USNS Mission De Pala (T-AO-114)

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USNS Mission De Pala
Name: USNS Mission De Pala
Laid down: 10 June 1943
Launched: 25 August 1943
Commissioned: 23 November 1943
Decommissioned: 4 December 1957
Struck: 13 March 1958
Fate: Rebuilt as Missile Range Instrumentation Ship, USNS Redstone (T-AGM-20), 1964-?
General characteristics
Class and type: Mission Buenaventura-class oiler
Displacement: 5,532 long tons (5,621 t) light
21,880 long tons (22,231 t) full
Length: 524 ft (160 m)
Beam: 68 ft (21 m)
Draft: 30 ft (9.1 m)
Speed: 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph)
Complement: 52
Armament: None

SS Mission De Pala was a Type T2-SE-A2 tanker built for the United States Maritime Commission during World War II. After the war she was acquired by the United States Navy as USS Mission De Pala (AO-114). Later the tanker transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service as USNS Mission De Pala (T-AO-114). She was a member of the Mission Buenaventura-class oiler and was named for Mission San Antonio de Pala in in eastern San Diego County, California.

Service history

World War II, 1943–1946

Mission De Pala was laid down on 26 November 1943 under a Maritime Commission contract by Marine Ship Corporation, Sausalito, California; launched on 28 February 1944, sponsored by Mrs. Francis D. Malone; and delivered on 22 April 1944.

Chartered to Pacific Tankers Inc. on 22 April for operations, she spent the remainder of the war carrying oil and fuel to allied forces overseas, in the Pacific (during which time she was three times awarded the Navy Battle "E" Ribbon as well as the National Defense Service Medal). Returned to the Maritime Commission on 28 May 1946, she was laid up in the Maritime Reserve Fleet at Mobile, Alabama.

NTS/MSTS, 1947–1949

Acquired by the Navy on 22 October 1947 she was designated Mission De Pala (AO-114) and placed in service with Naval Transportation Service (NTS). Taken over by the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) on 1 October 1949 she was designated USNS Mission De Pala (T-AO-114). Her service with MSTS was brief and on 23 December 1949 she was returned to the Maritime Commission and laid up in the Reserve Fleet at Orange, Texas.

Korean War, 1950–1954

When the Korean War broke out, there was an urgent need for logistics support vessels, especially tankers, so on 21 July 1950 Mission De Pala was reacquired by the Navy and placed in service with MSTS on the same date. The tanker spent most of the war shuttling between Korea, Pearl Harbor, and the west coast of the United States carrying fuel overseas. Transferred to the Maritime Administration on 15 November 1954 she was laid up in the Maritime Reserve Fleet at James River, Virginia. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 22 June 1955.

MSTS, 1956–1958

Reacquired by the Navy on 6 July 1956 she was placed in service with MSTS and operated, under charter, by Marine Transport Lines, Inc., until 13 March 1958 when she was again returned to the Maritime Administration and laid up in the Maritime Reserve Fleet at Orange. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on the same date.

Conversion to instrumentation ship, 1964–

Once again the call to service came and on 19 September 1964 the Mission De Pala was reacquired for the Navy for conversion into a missile‑range instrumentation ship. Converted at General Dynamics Quincy Shipbuilding Division, Quincy, Massachusetts she was "jumboized" by having a 72‑foot section added amidships, an extensive array of electronic equipment was installed and a nest of antennas added topside. Essentially the ship was virtually rebuilt in order to prepare her for her new role. While under conversion, she was renamed and redesignated Johnstown (AGM-20) on 8 April 1965, but she was renamed Redstone on 1 September 1965. Upon completion of conversion, she was accepted on 30 June 1966 by MSTS, for service as USNS Redstone (T-AGM-20). Designed for use as a seagoing tracking station for the Apollo program test series and moon shot, into 1969, she continued these duties and played her part in helping fulfill the late President John F. Kennedy's pledge to land a man on the moon before 1970.

The ship's final disposition is unknown.


This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

USNS Redstone (T-AGM-20) underway, date and place unknown.
USNS Redstone (T-AGM-20) moored pierside, date and place unknown.