USNS Spica (T-AFS-9)

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Name: USNS Spica
Ordered: For the Royal Navy as RFA Tarbatness (A-345)
Builder: Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., Wallsend-On-Tyne, United Kingdom
Laid down: 1 April 1965
Launched: 1 February 1967
Acquired: purchased by the U.S. Navy, 1 November 1981
In service: 1 November 1981, as USNS Spica (T-AFS-9)
Out of service: 26 January 2008
Honors and
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
Fate: Turned over to the Navy at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for disposal.
General characteristics
Class and type: Sirius-class combat stores ship
Tonnage: 6475 deadweight tonnage
Displacement: 10,205 tons
Tons burthen: 16,680 tons
Length: 523 ft (159 m) o/a
Beam: 72 ft (22 m)
Draft: 26 ft (7.9 m) (max.)
Propulsion: 1 × diesel engine, 11,520 bhp (8,590 kW), single propeller
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h)
Complement: 123 Civilian, 47 Navy
Armament: None
Aircraft carried: 2 × UH-46 Sea Knight helicopters

The USNS Spica (T-AFS-9) was a combat "stores" ship acquired by the U.S. Navy in 1981. The Spica served the Navy fleet until she was deactivated in 2008.

Built in England

The Spica, originally known as RFA Tarbatness (A345) was built at Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., Wallsend-On-Tyne, England, for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. She was laid down on 1 April 1965 and was launched on 1 February 1967.

Purchased by the U.S. Navy

The Spica was purchased by the U.S. Navy, and was then placed into service as a combat supply ship on 1 November 1981 as the USNS Spica (T-AFS-9), a unit of the Military Sealift Command (MSC), MSC Naval Auxiliary Force.


The Spica’s mission was to provide underway replenishment in support of naval forces by providing refrigerated supplies, dry supplies, spare parts, general supplies, fleet freight, mail, and replacement personnel by alongside or by vertical replenishment processes.

Operational history

There is no current operational history on Spica.

Honors and awards

Qualified USS Spica personnel are authorized the following medals:


There is no journal entry on Spica (T-AFS-9) at DANFS.


  • Photo gallery of USNS Spica (T-AFS-9) – ex-RFA Tarbatness (A-345) at NavSource Naval History