USNS Vela (T-AK-89)

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Career (US) 100x35px
Ordered: MV Charles A. Ranlett
N3-M-A1 hull, MC hull 652
Laid down: 5 June 1944
Launched: 15 January 1945
Sponsored by: Mrs. Elbert Bradford Ferguson
Commissioned: Never commissioned, transferred to Army two days after launch
In service: as USNS Vela (T-AK-89) 12 June 1952
Out of service: date unknown
Struck: 8 February 1945
Fate: Transferred to the U.S. Army 17 January 1945 renamed Joe C. Specker, transferred U.S. Navy's Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) 11 June 1952 as USNS Vela (T-AK-89), sold for scrapping, 23 November 1970
General characteristics
Displacement: 1,677 t.(lt), 5,202 t.(fl)
Length: 269 ft 10 in (82.25 m)
Beam: 42 ft 6 in (12.95 m)
Draught: 20 ft 9 in (6.32 m)
Propulsion: Diesel, single shaft, 1,300shp
Speed: 10 kts.
Notes: The ship was under Navy supervision during construction, transferred to Army upon delivery to Navy and underwent extensive modifications for operation by the Corps of Engineers as a port repair ship. Subsequent Naval service was as unarmed, civilian crewed USNS Vela (T-AK-89).

Vela (AK-89) was never commissioned and thus never bore the USS designation.[1]. The ship was transferred to the Army to become the Engineer Port Repair Ship Joe C. Specker shortly after launching. She was one of two such repair ships transferred to Navy in 1952 and served as the civilian crewed, unarmed USNS Vella (T-AK-89).


The ship was a Maritime Commission type N3-M-A1 cargo vessel hull (MC hull 652) and was assigned the name MV Charles A. Ranlett. Her construction was transferred to Navy supervision on 1 January 1943 and she was subsequently laid down as Vela (AK-89) on 5 June 1944 at Camden, New Jersey, by the Penn-Jersey Shipbuilding Corporation.[2] The ship was launched on 15 January 1945 sponsored by Mrs. Elbert Bradford Ferguson.

Transfer to Army

Two days after launch, on 17 January 1945, the ship was transferred to the U.S. Army for conversion into the Engineer Port Repair Ship Joe C. Specker for operation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rehabilitating war damaged ports. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 8 February 1945. The Army named her for Medal of Honor recipient Joe C. Specker of the 48th Engineer Combat Battalion.

Unlike most port repair ships the Joe C. Specker, among the last two ships (See: Marvin Lyle Thomas) converted and seeing no actual war service as a port repair ship, spent seven postwar years in Army service before transfer Navy.[3]

Transfer To Navy

On 11 June 1952, Vela was transferred to the MSTS and placed in service at Baltimore, Maryland the following day and was reinstated on the Navy list on 22 August. She operated out of New York through 1958, ranging from Canadian coastal waters to the Caribbean on supply missions.

Later transferred to the Maritime Administration and placed in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, she was berthed in the Hudson River until she was sold on 23 November 1970 to Hierros Ardes, S.A., Spain, and scrapped.


  1. | Navy History & Heritage Command - Ship Naming in the United States Navy
  2. | Shipbuilding History: Penn-Jersey Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden NJ
  3. Grover, David (1987). U.S. Army Ships and Watercraft of World War II. Naval Institute Press. pp. 133–137. ISBN 0-87021-766-6. )

This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

External links