USNS Range Tracker (T-AGM-1)

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USNS Range Tracker (T-AGM-1)
Career (USA)
Name: USNS Range Tracker
Namesake: A ship or shore-based radar system which follows the progress of missiles, space vehicles, and satellites
Builder: Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, Portland, Oregon
Laid down: 6 April 1945, as Skidmore Victory, type (VC2-S-AP3) hull, MCV hull 685
Sponsored by: Mrs. Harry C. Bates
Acquired: by the U.S. Air Force in the late 1950s
In service: 12 July 1960 as USNS Ranger Tracker (T-AG-160)
Out of service: 27 September 1969, at Port Hueneme, California
Reclassified: T-AGM-1, 27 November 1960
Refit: Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation, Pascagoula, Mississippi, (modified as a tracking ship)
Struck: 28 April 1970
Homeport: Port Hueneme, California
Fate: sold for scrapping, 10 July 1970
General characteristics
Type: Range Tracker-class missile range instrumentation ship
Displacement: 4,512 tons
Tons burthen: 11,500 tons
Length: 455' 3"
Beam: 62' 2"
Draft: 28' 6"
Propulsion: cross compound steam turbine, single screw, 8,500shp
Speed: 15.5 knots
Complement: 56 personnel
Armament: none

USNS Range Tracker (T-AGM-1/T-AG-160) was an Air Force Systems Command Range Tracker-class missile range instrumentation ship. She was acquired from the National Defense Reserve Fleet in the 1950s and converted into a missile range tracking ship with a civilian crew. She performed tracking duties from 1961 through 1969 on the Western Launch and Test Range.

Built in Portland, Oregon

Range Tracker (AGM-1) was laid down 6 April 1945 by Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation as Skidmore Victory (MCV hull 685); launched 19 May 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Harry C. Bates; delivered to Northland Transportation 18 June 1945; and later served American President Lines as President Buchanan.

Placed into service as a tracking ship

She was taken out of the National Defense Reserve Fleet in the late 1950s and converted by Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation, Pascagoula, Mississippi, into a complex electronics center; named Range Tracker and designated AG-160 on 12 July 1960; reclassified AGM-1 on 27 November 1960; and placed in service in May 1961.

A mobile tracking platform for recording data on missiles and satellites that are out of range of established land stations, Range Tracker was homeported at Port Hueneme, California, on the Pacific Missile Range from June 1961 to 1969.

She was operated by the Military Sea Transportation Service with a civilian crew.

Tracking astronauts

USNS Range Tracker's inertial navigation system monitored astronaut Gordon Cooper's 22-orbit space flight during July 1963.

Out of service

In 1969, when the Air Force Systems Command no longer needed Range Tracker, she was placed out of service at Port Hueneme 27 September 1969; transferred to the U.S. Maritime Administration 12 November 1969; and laid up at Suisun Bay. On 10 July 1970, she was sold to American Ship Dismantlers, Inc., for scrapping.

See also