Paul W. Lattimore, mayor of Auburn, presented gifts reflecting the pride of the citizens of Cayuga County, for which the vessel had been named.
Vancouver, British Columbia, was the ship's first destination. The Cayuga completed her sea trials on 31 October 1970, and was deployed to the Western Pacific in 1971, when she became the first ship in her class to launch Amphibious Assault Vehicles at maximum speed and the first ship in the United States Navy to conduct an extended dependent's cruise. On 24 May 1972, the Cayuga landed Marines in the Republic of South Vietnam during Operation Song Than 6-73, becoming the first Newport-class LST to participate in combat operations. The Cayuga earned two Battle Stars for Vietnam service. After a three-month tour in Vietnam, the Cayuga sailed for the Philippines, where she earned the Philippine Presidential Citation for disaster relief provided to the flood-ravished Pangasinan province. On 23 May 1973, the Cayuga delivered relief supplies to Nicaragua after that Central American republic's capital, Managua, was devastated by earthquakes. In January 1979, she patrolled the Western Caroline Trust Territory in January 1979. The ship rescued over eighty refugees from boats off the coasts of Thailand and Hong Kong in 1981. The Cayuga participated in combined training operations with the navies of Oman and Somalia in November 1982, and with the navies of Korea and Thailand in 1985, and with the navies of Thailand, Korea and Australia in 1987.
The USS Cayuga can be seen in two movies made in 1976, when it served as the stage for action scenes in Airport '77 and Grey Lady Down. She was decommissioned on 26 August 1994.