Quick Links Menu.

USS Tulare (AKA 112) in 1966 (possibly 10 September).

USS Tulare (AKA 112) in 1966 (possibly 10 September).
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

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

112TULARE12 Jan 1956Bethlehem Steel, San Fran.16 Feb 195322 Dec 195312 Jan 1956

AKANameTDecommStrikeDisposalFateMA Sale
112TULARE15 Feb 198031 Aug 19921 Apr 1998MA/T23 Nov 2011

Class Notes:
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 "develop the design and contract for the construction of a prototype vessel representing an auxiliary craft used by the Navy" after consultation with the (new) Department of Defense and to "include in the design of such a vessel all the Navy requirements pertinent to the type selected but to omit in the actual construction certain features so that its optimum value as a commercial ship could be realized." The Maritime Commission with the assistance of BUSHIPS began the new design, which it designated S-X-DY, with one of two Navy preliminary designs for its SCB Project No. 15 that had its machinery amidships (the other had it aft), because this arrangement would be more attractive to commercial operators. During the preparation of the basic cargo ship design the Maritime Commission submitted to the Navy Department the preliminary arrangements of a possible AKA conversion, and on 18 February 1950 the Navy replied that the proposed cargo ship was well suited for emergency conversion to an attack cargo ship. At the suggestion of commercial interests the design was then changed from six to seven holds to enhance its commercial value, a change approved by BUSHIPS on 24 March 1950. The Maritime Commission, less some of its functions, became the Maritime Administration (MARAD) on 24 May 1950. MARAD and the Navy then engaged in more discussions on AKA features for consideration and possible incorporation into the basic cargo ship to expedite its conversion to an AKA. The Secretary of the Navy on 13 September 1950 certified MARAD's C4-S-1a basic cargo ship design as being suitable for the use of the U.S. Government in time or war or national emergency. The C4-S-1a became known as the Mariner type.

The Mariner C4-S-1a type followed the Maritime Commission's C3-S-DX1 type (SCHUYLER OTIS BLAND, see AK 277) as a standard cargo ship for wartime mass production. 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 19,250 hp, 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.

In September 1950 and February 1951 it was suggested, in view of mobilization planning requirements and the FY 1951 Shipbuilding and Conversion Program, that MARAD prepare contract plans and specifications for the conversion of the C4-S-1a Mariner to AKA and APA type ships. BUSHIPS transferred the necessary funds on 12 June 1951 and MARAD retained the design services of Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass. The concept involved the conversion of completed C4-S-1a ships rather than building modified ships from the keel up. Approved characteristics for a new AKA converted from a Mariner (MA C4-S-1a) type ship, SCB Project No. 77, were promulgated by the Ship Characteristics Board on 26 July 1951 with a sixth and last change on 25 April 1958. These 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 mercantile Mariner including two quadrupod cargo masts. As of 1 May 1952 the FY 1954 building program included one new construction AKA with the hull and machinery characteristis of the Mariner (560' oa x 76' x 26' and 18,000 tons combat loaded, 22 knots trial and an endurance of 10,000 miles at 20 knots). The characteristics included six 3"/50 gun mounts, a landing platform to accommodate a cargo type helicopter, and accommodations for a ship's company of 40 officers and 396 enlisted plus troop accommodations for 20 officers and 200 enlisted.

In the meantime the Army was advocating the use by MSTS of ships with roll-on, roll-off features for handling wheeled and tracked vehicles. Both the Marines and the Army placed increased emphasis on the rapidity and facility of landing troops and cargo, which were not considered achievable in ordinary merchant ship conversions. The BUSHIPS Preliminary Design Branch, 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. (See the page on COMET, T-AKR 7 for more on contemporary ro-ro designs.) In about mid-November 1952 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 ro-ro design to adhere to the new characteristics as closely as possible without sacrificing the ro-ro principle or the well deck. This new design for an amphibious assult ship included combined APA, AKA, and LSD capabilities with the use of helicopters. It was not proposed that all AKAs be of this types since conversions from MARAD ships would still be required but a prototype of the new design was urgently needed. 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 included in the approved FY 1954 program as a new construction ship, but major changes were still under consideration when work on SCB 77A was ordered stopped on 29 June 1953.

The first submittals of the AKA conversion plans and specifications for the mobilization AKA were made by Bethlehem as design agent in February 1953 and were used for preparation of the contract design for the ship. The final plans and specifications were received by MARAD on 21 August 1953, were signed and transmitted to BUSHIPS on 1 September 1953, and were validated by the Bureau on 10 September 1953 as completion of the mobilization design. The design at this time had a displacement of 17,988 tons full load, dimensions of 563.65' oa, 528.0' pp x 76.0' x 26.1' draft at full load (17.347 tons at 25.25' draft in maximum operating condition), 20 knots sustained speed, 22,000 maximum SHP, 435 men in ship's company plus 322 troops, an armament of six 3"/50 twin mounts and six 20mm twin mounts, and a boat loadout of 10 LCM6, 2 LCP(L), and 16 LCBP. The preliminary SCB characteristics had called for four 3"/70 twin mounts but this was changed in the approved version to six 3"/50. The original armament arrangement was developed without a helicopter platform, and both after mounts were located on the centerline in a superfiring position and controlled by one director. To provide for the helicopter platform this was changed to a port and starboard arrangement, each mount having its own director. The forward mounts were arranged on the centerline in a superfiring position to improve the effective gun fire and arc of scanning of the gun director. This arrangement also permitted satisfactory conning of the ship from the bridge wings. The vision from the pilot house was already impaired by the quadrupod mast on the centerline and was not further reduced by the centerline gun arrangement. Where possible the design requirements for the AKA including the arrangement of the quadrupods, armament, and helicopter platorm were also made applicable to the APA design, Project No. 78, on which Bethlehem also continued to work.

By 24 July 1953 the Navy had reverted to Project 77 for the FY 1954 AKA, this time as a Mariner conversion. 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). Since the Project 77 conversion of a Mariner to an AKA was supposed to be a prototype for mobilization and was a very expensive one, BUSHIPS was asked to undertake a study to cap expenditures on the FY 1954 ship. On 25 August 1953 Code 400 noted that, since Bethlehem had prepared the contract plans for the conversion of a Mariner to an AKA and these plans were now in the hands of MARAD, who had had this work done for the Navy acting as its agent, it seemed reasonable to have MARAD give Bethlehem the job of preparing the working plans for the conversion and to have MARAD handle the whole conversion job. On 17 September 1953 BUSHIPS notified the Ship Characteristics Board that the 1954 Shipbuilding Program included one new-construction AKA 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.

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. Gibbs & Cox accepted the design contract on 6 November 1953 and BUSHIPS on 16 November 1953 transferred funds to MARAD to begin the conversion. On 10 Jun 1954 the Navy assigned the name TULARE and designation AKA 112 and awarded funds to the ship's builder (Bethlehem) 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 characteristics called for a 30' x 30' platform in the after part of the ship for the landing of small utility 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).

As of 20 November 1952 the draft FY 1955 program included 1 new construction AKA. On 4 September 1953 a draft FY 1955 program from DCNO included one additional Project 77 converted AKA although BUSHIPS recommended a new Project 77A ship instead. However the FY 1955 program recommended by CNO to SECNAV on 9 January 1954 included no auxiliaries except for four YAGRs. The Mariner conversions proposed in FY 1956 and 1957 were for APAs (see the APA 248 class). One Project 77 AKA and one Project 78 APA, both Mariner conversions, were included in a draft FY 1958 program proposed on 16 May 1956. This was increased to two of each type during the summer of 1956, but on 9 July 1956 CNO Burke, noting that the Navy was to acquire eight additional Mariners, requested that modernization of these ships be done as inexpensively as was consistent with having them in good operating condition. Specifically, equipment in them should not be changed simply because it did not meet Navy Department specifications if it was doing the job. On 24 September 1956 Burke changed the four AKA/APA conversions in the FY 1958 program to 1 new construction AKA and 1 new APA, but these were not in the program as recommended by him to SECNAV on 23 October 1956.

Ship Notes:
112TULARE32FY 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.

Page Notes:
Compiled: 29 Jul 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Special sources: NARA: RG 19 Entry P 37 Box 40 (AKA SBP #77A History & Characteristics); RG 19 Entry P 52 Box 121 (including Design History, Attack Cargo Ship (AKA), Conversion of MARAD Design C4-S-1a (Mariner class), Mobilization Planning Project (SCB Project No. 77), prepared by Code 460 and dated 18 February 1954.); 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).