USNS Huntsville (T-AGM-7)

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Career (USA)
Name: USNS Huntsville
Namesake: Cities in Alabama and Texas. The first Huntsville retained her former merchant name.
Builder: Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation. Portland Oregon
Laid down: 2 March 1945 as SS Knox Victory, Victory Ship type (VC2-S-AP3) hull
Launched: 13 April 1945
Sponsored by: Mrs. Charles B. Gilbert
Acquired: by the Navy, 11 August 1960
In service: 1961
Out of service: date unknown
Renamed: USNS Huntsville (T-AGM-7) in 1960/1961
Refit: as a Missile range instrumentation ship at Triple "A" Machine Shop, Inc., San Francisco, California
Struck: 8 November 1974
Fate: sold by MARAD, 17 July 1995
General characteristics
Type: Watertown-class missile range instrumentation ship
Tonnage: 5,498 tons
Length: 455'
Beam: 62'
Draft: 29'
Propulsion: steam turbine, single screw, 8,500shp
Speed: 17 knots
Complement: 49 personnel
Armament: none

USNS Huntsville (T-AGM-7) was a Watertown-class missile range instrumentation ship acquired by the U.S. Navy in 1960 and converted from her Victory ship cargo configuration to a missile tracking ship, a role she retained for a number of years before being struck from the Navy list in 1974.

Victory ship constructed in Oregon

The second ship to be so named by the Navy, Huntsville was laid down under U.S. Maritime Commission contract as Knox Victory by Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, Portland, Oregon, 2 March 1945; launched 13 April 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Charles B. Gilbert; and delivered to the War Shipping Administration (WSA) 11 May 1945.

World War II-related service

During the remainder of the war she operated as a merchant ship under charter to Olympic Steamship Company, and she continued merchant service under bareboat charters from the Maritime Commission and the Maritime Administration until 1958 when she entered the National Defense Reserve Fleet at Olympia, Washington.

Conversion to missile tracking ship

Knox Victory was acquired by the Navy from the Maritime Administration 11 August 1960 and assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS). She was renamed Huntsville and designated T-AGM-7, a missile range instrumentation ship, 27 November.

After conversion to a special projects ship by Triple "A" Machine Shop, Inc., San Francisco, California, Huntsville began duty as a range tracking ship in 1961.

Manned by a civilian crew, Huntsville operated out of Port Hueneme, California, and Honolulu, Hawaii, while assigned to special duties in the Pacific Ocean. During the next 4 years she made intermittent "on station" patrols in the Central Pacific, extending from the coast of Mexico to Wake Island and the Marshall Islands. She continued these patrols, which contributed mightily on America's space programs, until the spring of 1965; then she entered Avondale Shipyards, Inc., Westwego, Louisiana, 2 June 1965 for conversion, completed 30 October 1966.

1966 upgrade

In June 1967 Huntsville returned to the Pacific, where she operated with Watertown (T-AGM-6). As an improved sea-based tracking station, she provided an important link in communications during the scheduled "Apollo" moon shots, which were designed to send American astronauts to the moon and back.


Huntsville was place out of service on an unknown date, and was struck from the Navy list on 8 November 1974. She was placed in the National Defense Reserve Fleet and eventually sold by MARAD on 17 July 1995. Her subsequent fate is not known.