November. Following another three weeks of upkeep at Subic Bay, Barbour County returned to sea on 15 December and, after carrying out a naval gunfire support exercise at nearby Leon Creek, set a course for Phattaya Beach, Thailand, in company with Tarawa and St. Louis. She spent almost a week at Phattaya Beach, from 22 to 27 December, before moving on to Singapore where she arrived on the 30th. The tank landing ship remained in port at Singapore through the end of 1980.
On 5 January 1981, the ARG transited the Straits of Malacca for contingency operations in the Indian Ocean. On the 11th, Barbour County crossed the equator and steamed west to Mombasa, Kenya, mooring there six days later. Following a short port visit, the landing ship moved north to Diego Garcia where her embarked marines carried out a landing exercise between 28 and 30 January. The ships then sailed east to Australia, arriving in Fremantle on 8 February. The tank landing ship got underway for Okinawa on 6 March. Just before arriving off that island, a female stowaway was discovered in the ship. Within three hours, she was removed by helicopter to Command Fleet Activities, Okinawa, for further disposition. Despite the interruption, Barbour County anchored off White Beach, Okinawa, for an amphibious landing exercise on the 9th.
The tank landing ship then shifted north into the East China Sea and anchored in Pohang harbor, South Korea. She spent the next week participating in exercise "Team Spirit." On 20 March, Barbour County turned for home and, after a stop in Sasebo, arrived in Hawaii on 7 April. After dropping the marine AAVs off Kaneohe Point, she put into Pearl Harbor to refuel. Leaving two days later, the ship finally returned home to San Diego on 16 April.
After six weeks of upkeep and local operations, the tank landing ship embarked five marine AAVs for a visit ship display scheduled for San Francisco. Underway in company with Ogden (LPD-5), Barbour County steamed to San Francisco on 1 June, mooring there on the 5th. Nearly 2,000 people toured the ship over the next three days. She then dropped the AAVs off Camp Pendleton before returning to San Diego on the 12th. The ship then spent July preparing for a regular overhaul, which began at the Triple A South Shipyard in San Diego on 5 August and continued through the end of the year.
With overhaul work complete on 31 March 1982, Barbour County spent the month of April conducting sea trials and independent steaming exercises in the southern California operations area. On 10 May, she sailed north to Bremerton, Wa., where she participated in the annual Armed Forces Day celebration on the 16th. Returning to San Diego on the 21st, the ship spent the next ten weeks conducting refresher training and readiness evaluations.
On 6 August, Barbour County departed San Diego for a northern Pacific cruise. While en route to Hawaii, the tank landing ships' crew rescued three people from a foundering sailboat. After dropping them off in Hawaii on the 12th, the ship embarked surveillance personnel for an intelligence gathering mission to Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka. Underway on the 14th, Barbour County steamed into the northern Pacific and conducted two weeks of special operations off Kamchatka between 23 August and 7 September. Following a short break in mid-September, during which she visited Adak and Attu in the Aleutians, she finished up surveillance operations on 28 September. During this cruise, the crew sighted numerous Soviet submarines, aircraft, and surface warships. They returned to San Diego, via Seattle, on 17 October. Aside from a short period of amphibious refresher training in early December, she spent the rest of the year in port.
On 30 January 1983, Barbour County deployed to the western Pacific deployment in company with New Orleans (LPH-11), Durham (LKA-114), Schenectady (LST-1185) and Denver (LPD-9). After stopping in Hawaii for two days of boat exercises, the unit crossed the Pacific and arrived in Subic Bay on 22 February. While in port there on 1 March, Barbour County suffered a small fire that damaged her degaussing cables. A damage control party from Hull (DD-945) helped the tank landing ship's crew put out the fire.
Departing the Philippines later that day, Barbour County sailed to Okinawa where she embarked a marine landing support battalion. Steaming on to South Korea on the 9th, the ship conducted boat operations, helicopter flight operations, and bow ramp beaching during Exercise "Team Spirit-83" off Tok Sok Ri. After returning the marines to Okinawa on 22 March, Barbour County sailed south to Hong Kong for a week of liberty. Underway 31 March, she steamed to the Philippines for a week of upkeep in Subic Bay.
In a change of pace, Barbour County sailed south to Indonesia on 11 April, arriving in Surabaya on the 16th. While there, she conducted mutual training exercises with ships of the Indonesian Navy, including underway replenishment, signal drills, and formation maneuvers. Proceeding southeast to Australia soon thereafter, the tank landing ship moored at Fremantle on 26 April. Like her previous visit, Barbour County participated in Exercise "Valiant Usher;" landing AAVs, conducting flight quarters and gun fire drills. After a post-exercise visit to Bunbury between 2 and 8 May, she sailed back to the Philippines and arrived in Subic Bay on 22 May.
Barbour County put to sea again on 31 May and sailed north to Okinawa for an amphibious landing exercise in early June. On the 15th she moved to Yokosuka, for ten days of upkeep, before heading for home. After steaming across the Pacific, she arrived in San Diego, via Pearl Harbor, on 14 July. Aside from two short readiness exercises, the tank landing ship remained in port in an upkeep and training status. On 19 September, she began a restricted availability at the Naval Station that lasted through the end of the year.
Underway 26 January 1984, Barbour County spent five weeks conducting individual ship drills and amphibious refresher training with marines from Camp Pendleton. In late March, her engineering departments began training for service inspections. She moved alongside Ajax (AR-6) for last minute engine repairs on 13 April. Departing San Diego on the 23d, the tank landing ship moved to the Silver Strand Amphibious Boat area for her final week of pre-deployment refresher training. A sign of the troubles to come were two small fires that broke out that day; one in an air conditioning compressor and another in an ice machine motor.
Despite high winds and heavy seas, she conducted two days of difficult beaching and bow ramp exercises on the strand. Late in the afternoon on 25 April, Barbour County began her last planned beaching operation. Unfortunately, while trying to retract, the ship swung to starboard, jammed her rudders in the sand and, by 1838, she was fully broached in the surf. Damage control parties ballasted the ship down to reduce wave damage for the night. The following day, fleet tugs Quapaw (ATF-110), Narragansett (ATF-167), and rescue vessel Florikan (ASR-9) towed Barbour County off the beach. To add insult to injury, while moored at San Diego, the tank landing ship suffered a major fire in the bosun's locker on 2 June.
Following a series of temporary repairs and inspections, Barbour County was towed to San Pedro on 16 October to commence a major yard period at the Todd Pacific Shipyard. These repairs included new hull plating, engines, and steering gear as well as numerous electronics upgrades. The tank landing ship began sea trials on 4 June 1985 and, after successful completion moved to San Diego on the 22d. Many months of refresher training were required to get the ship back into shape, however, and these exercises were not complete until early November when she finished her last week of amphibious landing operations.
After spending December in a pre-deployment stand-down, Barbour County put to sea on 11 January 1986 for her first western Pacific deployment in two and a half years. Joined by New Orleans (LPH-11), Vancouver (LPD-2), and Alamo (LSD-33), the tank landing ship crossed the Pacific and headed toward Subic Bay. Although briefly delayed outside territorial waters by election violence in the Philippines, the ships entered Subic Bay on 9 February. Proceeding on to Hong Kong ten days later, the ships ran into heavy seas and Barbour County suffered heavy wave damage to the starboard bulwark on her foc'sle. Repeated rolls up to 53 degrees injured eight crewmen. After arriving at Hong Kong, the crew received a week of well-appreciated liberty before steaming back to Subic Bay on the 28th.
Underway 2 March, the amphibious ships sailed north to Okinawa—where they embarked marines and AAVs—and proceeded on to Pohang, South Korea, on the 12th. There, the ships participated in "Team Spirit" amphibious landing exercises at Tok-sok-ri until 30 March when they steamed back to Okinawa. After unloading marines, Barbour County sailed back north and moored Naval Facility, Sasebo, Japan, on 6 April. Following almost two weeks of upkeep, she then returned to the Philippines.
Once there, she rendezvoused with Vancouver and Mobile and proceeded on to Singapore where the tank landing ship received a mini-repair availability at the Sembawang shipyard starting on 26 April. The three ships got back underway on 4 May and sailed north for a five-day visit to Pattaya Beach, Thailand. After departing the city, Barbour County sailed out of the Gulf of Thailand and, after spotting sinking boats, rescued 45 Vietnamese refugees in a position about 100 miles off the coast of Vietnam on 12 May. These refugees were later transferred to camps in the Philippines.
On 26 May, the tank landing ship steamed to Okinawa for exercises, arriving there on 10 June. She spent the next week participating in Exercise "Valiant Usher" in Ourawan Bay before sailing east for Exercise "Beach Guard" at Iwo Jima on 28 June. She sailed for home two days later and arrived in San Diego on 16 July. After a period as PhibRon Seven flagship, Barbour County began a repair availability in San Diego on 6 October.
On 25 February 1987, the tank landing ship got underway for sea trials, finishing those and other tests by mid-March. The ship then conducted local operations out of San Diego through May. On 1 June, Barbour County conducted a live fire Stinger missile shoot in the Southern California operating area. After a short period of preparation, the tank landing ship embarked marines and commenced a month-long training cruise to Alaska on 22 June. The ship visited Ketchikan for the first five days of July before returning home to San Diego on the 20th. There, she prepared to escort three minesweepers to the Middle East in keeping with President Reagan's decision to protect oil tanker traffic in the Persian Gulf.
Barbour County put to sea on 22 August and, after rendezvous with Enhance (MSO-437), Esteem (MSO-438), and Conquest (MSO-488), the tank landing ship towed the minesweepers to Pearl Harbor, arriving there on 1 September. While in port, a rescue and assistance detail went to Conquest to help put out a small fire on the 4th. Underway the next day, Barbour County began escorting the three minesweepers, as well as Salvor (ARS-25), to the Philippines. While en route, Conquest collided with the tank landing ship during a refueling evolution. Although damage to Barbour County was minor, the minesweeper suffered more and turned back to Pearl Harbor. The remaining ships continued steaming west and arrived in Subic Bay on the 26th.
Departing the Philippines on 5 October, Barbour County and minesweepers sailed southwest to Singapore, passed through the Strait of Malacca on the 13th, and sailed into the Indian Ocean. The ship refueled alongside Kansas City (AOR-3) on the 25th before passing through the Straits of Hormuz on 28 October. After detaching the minesweepers, the tank landing ship moored at Manama, Bahrain, on the 31st.
On 3 November, Barbour County sailed for home, passing through the Straits of Hormuz and steaming across the Arabian Sea. The tank landing ship anchored in Patong Harbor, Phuket, Thailand, on the 15th for a three-day port visit. Moving on to Subic Bay in late November, the tank landing ship sailed south for a cruise through the South Pacific. She stopped at ports in Manus, New Britain, and at Brisbane before ending the year moored in the Royal Navy dockyard in Sydney, Australia.
Departing Sydney on 6 January 1988, Barbour County cruised north and stopped at several ports in the Solomon Islands to provide disaster relief following the passage of a typhoon through the area. Following port visits at Tonga and American Samoa in late January, the tank landing ship arrived at Pearl Harbor on 7 February. She sailed on to San Diego three days later and arrived there on the 17th.
Resuming local operations soon thereafter, Barbour County spent the next seven months conducting several exercises off San Clemente Island and undergoing two service inspections as well as training and readiness evaluations. On 21 September, she entered the National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. for repairs and remained there through the end of the year. Although the tank landing ship finished her post-overhaul shakedown cruise on 3 February 1989, she spent another four months carrying out training drills and service inspections.
In preparation for another western Pacific deployment, Barbour County loaded a "Hawk" antiaircraft missile battery before getting underway on 5 June. She embarked marines from the 1st Expeditionary Brigade at Pearl Harbor on the 13, proceeded west across the Pacific and arrived at Okinawa on 1 July. The tank landing ship spent the next four weeks operating there, and in the Philippines, and carrying out several landing evolutions during Exercise "Valiant Usher." In August, Barbour County sailed southwest to Singapore for a visit, which was followed by stops at Phuket, Thailand and Lumut, Malaysia. Returning north in September, she participated in Exercise "Valiant Blitz" off South Korea between 14 October and 1 November. Departing Okinawa on 14 November, the tank landing ship arrived home in San Diego on 5 December.
Following a post deployment stand down and leave period, Barbour County resumed local operations out of San Diego. These included marine landing exercises at Camp Pendleton and a small boat exercise at San Clemente Island. On 25 May, the tank landing ship embarked seven Coast Guard members for Law Enforcement Operations (LEO) off southern California. These lasted until 7 June, when the ship moored in San Francisco harbor for three days of liberty. Returning to San Diego on 14 June, Barbour County entered the National Steel and Shipbuilding Co on the 25th for a three-month availability.
While in the shipyard, Barbour County's crew heard of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on 2 August and President George W. Bush's decision to roll back the attack. Completing the availability on 12 October, the tank landing ship immediately began preparations to deploy to the Middle East. Departing San Diego on 1 December, she sailed west and, after a stop at Pearl Harbor, ended the year at Subic Bay. Underway on 2 January 1991, Barbour County passed through the Straits of Malacca three days later and shifted to Central Command's operational control on 12 January. On the 17th, following the start of air operations in Operation "Desert Storm," the tank landing ship took up a position off Oman. She took part in Exercise "Sea Soldier IV" on 26 January, launching and recovering 12 amphibious vehicles near Masirah anchorage. The tank landing ship also operated off Fujirah until putting into Dubai for upkeep on 9 February.
Barbour County put to sea on short notice on 20 February due to imminent start of the ground war. While steaming west toward Al Jubayl, 250 marines landed on the ship via helicopter. Anchoring off Al Mishab on the 25th, the tank landing ship began unloading those troops and equipment to support ground war operations. Upon completion, she moved back to sea, refueled and awaited developments. Following the sweeping victory in Kuwait, the ship returned to Al Mishab on 2 March and began reloading troops and equipment. She spent the next four weeks cruising in the Persian Gulf on contingency operations. On 7 May, the tank landing ship sailed east into the Arabian Sea.
On 12 May, Barbour County received word of a destructive typhoon in Bangladesh and was ordered to sail there to provide disaster relief. Anchoring in the Bay of Bengal on 15 May, the ship conducted two weeks of flight operations in support of Operation "Sea Angel." Steaming east on 28 May, the tank landing ship passed through the Straits of Malacca on 2 June, refueled at Subic Bay five days later and, after another stop at Pearl Harbor on 21 June, arrived at San Diego on 30 June. Following a stand down period, the tank landing ship resumed local operations out of San Diego.
In mid-October, Barbour County underwent a service inspection and, shortly thereafter, received notice of the ships planned decommissioning. The tank landing ship began inactivation procedures on 2 December and, after a restricted availability the following spring, Barbour County was decommissioned at San Diego on 30 March 1992. She was later towed to the Naval Inactive Ship Facility at Pearl Harbor for possible transfer to a foreign navy. Planned loans to both Venezuala and Malaysia did not take place, however, and the tank landing ship was struck from the navy list on 13 July 2001 and then sunk as a target on 6 April 2004.