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USNS Comet (T-LSV 7) early in her career.
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Class: COMET (T-LSV 7)
Design: MA C3-ST-14a
Displacement (tons): 8,175 light, 16,150 at 27' draft, 18,286 full
Dimensions (feet): 499' oa, 465' wl x 78' e/wl x 27' max nav
Accommodations: 60 officers, 53 others including ship's complement of 16 officers and 35 others
Speed (kts.): 18
Propulsion (HP): 12,000
Machinery: Geared steam turbines, 2 boilers (615psi/850deg), 2 screws
|7||COMET||28 Jun 1955||Sun SB & DD||15 May 1956||31 Jul 1957||27 Jan 1958|
|7||COMET||T||22 Apr 1984||None?||c1995||MA/T||24 Jun 2015|
The MSTS Long-Range Ship Construction Program of 1954 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. Six of the seven specialized ships were designed to support the construction of the DEW (Distant Early Warning) line in the Arctic. The seventh, the roll-on/roll-off (Ro/Ro) cargo ship, was designed to introduce a new and faster logistics service with cargo pre-loaded in truck trailers for the large U.S. force stationed in Germany. On 8 August 1956 she was given the number AK 269 and the name COMET, which suggested to the MSTS officer who recommended it perpetual motion. COMET is generally considered to have been the first purpose-built ocean-going RO/RO vessel (although LSTs could also be considered RO/ROs). BUSHIPS completed the contract plans and specifications for AK 269 in January 1955 and then handed them over to MARAD to handle the contracting process. COMET was delivered by her builder to MA and by MA to MSTS on 24 Jan 1958. On 15 June 1961 the U.S. Army rear services command in Europe reported to the Army Chief of Transportation in Washington that for the past 18 month a portion of the critical supplies for the European theater had been shipped in trailer-van services via the two roll-on/roll-off vessels then in service (the second being the acquired TAURUS). This had resulted in a reduction in the average time from CONUS to USAREUR from 60-90 days to 25 days and a reduction in the Army's air movement requirement.
In October 1961 Defense Secretary Robert McNamara projected that construction of five COMET-class RO/RO ships would begin in fiscal year 1963 but only one (SEA LIFT) materialized, McNamara having then turned his attention to the abortive FDL (itself a RO/RO) program. On 26 April 1963 effective 1 June 1963 COMET (T-AK 269) was reclassified to T-LSV 7, and on 25 September 1968 effective 1 January 1969 COMET (T-LSV 7) was reclassified to T-AKR 7.
COMET was among a number of MSC cargo vessels assigned to the Ready Reserve Force (RRF) in Fiscal Year 1984, with administrative control transferred to the Maritime Administration. She was transferred from MSC to MA custody (RRF) on 15 Mar 1985 (Sep 1985 in NVR). Full title transfer came in the early 1990s. COMET was stationed as a RRF ship at various locations on the West Coast starting with Portland, Ore., in 1986 and participated in Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, and IRAQI FREEDOM. In 2003 COMET was placed in reduced operating status in Alameda, California. She was later moved to the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet and was downgraded from RRF to NDRF retention status in July 2006 and to non-retention status in January 2008.
|7||COMET||42||Departed SBRF 5 Aug 2015 for Marine Metals Inc., Brownsville. BU completed 26 May 2016. |
Compiled: 13 Aug 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Sources: Norman Friedman, U.S. Amphibious Ships and Craft, (Annapolis, 2002).