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USNS Kingsport (T-AG 164) on 25 January 1963.
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Class: KINGSPORT (T-AG 164)
Design: SCB Project No. 225, conversion of MC VC2-S-AP3
Displacement (tons): 7,190 light, 10,680 full
Dimensions (feet): 455' oa, 444' wl, 435' pp x 62' e/wl x 22'
Armament: none
Accommodations: 14 officers, 50 unlicensed, a 41-man Navy technical group and 15 civilian technicians
Speed (kts.): 15.2
Propulsion (HP): 8,500
Machinery: Geared steam turbines, 2 boilers (465psi/750deg), 1 screw

164KINGSPORT14 Nov 1961California SB4 Apr 194429 May 1944--

AGNameTOOSStrikeDisposalFateMA Sale
164KINGSPORTT22 Nov 198331 Jan 198423 Sep 1991MA/T30 Oct 1991

Class Notes:
On 20 July 1960 CNO requested a feasibility and cost study for a conversion of a Victory Ship to a Satellite Communication Ship for use by the US Army Satellite Communications Agency of the Defense Satellite Communications Program (project ADVENT). BUSHIPS developed a detailed plan for this conversion and for the Navy's participation in the Army's Project ADVENT, which CNO approved for planning purposes on 22 October 1960. The Army's ADVENT Management Agency accepted this plan and provided funds for contract design and advance procurement of long lead items for the conversion. In response BUSHIPS undertook as a matter of high priority the design and conversion of a MARAD Reserve Fleet VC2-S-AP3 Victory ship to a Satellite Communication Ship based on technical requirements obtained from the Army's ADVENT Management Agency. BUSHIPS advised that it felt that this conversion would not require Congressional approval as part of a shipbuilding and conversion program since it was being undertaken as part of a single research project funded with research funds. On 10 November 1960 BUSHIPS sought concurrence of CNO with these plans. Portions of "Detailed Specifications for Modification of Victory Ship Maritime Commission Design VC2-S-AP3 to Pacific Missile Range Tracking Ship AG(PMR)" were distributed within BUSHIPS to serve as a starting point for the design.

The mission of the Project ADVENT Ship was to provide a shipboard terminal for research and development tests with the ADVENT satellite communications system. The ship would contribute to the ADVENT program by furnishing a shipboard communications terminal equipped to communicate with the satellite and, to a limited extent, to control the position and orientation of the satellite. More specifically, the ship was to provide a mobile surface station to supplement the two fixed ground stations in demonstrating the feasibility of world wide communications using a 24-hour synchronous equatorial satellite. (The ground stations were at Fort Dix, N.J. and Camp Roberts in California, each of which had a 60-foot dish antenna.) It was also to determine the effect on signal propagation by varying the elevation angle, to determine the effect of natural and man-made interferences, and determine the effect of noise background when the signal was transmitted over water. During these experiments the Navy would also be evaluating the usefulness of the ADVENT concept to long-term Navy requirements and would be considering the characteristics of follow-on operational systems required to satisfy Navy operational needs. The ship would be operated by MSTS with naval personnel operating the communications equipment. The seakeeping ability of the ship would be improved by the installation of ballast and roll stablilization tanks. Space and weight would be reserved for the future installation of a helicopter landing platform. On 16 March 1961 the requirement for a facility for data capsule pickup by aircraft was added, and the helicopter platform was subsequently fitted.

On 12 May 1961 BUSHIPS made an initial inquiry about procedures for assigning a name for a Navy ship to be used in the Army's ADVENT satellite communication program. Commander MSTS recommended that USNS KINGSPORT VICTORY (T-AK 239) be transferred to BUSHIPS cognizance for alteration and subsequent transfer to project ADVENT. BUSHIPS advised that as a satellite communication ship she would be reclassified as an AG while remaining under MSTS operation. On 4 August 1961 OPNAV recommended that the name KINGSPORT VICTORY be changed to KINGSPORT when the classification was changed to AG. On 17 August 1961 the Navy awarded a contract to the Willamette Iron and Steel Co., Portland, Ore., to convert USNS KINGSPORT VICTORY (T-AK 239), the job to be completed by 1 April 1962 although it was reportedly completed in January. A Phase II conversion, the installation and check out of the ADVENT equipment proper, would follow in a naval shipyard. The Bendix Corporation became the prime contractor for the ADVENT system and associated hardware. Custody of the ship was transferred on 25 September 1961 from MSTS to BUSHIPS at the Willamette yard. Approved characteristics for a Satellite Communication Ship, SCB Project No. 225, were promulgated on 27 September 1961. On 14 November 1961 SECNAV approved and made effective the change in classification and name of KINGSPORT VICTORY (AK 239) to KINGSPORT (AG 164). On 27 April 1962 custody of the ship was transferred to BUSHIPS at NSY Philadelphia for phase II of the conversion. Following completion of all phases of her conversion, KINGSPORT was recommissioned on 8 December 1962. External features of KINGSPORT included a 54-foot air-inflated radome containing a 30-foot dish-shaped parabolic radar antenna capable of automatically tracking a satellite at an altitude of 23,300 miles, in addition to transmitting and receiving communications via a satellite. The ship also had a multi-element antenna forward for transmitting commands to satellites and receiving telemetry data from them and a helicopter platform on the stern for personnel and data transfer.

Ship Notes:
164KINGSPORT20Completed 12 Jul 1944. Ex KINGSPORT VICTORY (AK 239). From MC to Army 8 Apr 1948. To MSTS as AK 239 1 Mar 1950 (delivered 24 Mar 1950). Custody to BUSHIPS 26 Sep 1961 for conversion to AG at Willamette as support ship for Project ADVENT satellite communications programs. Renamed KINGSPORT and reclassified T-AG 164 on 14 November 1961. Moved by MSTS from Willamette to NSY Philadelphia 12-27 Apr 1962 for 2nd phase of conversion. Custody from NSY Philadelphia to MSTS for operation 20 Dec 1962. In 1966 became hydrographic research ship supporting undersea surveillance programs. To MA custody 29 Aug 1984. Stk. again 20 Aug 1990. Transferred to Kings Point 30 Oct 1991 as a scrap donation under the Merchant Mariner Memorial Act of 1990. Departed JRRF 21 Jan 1992 to BU.

Page Notes:
Compiled: 18 Oct 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Sources: NARA: RG19 Item S-13 Entry 1022-V(UD)