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USNS Phoenix (T-AG 172) in December 1967.

USNS Phoenix (T-AG 172) in December 1967.
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class: PHOENIX (T-AG 172, VC2-S-AP3)
Design: MC VC2-S-AP3
Displacement (tons): 4,512 light, 15,200 full
Dimensions (feet): 455' oa, 444' wl x 62' e/wl x 28'
Armament: none
Accommodations: 48 officers, 161 unlicensed
Speed (kts.): 16
Propulsion (HP): 8,500
Machinery: Geared steam turbines, 2 boilers (465psi/750deg), 1 screw

172PHOENIX25 Oct 1962Oregon SB27 Feb 194510 Apr 1945by Jul 1963
173PROVO2 Mar 1963Oregon SB28 Apr 194517 Jun 1945by Jul 1963
174CHEYENNE29 Dec 1962Oregon SB8 May 194526 Jun 1945by Jul 1963

AGNameTInactStrikeDisposalFateMA Sale
172PHOENIXT197315 Jun 197331 Aug 1973MA/S--
173PROVOT197315 Jun 197331 Aug 1973MA/S--
174CHEYENNET197315 Jun 197331 Aug 1973MA/S--

Class Notes:
In late 1962 MSTS acquired three Victory ships to assist the Army in testing its Forward Floating Depot (FFD) concept, under which depot ships were prepositioned overseas as floating storage and to issue vital military materials in meeting contingencies. Logistic problems encountered in World War II and Korea suggested prepositioning heavy combat equipment near a potential hot spot to increase the mobility of large forces that might be deployed there. On 20 November 1962 SECNAV approved the changes in classifications and names of ARIZONA (MCV 183, originally CAPITAL VICTORY), UTAH (MCV 691, originally DREW VICTORY) and WYOMING (MCV 693, originally MIDDLESEX VICTORY) respectively to PHOENIX (AG 172), PROVO (AG 173), and CHEYENNE (AG 174). They were fitted with dehumidifying gear in the holds to permit combat-loaded cargo to remain aboard in tropical climates without damage caused by mildew or dampness. The ships were loaded in early 1963 at the Hampton Roads Army Terminal in Virginia with vehicles, weapons, ammunition, communication equipment, food petroleum products and other necessary combat gear, all in ready-to-use condition. The loaded ships then underwent complete overhauls on the West Coast and by July 1963 were swinging at anchor at Subic Bay, Philippines. From this location they could quickly move their material anywhere in Southeast Asia where it would be married up with airlifted troops.

The concept called for the ships to get underway at least once a month and steam for a 24-hour period and for all equipment and supplies to be unloaded at least once annually, inspected and maintenance performed to ensure they were in combat ready condition. The concept was also untested, and Exercise "Quick Release" was devised to both check out the equipment for the first time and test the concept. An augmented infantry brigade was airlifted from Hawaii and the three ships were ordered from Subic Bay to the port of Naha, Okinawa, to "marry up" with the infantry. The first ship, Phoenix, arrived on time on 27 January 1964 at Naha and immediately began unloading. Forty-eight hours later Phoenix departed and Provo docked and was unloaded. Cheyenne followed soon afterwards. After use in a field exercise all equipment was carefully cleaned and spot painted, if necessary, by the troops, packed for re-storage in the FFD ships, and driven to Naha Port for re-embarkation. The three ships sailed from Naha for Subic Bay on 10 April 1964.

Except for minor deficiencies in stowage the test was considered successful. On 1 July 1965 MARAD was advised of a MSTS plan to activate 16 Victory ships (soon reduced to 12) during 1966 for employment in the Forward Floating Depot (FFD) project (see the AG 179 class). These were not acquired as FFD ships, however, and as the Vietnam War intensified the need for military vehicles in-country the three ships delivered their loads to Vietnam and then served as general point-to-point freighters manned by Korean crews within the Far East area. The FFD concept also fell victim to the acceleration of the Fast Deployment Logistics Ship (FDL) program, which was to use fast roll-on roll-off ships to preposition military equipment. After the cancellation of the FDL program the prepositioning concept lay dormant for about a decade but revived on a large scale beginning with the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) of 1979 and ultimately the Maritime Prepositioning Squadrons (MPS) of the 1980s.

Ship Notes:
172PHOENIX183(ex-ARIZONA, ex-CAPITAL VICTORY 1948, completed 8 May 1945). FY 1963. Laid up by MA at San Francisco 1960, transferred to MSTS on 25 October 1962. Converted by Willamette Iron and Steel Co., Portland, Ore. in November 1962. Reassigned to general cargo operations with a Korean crew in 1965 under the control of MSTSPAC, placed out of service in 1970. To buyer 20 Sep 1973 at Yokosuka.
173PROVO691(ex-UTAH, ex-CALIFORNIA 1963, ex-DREW VICTORY 1949, completed 14 Jul 1945). FY 1963. Accepted by MA and MSTS from commercial operator in San Francisco on 2 March 1963 and converted in April-May 1963 by Willamette Iron and Steel Co., Portland, Ore. Then proceed to Norfolk for logistics and arrived at Subic Bay July 1963. In 1966 PROVO became a point to point cargo carrier, delivering military supplies to Okinawa and Viet Nam from stocking points in Japan and Subic Bay. To buyer 20 Sep 1973 at Yokosuka.
174CHEYENNE693(ex-WYOMING, ex-MIDDLESEX VICTORY 1948, completed 24 Jul 1945). FY 1963. Accepted by MA and MSTS from commercial operator 29 Dec 1962 and converted by Pacific Ship Repair, San Francisco, Calif., from 21 Jan 1963 to 22 Mar 1963. In 1966 she changed home port to Pusan Korea and was manned by Korean merchant seaman. At that time she was one of 4 cargo ships and 19 USNS LSTs operating out of MSTS Office Pusan primarily providing support in the Viet Nam theater. Her master was a former ROK Navy captain. To buyer 20 Sep 1973 at Yokosuka.

Page Notes:
Compiled: 18 Oct 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Special sources: Norman Friedman, U.S. Amphibious Ships and Craft (Annapolis, 2002).