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USNS <I>Victoria</I> (T-AK 281).

USNS Victoria (T-AK 281). The vertical SLBM stowage facilities are in the hold just forward of the bridge.
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class: NORWALK (T-AK 279, VC2-S-AP3)
Design: SCB Project Nos. 234, 715.65, and 715.69 (AK 282), FBM conversions of MC VC2-S-AP3
Displacement (tons): 6,700 light, 11,150 full
Dimensions (feet): 455' oa, 437' pp x 62' e/wl x 24'
Armament: none
Accommodations: 66-69 civilian plus Navy security detachment (7 men in AK 282)
Speed (kts.): 16.5
Propulsion (HP): 8,500
Machinery: Geared steam turbines, 2 boilers (465psi/750deg), 1 screw

279NORWALK10 Oct 1962Oregon SB19 May 194510 Jul 194530 Dec 1963
280FURMAN18 Sep 1963Oregon SB23 Jan 19456 Mar 194514 Oct 1964
281VICTORIA18 Aug 1964Permanente Metals #220 Jan 194420 Apr 194415 Oct 1965
282MARSHFIELD22 Aug 1968Oregon SB1 Apr 194415 May 194428 May 1970

AKNameTInact/CustStrikeDisposalFateMA Sale/Depart
279NORWALKT10 Sep 1979/C1 Aug 197910 Sep 1979MA/T8 Sep 1993
280FURMANT22 Oct 1986/C13 Apr 199222 Jul 1993MA/T30 Oct 2003
281VICTORIAT7 Nov 198331 Mar 198631 Aug 1987MA/S--
282MARSHFIELDT23 Oct 1992/C30 Nov 199218 May 1993MA/T8 Nov 2005/D
Fates: MA/S (Title to MA and ship sold by MA); MA/T (Title to MA, ship sold later)

Class Notes:
ALCOR (AK 259) and BETELGEUSE (AK-260), Victory ships acquired in 1951 and converted to naval cargo ships under SCB Project No. 86 (see the page for the ALCOR (AK 259) class), were hastily converted in 1960 to FBM cargo ships (informally called AK-FBM) to supply replacement missiles to the tender for the Navy's first POLARIS fleet ballistic missile submarines, PROTEUS (AS 19), with at least BETELGEUSE being modified again in 1962 with vertical stowage for 14 POLARIS missiles in #3 hold while the first new construction FBM tender, HUNLEY (AS 31), approached completion. Anticipating the need for more POLARIS resupply ships, the Navy during 1961 developed plans for a more comprehensive conversion, this time to be manned by MSTS rather than Navy personnel. AK-FBM 259 and 260 were decommissioned in December 1968 and January 1971 respectively.

Approved characteristics for a FBM Cargo Ship (T-AK-FBM), SCB Project No. 234, were promulgated on 10 January 1962 and updated as SCB Project No. 715.65 on 7 May 1964. They were initially applicable to a ship in the FY 1963 building program and were ultimately used for the conversion of T-AK 279-281. The designed tasks of the ship were to provide point-to-point transportation to FBM submarine tenders of POLARIS missiles with their re-entry bodies and excercise components; submarine weapons and evasion devices; refrigerated cargo, dry provisions, technical spares, and general cargo; and packaged petroleum products, bottled gases, and bulk diesel fuel. They were also to provide for the disposal at sea of radioactive waste containers. The ship was to be operated by a civilian (MSTS) crew with a Navy unit embarked. It was to have vertical stowage positions for 16 POLARIS A1, A2, and A3 missiles in their inner liners but without guidance capsules, which were installed in three rows in #3 hold just forward of the bridge. On 11 February 1963 CNO specified that these positions were also to be able to accept B3 missiles in their inner liners, which would not exceed 80" in diameter. The ship needed a lifting capacity of about 50 tons with a fine measure of control to move assembled missiles from the dock to the individual stowage positions. Stowage would be provided for about 24 guidance capsules in shipping containers in a controlled environment. Stowage, handling, transfer, surveillance and monitoring facilities were to be provided for about 16 Mk 1 and 48 Mk 2 POLARIS re-entry bodies in containers as well as 14 warheads in containers for SUBROC (SUBmarine ROCket) and 16 warheads in containers for ASTOR (Anti-Submarine Torpedo). Stowage, handling, and transfer facilities were also to be provided for torpedo tube weapons including 10 Mk 37 Mod 1 and 8 Mk 16 torpedoes, 6 SUBROC, and 6 ASTOR. Cargo stowage was to include 10,000 cubic feet each of dry and frozen/chilled provisions, 9,000 gallons of lubricating oil, and 400,000 gallons of diesel oil. The MSTS complement was to consist of 16 officers, 6 CPOs, and 55 other enlisted and the naval unit was to have 1 officer, 1 CPO, and 8 enlisted, all in accommodations similar to those in the AGS 21 class conversions.

On 24 January 1962 the Navy informed the Commerce Department that it had a requirement for a Victory type vessel for conversion to a fleet ballistic missile resupply ship under the FY 1963 Shipbuilding and Conversion Program and asked for NORWALK VICTORY, adding IRAN VICTORY on 19 May 1962 as an alternate in case the successful bidder was on the West Coast. NORWALK VICTORY was withdrawn from the James River Reserve Fleet (JRRF) on 10 Oct 1962 and designated AK 279 on 9 May 1963. On 18 September 1963 the name and classification NORWALK VICTORY (MCV 696) were changed to NORWALK (AK 279). She completed her SCB 234 AK-FBM conversion at the Boland Machine and Manufacturing Co. of New Orleans, was delivered on 22 Nov 1963, and was accepted for service on 30 Dec 1963.

On 24 July 1963 the Commerce Department made available MONTANA (MCV 172) on the West Coast for a similar conversion, presumably for FY 1964, but FURMAN VICTORY on the East Coast was selected instead, withdrawn from the JRRF on 18 Sep 1963, and named FURMAN and designated AK 280 on 14 September 1964. She completed her SCB 234 AK-FBM conversion at the American Ship Building Company of Toledo, Ohio, on 7 Oct 1964 and was delivered to MSTS for operation on 14 Oct 1964. FURMAN was scheduled to be struck from the NVR on 30 Sep 1981 but this was cancelled on 8 Sep 1981 and the ship was reassigned to NAVELEX as a cable transporter. In April 1983, FURMAN completed conversion to a cable cargo ship at the Atlantic Drydock Corp. in Jacksonville, Florida. FURMAN could hold 2,100 miles of new cable that she delivered to cable layer ships at sea. She operated out of Newington, New Hampshire, where AT&T (now SubCom) manufactured undersea cables.

On 25 May 1964, with MONTANA still designated on the West Coast, the Navy asked for ETHIOPIA VICTORY as an East Coast alternate, and she was selected and withdrawn from the Hudson River Reserve Fleet on 18 Aug 1964. She was designated AK 281 and named VICTORIA on 22 May 1965. She completed her SCB 715.65 AK-FBM conversion at American SB, Toledo, Ohio, on 10 Oct 1965.

Preliminary designs were then drafted for a new construction AK (FBM) on 2 March 1964 and then for one for FY 1967 that had characteristics similar to those of Project 234 except for a speed of 20 knots, but the result was another Victory ship conversion, AK 282. This ship was designed for Poseidon rather than POLARIS missiles (Poseidon started development in 1963 and entered service in 1972) and had a more elaborate conversion than did the other three, including an enclosed main deckhouse and an AKA-style quadrupod mast for the boom serving the FBM hold. MARSHFIELD VICTORY was reserved by MARAD for future Navy use in July 1967. Approved characteristics for a FBM Cargo Ship (T-AK-FBM), SCB Project No. 715.69, were promulgated on 16 Dec 1967 and updated on 14 Nov 1968 with a final change on 6 August 1969. MARSHFIELD VICTORY was withdrawn from the Olympia Reserve Fleet on 22 Aug 1968 and was renamed MARSHFIELD and designated AK 282 on 19 Aug 1969. She received her SCB 715.69 AK-FBM conversion at Boland Machine, New Orleans, and was delivered to MSTS for operation on 28 May 1970.

Ship Notes:
279NORWALK696FY 1963. Ex merc. NORWALK VICTORY, completed 7 Aug 1945. To JRRF 10 Sep 1979, fleet service craft there 9 Nov 1983-31 Oct 1992. Sold by MA 9 Aug 1993 to Global Marketing Systems, departed JRRF 13 Dec 1993 to BU in India.
280FURMAN174FY 1964. Ex merc. FURMAN VICTORY, completed 19 Apr 1945. To reserve Aug 1981, converted to a cable transport in 1982-83 at Atlantic Dry Dock Corp., Fort George Island, Fla. To MA custody 22 Oct 1986. Departed Beaumont reserve fleet 21 Nov 2003, delivered at Brownsville 23 Nov 2003.
281VICTORIA526FY 1965. Ex merc. ETHIOPIA VICTORY, completed 17 Jul 1944. Replaced by VEGA (AK 286) and to MA custody 18 Jan 1984. Traded out (sold) by MA under Exchange Program 31 Aug 1987, to buyer 15 Oct 1987, BU as of 6 Mar 1988 in Taiwan
282MARSHFIELD106FY 1969. Ex merc. MARSHFIELD VICTORY, completed 7 Jun 1944. To MA custody in JRRF 23 Oct 1992, fleet service craft there 21 Jul 1993. Departed JRRF for scrapping facility 8 Nov 2005. BU completed 30 Jun 2006 by Bay Bridge Enterprise, Chesapeake, VA.

Page Notes:
Compiled: 7 Aug 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Special sources: NARA: RG 19 Entry P 26 Box 20.