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USNS Point Barrow (T-AKD 1) on 18 September 1959.
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Class: POINT BARROW (AKD 1)
Design: MA S2-ST-23a
Displacement (tons): 6,100 light, 10,615 full
Dimensions (feet): 465' oa, 435' wl x 74' e, 72' wl x 20' ext nav
Accommodations: 16 officers, 50 nonlicensed, plus 42 passengers
Speed (kts.): 15
Propulsion (HP): 6,000
Machinery: Steam turbines, 2 boilers, 2 screws
|1||POINT BARROW||5 Aug 1955||Maryland SB & DD||18 Sep 1956||25 May 1957||28 May 1958|
|1||POINT BARROW||T||27 Sep 1993||28 Sep 1993||18 Dec 1998||MA/T||15 Dec 2005|
In 1954 Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas S. Gates ordered MSTS to assist in the planned construction of a string of radar outposts, the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line, across the northern Canadan Arctic. Its mission was to detect Soviet bombers attempting to penetrate American airspace from over the North Pole. Supply by sea would be necessary, but up to then no large ocean-going ship had attempted to navigate the waters east of Point Barrow, Alaska or west of Baffin Island.
The MSTS Long-Range Ship Construction Program of 1954 included seven specialized ships: six for the DEW line and one Roll-On/Roll-Off AK to speed up logistics support for the large U.S. force stationed in Germany. The six ships for DEW line support were one "LSD" (called an AKD from February 1955), two small AOGs, and three small AKs. The program also included the four long-range tankers of the T-AO 149 class. By October 1954 this program had became part of the Navy's FY 1955 shipbuilding program.
The MSTS Long-Range Ship Construction Program included seven specialized ships: one Roll-On/Roll-Off AK, one "LSD" (called an AKD from February 1955), two small AOGs, and three small AKs, along with four long-range tankers (the T-AO 149 class). By October 1954 this program had became part of the Navy's FY 1955 shipbuilding program. The seven specialized ships were all designed to support specific types of military operations. The large AK (AK 268, later LSV 7) was to speed up logistics service for the large U.S. force stationed in Germany by introducing a new Roll-on/Roll-off service while the the other six ships were designed to support Arctic operations, initially the construction of the DEW (Distant Early Warning) line in the Arctic. The Cargo Ship Dock (AKD) was noted on 28 June 1956 to be a new type similar to the Dock Landing Ship (LSD) but for logistics use, and on 8 August 1956 she was numbered AKD 1 and named POINT BARROW for the northernmost point in the Arctic where the Navy operated a Dew Line site which was to be a focal point in the ship's operations. It seems likely that before the AKD designation was developed the designation AK 268 was reserved for this ship. The name was recommended by an officer in MSTS. Gibbs & Cox were probably the design agent. Resembling a Navy landing ship dock (LSD), the ship featured an ice-strengthened bow, an amidships ice belt, and fiberglass hull insulation to protect the crew and equipment from the cold. The stern docking well allowed the ship to transport landing craft for over-the-shore discharge of cargo and small tugs for the mooring of ships. BUSHIPS completed the contract plans and specifications for the AKD in mid April 1955 and then handed them over to MARAD to handle the contracting process. POINT BARROW was delivered in March 1958.
In 1958 the Distant Early Warning Line went into full operation. Support of the line shifted mostly to the Air Force and Canada, and by 1960 the DEW Line support responsibilities of MSTS were limited to Thule and Goose Bay. POINT BARROW, no longer needed in the Arctic, was modified in 1964-65 to carry Saturn rocket boosters to Cape Kennedy for the Apollo program.
In December 1973, the deep submergence vehicle (bathyscaphe) TRIESTE II (DSV-1) entered Mare Island Naval Shipyard for overhaul. Shortly after, both of her support ships, USS APACHE (ATF67) and USS WHITE SANDS (AGDS-1, q.v.) were decommissioned. POINT BARROW (AKD 1) was selected as her new support ship. On 14 Feb 1974 POINT BARROW was ordered to be placed "In Commission, Special" on 26 Feb 1974 and, when determined ready on or about 31 January 1975, was to be placed in full commission and assigned to duty in the Submarine Force, Pacific Fleeet. On 20 Feb 1974 the ship's new operational commander requested a name change from POINT BARROW to POINT LOMA as the Coast Guard had a POINT BARROW and the new support ship was to be based at Point Loma (San Diego). The name POINT BARROW (AKD 1) was changed to POINT LOMA (AGDS 2) by message on 23 Feb 1974 with a formal name notice to follow. On 25 Feb 1974 the prospective commissioning date was slipped two days to 28 Feb 1974, when she was placed in commission, special. On 8 March 1974 SECNAV cancelled the AGDS classification (Auxiliary Deep Submergence Support Vehicle) in the service craft category used for WHITE SANDS and established a new AGDS classification (Auxiliary Deep Submergence Support Ship) in the auxiliary vessels category for POINT LOMA, with "vehicle" changed to "ship." He also reported that the change of designation for POINT LOMA from AKD 1 to AGDS 2 had become effective on 28 February. TRIESTE II departed the shipyard in May 1975 and embarked in POINT LOMA for the first time in February 1977. In August of 1980, TRIESTE II was placed in a reduced operating status, and POINT LOMA later supported TRIDENT SLBM test launches as a missile range instrumentation ship.
|1||POINT BARROW||43||FY 1955. Probably delivered by builder 9 May 1958, delivered to MSTS 28 May 1958, and placed in service the next day. Decomm. 1 Oct 1986 and to MSC. Inactivated 27 Sep 1993, strike approved 28 Sep 1993, to MA custody in SBRF 4 Oct 1993. Navy contract for BU 29 Sep 1995 and withdrawn 8 Feb 1996 but contract cancelled by Navy, ship repossessed 30 Jul 1997 and to MA for disposal. To MA custody from Mare Is. 10 Sep 1998. Departed SBRF 15 Feb 2006 for Brownsville (All Star Metals). Scrapping completed 27 Oct 2006 by Marine Metal Inc, Brownsville.|
Compiled: 7 Aug 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021