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USS Tulare (AKA 112) in 1966 (possibly 10 September).
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Class: TULARE (AKA 112, C4-S-1a)
Design: SCB Project No. 77 and MA C4-S-1b, conversions of MA C4-S-1a
Displacement (tons): 9,050 light, 15,970 load
Dimensions (feet): 564.0' oa, 528.0' pp x 76.0' e/wl x 28.0 max nav, 26.1' load
Armament: 6-3"/50T, 6-20mmT; (1959) 6-3"/50T
Accommodations: 39 officers, 396 enlisted, plus 322 troops, or (1957) 59 officers including 30 troop officers and 696 enlisted including 300 troops
Speed (kts.): 21 (20 continuous sea)
Propulsion (HP): 22,000 (rated overload)
Machinery: Geared steam turbines, 2 boilers (600psi/875deg), 1 screw
|112||TULARE||12 Jan 1956||Bethlehem Steel, San Fran.||16 Feb 1953||22 Dec 1953||12 Jan 1956|
|112||TULARE||15 Feb 1980||31 Aug 1992||1 Apr 1998||MA/T||23 Nov 2011|
In 1946 the Ship Characteristics Board listed a series of projects for amphibious ships with a 20-knot speed to increase their survivability against modern submarines based on the German Type XXI. These included an APA (SCB 14), AKA (SCB 15), AGC (SCB 16), LSD (SCB 17), and LST (SCB 32). In June 1946 BUSHIPS recommended omitting procurement of all of these from the FY 1948 building program but SECNAV approved the AKA design study for inclusion in that program on 19 June 1946 and design work continued with an objective of developing a single type hull and engineering plant easily adaptable to rapid conversion to a high speed APA or AKA in time of war and suitable for building in merchant shipyards. A project for a 20-knot, 20,000-ton new-construction Attack Cargo Ship (AKA) was distributed by CNO for comment on 2 October 1947 but did not reach the approval stage. In 1948 BUSHIPS produced two sketch designs for a 564' oa AKA along with APA and AGC variants. On 22 July 1948 President Truman gave the Maritime Commission funding to design a 20-knot APA/AKA. BUSHIPS developed another sketch design of its AKA that was more suitable for commercial operation and then handed off the design to the Maritime Commission. The MC first designed the ship as an AKA generally meeting the requirements of SCB 14/15 and then converted it (on paper) to a freighter. After many compromises with the Navy the Maritime Commission in the summer of 1950 completed the plans for the C4-S-1a Mariner class freighter, specifically intended for wartime conversion to a fast amphibious ship.
The Mariner C4-S-1a type followed the C3-S-DX1 type (SCHUYLER OTIS BLAND, see AK 277) as a larger standard cargo ship for the Maritime Commission and its successor, the Maritime Administration. The outbreak of the Korean War required large and fast ships to support a military buildup in Korea and BLAND, designed as an 18.5 knot mobilization successor to the Victory ship, did not fully meet the requirements. By December 1950 Congress had appropriated funds for construction of the Mariner, which was larger and faster (20 knots) than BLAND and had greater potential for conversion to naval auxiliaries. The work was also necessary to keep shipbuilders in business. Contracts were awarded on 7 February 1951 for 25 Mariner-class ships, soon followed by ten more vessels. (The five Mariners acquired by the Navy, AG 153-154, AKA 112, and APA 248-249, all came from this final batch of ten.) Their displacement was 7,663 light and 21,093 load, length was 564 feet overall, loaded draft was 29.8 feet, maximum power was 19,250hp, they made 21 knots on trials, and they had a crew of 58 plus 12 passengers. They carried over some features of SCHUYLER OTIS BLAND, including ice strengthening, high speed, folding cargo hatches, improved hull hydrodynamics, "push-button" cargo operations, a steam temperature of 875 degrees (although steam pressure was only a standard 600psi), and a compact engine room only 70 feet long. They were when built the largest and fastest dry cargo ships in the world with the most powerful engines on any single screw cargo ship. Further improving on BLAND, they had an alternating current electrical plant, carried an additional 30 percent of cargo, and had the refrigerated cargo capacity that BLAND lacked. The rated continuous overload power of 22,000 SHP was reached by reducing main turbine bleeding and accepting reduced plant efficiency beyond commercial practice but within naval limits.
Approved characteristics for a new AKA converted from a Mariner (MA C4-S-1a) type ship, SCB Project No. 77, were promulgated on 26 July 1951 with a sixth and last change on 25 April 1958. The characteristics stated that the design utilized the C4-S-1a hull as it had many desirable military features for conversion to an AKA, but noted that when operated as an AKA, the Mariner's draft would be less than when operated as a merchant vessel, most likely requiring the installation of fixed ballast to increase stability and means for liquid ballasting to compensate for light loading. The design also restored some Navy features omitted from the Mariner including two quadruped cargo masts. However the Army was advocating the use by MSTS of ships with roll-on, roll-off features for handling wheeled and tracked vehicles, and Preliminary Design, which was also concerned over problems that existing AKAs had with loading and unloading in rough weather, decided at the end of October 1952 to apply this principle in its studies of the new AKA. In about mid-November Preliminary Design received from the SCB new characteristics for a new construction AKA, Design No. 77A, which were little more than a ship like the converted Mariner in which the size and arrangement of spaces would not be subject to the limitations of a conversion. They were closely patterned on the even older requirements for the 1947 Project No. 15 (as was presumably also the case with the SCB 77 conversion). Preliminary Design revised its design to adhere to the new characteristics as closely as possible without sacrificing the RO-RO principle or the well deck. The resulting SCB 77A design was a hybrid 18,100-ton, 575-foot ship combining characteristics from the Mariner conversion, a Marine Corps study for an Amphibious Assault Transport, and the LSD 28 type. AKA 112 was authorized in FY 1954 as a new construction ship but major changes were still under consideration when work on SCB 77A was ordered stopped on 29 June 1953.
On 17 September 1953 BUSHIPS notified the Ship Characteristics Board that the 1954 Shipbuilding Program included one AKA (new) and that the Bureau had received SCB Project 77A for such a ship. However since then it had received information that the AKA in the 1954 program would be converted from a Mariner and it was therefore proceeding with a conversion design based on SCB Project 77. The Bureau requested confirmation that Project 77 applied without change. The change was made to save money -- SCB 77A was estimated to cost about #29.2 million vice $22.2 million for the Mariner conversion (including the acquisition cost of the ship). Plans originally called for using the fifth and last Mariner under construction at Newport News (CRACKER STATE MARINER), which would be delivered upon launching with machinery laid up, but later the second of five ships at Bethlehem San Francisco (EVERGREEN MARINER, MA hull 32) was selected. On 10 Jun 1954 the Navy assigned the name TULARE and designation AKA 112 and awarded funds to the ship's builder for conversion work, with MARAD supervising the work and contracting with Gibbs & Cox for working drawings. (The Navy wanted MARAD to handle the conversion on the theory that upon mobilization it would have to convert other Mariners.) Some Navy accountants carried the ship as new construction because she had not previously been completed as a merchant ship. The original 1951 characteristics called for a 30' x 30' platform in the after part of the ship for the landing of small utilitiy liaison helicopters, but this was changed on 8 April 1955 (Change 4) to a 65' x 60' platform for the landing of the Troop Assault Helicopter (HR2S). The FY 1956 program included a second ship, but the project had to be dropped due to lack of funds. The second ship was then planned for FY 1957 and again for FY 1958, both times abortively.
|112||TULARE||32||FY 1954. Ex EVERGREEN MARINER. On 25 September 1968 effective 1 January 1969 TULARE (AKA 112) was reclassified to LKA 112. Assigned to Naval Reserve training in mid-1975. To MA custody 19 Feb 1980. Stricken 1 Aug 1981 for transfer to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy as BAY STATE but the arrangement fell through. Candidate in May 1984 for a lease to Peru that also fell through. Returned to Navy custody and restored to the list in connection with another foreign loan that was approved on 8 Feb 1989 but that also did not materialize. Stricken again 31 Aug 1992 and to MA custody Sep 1992. Departed the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet on 14 December 2011 to be cleaned of marine growth and loose exterior paint at the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard, departed Mare Island 30 December 2011 under tow to the scrapper (Int’l Shipbr. Ltd.) at Brownsville.|
Compiled: 29 Jul 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Special sources: NARA: RG 19 Item S-11 Entry P 37 (AKA SBP #77A History & Characteristics), RG 19 BUSHIPS General Corresp 1953-57 File 1956 SBG PGM (Shipbuilding Program). Some of the material on the history of the Mariner type is from "Schuyler Otis Bland, C3-S-DX1 Prototype: A Real S.O.B." by Captain Terry Tilton, USN, Ret., and "Not a bland powerplant, Prototype Schuyler Otis Bland" in PowerShips (the journal of the Steamship Historical Society of America) No. 316 (Winter 2021) pp. 18-35. See also Norman Friedman, U.S. Amphibious Ships and Craft, (Annapolis, 2002).