USS Mars (AFS-1)
|USS Mars (AFS-1)|
|Namesake:||The borough of Mars in Butler County, Pennsylvania|
|Builder:||National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, San Diego, California|
|Laid down:||5 May 1962|
|Launched:||15 June 1963|
|Commissioned:||1 December 1963|
|Decommissioned:||19 February 1998|
|Struck:||24 May 2004|
|Navy Unit Commendation and 11 campaign stars (Vietnam)|
|Fate:||Sunk as a target, 15 July 2006|
|Class and type:||Mars-class combat stores ship|
9,200 long tons (9,348 t) light|
15,900–18,663 long tons (16,155–18,962 t) full load
|Length:||581 ft (177.1 m)|
|Beam:||79 ft (24.1 m)|
|Draft:||27 ft (8.2 m)|
|Propulsion:||Steam turbine, 1 shaft|
|Speed:||20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)|
• 4 × 3"/50 caliber guns (2×2) (originally 6)|
• Chaff launchers
• 4 × M240G 7.62×51 mm medium machine guns or M249 5.56×45 mm light MG
• 1 M2 12.7×99 mm heavy machine gun when security detachment is embarked
|Aircraft carried:||2 × MH-60S Knighthawk helicopters|
USS Mars (AFS‑1), the third United States Navy ship to bear the name, was laid down by the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego, California, on 5 May 1962; launched on 15 June 1963, sponsored by Mrs. Clyde Doyle, widow of Representative Clyde Doyle of California; and commissioned at Long Beach Naval Shipyard on 21 December 1963, with Captain Russel C. Medley in command.
Mars was the first of a new class that was intended to replace three types of supply ships: the AF (Store Ship), AKS (Stores Issue Ship), and AVS (Aviation Supply Ship). Two innovations were Boeing UH‑46 helicopters and an automatic highline shuttle transfer system to make a rapid transfer of supplies possible. To speed replenishment processing, Mars became the first ship in the Pacific Fleet to be equipped with a UNIVAC 1104 computer system.
Assigned to Service Squadron 1, Mars left San Diego on 16 March 1964 for Acapulco, Mexico, for shakedown, returning to San Diego on Easter Sunday. On 1 September she departed for the western Pacific, arriving at Yokosuka, Japan, on the 23rd. With Yokosuka as home port, the combat storeship operated from the Philippines to the South China Sea through the rest of the year.
Mars continued through the next three years to provide logistic support to the far-ranging 7th Fleet at sea, especially off Vietnam, while revisiting the South Pacific ports of Hong Kong; Sasebo, Japan; and Subic Bay, Philippines. Typical of the combat storeship's supply activities was a night vertical replenishment of USS Canberra while the heavy cruiser was fighting off Vietnam, her 8-inch guns on the engaged side fired in support of troops ashore. Mars had taken an especially active part in similar operations in South Vietnam. She set several replenishment records in 1967 and 1968, and into 1969 continued to play an important role in the fleet operations in the Southeast Asia area.
She underwent extensive overhaul from late August 1971 through April 1972 in Richmond, CA, receiving naval distillate fuel burning boilers, upgraded electronics, etc. She was then immediately deployed to the South China Sea to support the Seventh Fleet and Marine Amphibious forces after the increased Vietnam war activity that spring. She returned to her homeport of Alameda, CA, that December; her homeport was then moved to Sasebo, Japan during April 1973. From April 1973 through the end of 1974, Mars continued replenishing the ships of the western Pacific and made two trips to the Indian Ocean to support the US Navy patrolling the Persian Gulf area.
Mars participated in PACEX '89 with port visits to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, Pusan, Korea, Yokosuka, Japan and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Mars was decommissioned from naval service on 1 February 1993, at Naval Station Treasure Island, San Francisco, CA, and was placed in service by the Military Sealift Command (MSC) as USNS Mars (T-AFS-1).
On 19 February 1998, Mars was placed out of service by the Military Sealift Command and laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet, Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Pearl Harbor, HI, (Maintenance Category "B").
Mars was struck from the Naval Register on 24 May 2004, and retained as a logistics support asset (Maintenance category "L") at Pearl Harbor.
Mars final disposition was as a torpedo target during RIMPAC 2006 exercises. She was sunk off Hawaii on 15 July 2006. Mars rests in 2,750 fathoms (5,000 m) of water some 54 nautical miles (100 km) from the coast.
In April 2006, the bell of the Mars was donated to the small borough of Mars, Pennsylvania as a memorial. The ship was named after the Western Pennsylvania community. U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, and former crew members were present at the ceremony, and helped to dedicate the large brass bell to the ship's namesake.
- This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- Official Home Page of the USS/USNS Mars (AFS/TAFS-1) Reunion Association
- navsource.org: AFS-1 Mars
- Video of sinking of ex-USS/USNS Mars