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USS Liberty (AGTR 5) on 2 October 1966.

USS Liberty (AGTR 5) on 2 October 1966.
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class: BELMONT (AGTR 4, VC2-S-AP3)
Design: SCB Project No. 192B, conversion of MC VC2-S-AP3
Displacement (tons): 7,190 light, 10,680 full
Dimensions (feet): 455' oa, 444' wl x 62' e/wl x 24'
Armament: none; (4: 1969) 4-20mmT
Accommodations: 20 officers, 20 CPOs, 297 enlisted (designed)
Speed (kts.): 17
Propulsion (HP): 8,500
Machinery: Geared steam turbines, 2 boilers (465psi/750deg), 1 screw

4BELMONT7 Feb 1963Oregon SB25 Jan 194425 Mar 19442 Nov 1964
5LIBERTY25 Mar 1963Oregon SB23 Feb 19456 Apr 194530 Dec 1964

AGTRNameTDecommStrikeDisposalFateMA Sale
4BELMONT16 Jan 197016 Jan 19704 Jun 1970MA/S--
5LIBERTY28 Jun 19681 Jun 197023 Nov 1970MA/S--

Class Notes:
On 11 October 1962 the director of the Navy's Ships Material Readiness Division wrote to MARAD that, following the selection of two Victory ships earlier in the year that became AGM 8 and AK 279, the Navy now had a requirement for two additional Victory ships for conversion to Technical Research Ships. Once again the Navy requested two ships be reserved on each coast, SIMMONS VICTORY and IRAN VICTORY on the West Coast and BINGHAMTON VICTORY and FURMAN VICTORY on the East Coast, the final choice to be based on the choice of contractor. The West Coast ships were ultimtely selected, although FURMAN VICTORY on the East Coast soon became AK 280. The characteristics for AGTR 2-3 (SCB No. 192A) generally applied to these ships and were used in early design work, although unlike in AGTR 2-3 the installation of passive roll-stabilization tanks was feasible of accomplishment during their conversion and this feature was included in the contract plans and specifications. Increased deck area for communications facilities and Research Operations was been included in the contract plans, made possible by the relatively large basic hull and available weight and stability margins. Approved characteristics for a Technical Research Ship (AGTR), SCB Project No. 192B (FY 1963), were promulgated on 5 July 1963 with a single change on 24 February 1964. On 8 June 1963 the classifications and names IRAN VICTORY (MCV 94) and SIMMONS VICTORY (MCV 182) were changed to BELMONT (AG 167) and LIBERTY (AG 168) for the two technical research ships then undergoing conversion. The dish antenna on the bows of both ships as completed was probably for the Technical Research Ship Special COMMunications (TRSSCOMM) system, which could relay messages directly to Washington by bouncing a microwave signal off the moon. This system consisted of a sixteen-foot, dish shaped antenna mounted on a movable platform and capable of bouncing a 10,000 watt microwave signal off a particular spot on the moon and down either to receiving stations at Cheltenham or Maryland or to other Navy SIGINT ships. It was also fitted in PVT JOSE F VALDEZ (AG 169, ex APC 119).

In May 1967 tensions were rising in the Middle East between Israel and her Arab neighbors; this resulted in the Six-Day War in June 1967. The National Security Agency (NSA) decided to deploy a SIGINT collection ship to the area to monitor the situation. Most of the technical research ships were too far away: OXFORD and JAMESTOWN were in Southeast Asia, GEORGETOWN and BELMONT were in South America, and USNS SGT JOSEPH E MULLER was off Cuba. Choice of a ship for the operation narrowed between USNS PVT JOSE F VALDEZ, then headed from the eastern Mediterranean to Gibraltar, and LIBERTY, in port at Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The NSA selected LIBERTY because she had superior cruising speed (18 knots vs. 8 knots for VALDEZ), because her VHF/UHF multichannel collection capability was better, and because she was, unlike VALDEZ, at the beginning of a deployment. On 23 May 1967 LIBERTY was diverted for duty in the eastern Mediterranean. She stopped at Rota on 1 June and departed the next day for the eastern Mediterranean.

See other sources for the ensuing attack by Israeli aircraft and MTBs on LIBERTY on 8 June 1967. After this incident and the seizure of PUEBLO in 1968, BELMONT was taken out of service at the beginning of 1970 with the other large and small intelligence collection ships.

Ship Notes:
4BELMONT94FY 1963. (ex-AG 167 1 Apr 1964) (ex-IRAN VICTORY, compl. 23 Apr 1944). Converted by the Willamette Iron and SB Co., Portland, Ore. Returned to MA and sold by them at Portsmouth, Va.
5LIBERTY182FY 1963. (ex-AG 168 1 Apr 1964) (ex-SIMMONS VICTORY, compl. 4 May 1945). Converted by the Willamette Iron and SB Co., Portland, Ore. Attacked by Israeli aircraft and MTBs off Sinai 8 June 1967 during the Six-Day War. Hull repaired at Malta, returned to the US 29 Jul 1967, began deactivation 4 Mar 1968. To buyer 17 Dec 1970.

Page Notes:
Compiled: 19 Oct 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Special sources: NARA: RG 19 Item S-13 Entry P 62 Box 73 (SCB 192A); Wikipedia for PVT JOSE F VALDEZ (TRSSCOMM and May 1967 deployments)