RFA Stromness (A344)

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RFA Stromness
RFA Stromness (A344)
Career (UK) RFA Ensign
Name: RFA Stromness
Ordered: 7 December 1964
Builder: Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd, Wallsend
Yard number: 2017
Laid down: 5 October 1965
Launched: 16 September 1966
Fate: Sold to USA
Career (USA)
Name: USNS Saturn
Acquired: 1 January 1983
In service: 1 January 1983
Status: in active service, as of 2024
General characteristics
Class and type: RFA: Ness-class fleet stores ship
USA: 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: 8-cylinder Sulzer RD 76 turbocharged diesel engine, 11,520 bhp (8,590 kW) at 118 RPM, single propeller
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h)
Complement: RFA: 110 RFA + 50 Stores Working Party
USA: 123 Civilian, 47 Navy
Armament: 6x pintle mounts for M240B 7.62mm machine guns or Browning M2 12.7mm machine guns in MSC service. Guns not normally fitted
Aircraft carried: 2 × UH-46 Sea Knight or MH-60S Seahawk helicopters
Aviation facilities: Fitted with a flight deck but no hangar facilities until purchased by U.S. Military Sealift Command, hangar for 2 CH-46, MH-60 or Super Puma post-refit

RFA Stromness (A344) was a fleet stores ship which served the Royal Fleet Auxiliary until sold to the United States Military Sealift Command in 1983.


Originally known as RFA Stromness (A344), the vessel was built at Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd, Wallsend as Yard Nr 2017, United Kingdom, for the Royal Navy. She was laid down on 5 October 1965 and launched on 16 September 1966.

RFA operational history

In 1982 "STROM" saw service during the Falklands War, where she carried over 400 troops of 45 Commando Royal Marines to the beach landing in San Carlos Water.

Sale to the U.S. Military Sealift Command

In 1983 Stromness was sold to the United States Military Sealift Command. She was renamed Saturn and placed into service.

USMSC mission

Saturn is one of five combat stores ships operated by Military Sealift Command. She provides fuel, food, ammunition and ocean towing services to U.S. Navy ships around the world. Saturn carries virtually every type of food and supply needed by Navy ships. Saturn carries spare and repair parts for other ships and aircraft and also has a limited capability to transfer fuel to other Navy ships at sea. Supplies and fuel are transferred to other ships using lines and hoses suspended above the water to another ship as the ships move forward at the same speed and sometimes less than 50 feet apart.

USNS Saturn (T-AFS-10)

Saturn is capable of replenishing two ships at the same time, one on either side, using this side-by-side technique. Dry stores are also transferred by using helicopters to lift large cargo nets and pallets loaded with supplies and parts. Saturn has elevators and mobile equipment for handling stores internally on the ship. Helicopters are not assigned to Saturn on a full-time basis, but fly aboard for extended periods of time while the ship is at sea.

Civilian Mariners (CIVMARS) on board USNS Saturn are a vital part of the Military Sealift Command (MSC) Fleet. Their areas of expertise encompass a wide variety of occupations ranging primarily from the engineering, deck and supply departments. Current compliment is approximately 120 personnel. Tour lengths are 4 months in duration with an extension option available.

Enlisted ratings on board include Operations Specialists, Information Systems Technicians, Electronics Technicians, Personnelmen and Storekeepers. Current tour length for enlisted military members aboard Saturn is 12 months. Officers serve up to a two-year tour.

Saturn operational history

There is no current operational history for Saturn.


There is no journal entry on Saturn (T-AFS-10) at DANFS.

Honors and awards

Qualified Saturn personnel are authorized the following medals: