USNS Range Recoverer (T-AG-161)

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Name: USS Range Recoverer
Namesake: A ship stationed in the anticipated landing area of a space vehicle
Builder: Wheeler Shipbuilding Corporation, Whitestone, New York
Laid down: date unknown
Completed: for the U.S.Army in 1944 as FS-278
Acquired: by the Navy April 1960
In service: 22 June 1960 as USNS Range Recoverer (T-AG-161)
Out of service: 1972
Reclassified: 27 November 1960 as Missile Range Instrumentation Ship (T-AGM-2); as Range Tender YFRT-524 (date unknown)
Refit: Pacific Ship Repair, San Francisco, California (as missile tracker)
Struck: date unknown
Fate: sold for scrapping, 1 November 1974
General characteristics
Type: missile range instrumentation ship
Tonnage: 550 tons
Tons burthen: 935 tons
Length: 176' 6"
Beam: 32'
Draft: 11' 5"
Propulsion: Diesel, two 500hp GE Diesel engines, twin screws
Speed: 10 knots
Complement: 24 personnel
Armament: none

USNS Range Recoverer (T-AG-161/T-AGM-2/YFRT-524) was a missile range instrumentation ship responsible for providing radar and/or telemetry track data on missiles launched from American launch sites.

She was built during World War II as U.S. Army USAT FS-278, and was acquired by the U.S. Navy in 1960 as miscellaneous auxiliary and was converted into a missile tracking ship. She continued her missile tracking until being placed out of service in 1972, at which time she was reclassified Range Tender YFRT-524, and eventually scrapped in 1974.

Built in New York for the U.S. Army

Range Recoverer (AG-161) was built for the Army in 1944 as FS-278 by the Wheeler Shipbuilding Corp., Whitestone, New York; acquired by the Navy in April 1960; converted by Pacific Ship Repair, San Francisco, California; and placed in service as AG-161 on 22 June 1960, Capt. John Strom in command.

Missile tracking activities

Named Range Recoverer on 12 July, she reported to the Pacific Missile Range in August 1960. On 27 November she was reclassified a missile range instrumentation ship and designated AGM-2. She is equipped with telemetry, data processing and radio instruments as well as recovery facilities to retrieve nose cones.

Manned by a Civil Service crew of the Military Sea Transportation Service, Range Recoverer served first as a telemetry and recovery ship on the Pacific Missile Range where she launched, tested, and evaluated the Regulus missile; then, in July 1962, shifted to Little Creek, Virginia, to support the NASA facility at Wallops Island, Virginia. There she replaced two T-1 tankers, Dumont and Whitlock, damaged during a storm.

Since that time, into 1970, Range Recoverer operated out of Little Creek primarily between Wallops Island and the splash down area near Bermuda.

Other services provided

NASA, assisting other government agencies, has also loaned Range Recoverer to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, to conduct oceanographic surveys off the coast of Virginia.

Final disposition

Range Recoverer was placed Out-of-service, 1972 and reclassified as a Range Tender YFRT-524. She was struck from the Navy list (unknown date) and sold for scrap 1 November 1974.

See also