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USNS Taurus (T-LSV 8).
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Class: TAURUS (T-LSV 8/AKR 8, ex LSD)
Design: Civilian conversion of Navy LSD 23
Displacement (tons): 10,060
Dimensions (feet): 475.4' x 72' x 18.75'
Accommodations: 16 officers, 45 unlicensed
Speed (kts.): 15.2
Propulsion (HP): 6,100 (9,000 as LSD)
Machinery: 2 geared turbines, 2 boilers (435psi/740deg), 2 screws
|8||TAURUS||15 Jan 1959||Gulf, Chickasaw||8 Nov 1944||Aug 1946||15 Jan 1959|
|8||TAURUS||T||Sep 1968||22 Jun 1971||25 Jun 1969||MA/S||--|
Ordered as LSD 23 from the New York Navy Yard on 21 Sep 1943, cancelled 15 Nov 1943, order reinstated 15 Jan 1944, and finally reassigned to Gulf, Chickasaw 15 May 1944. Her Westhinghouse turbines and Combustion Engineering boilers were installed in 1945. She was cancelled as an LSD on 17 Aug 1945.
The incomplete LSD was sold to the Gulf Atlantic Transportation Co. and launched at Chickasaw on 25 July 1946 as the CARIB QUEEN of Jacksonville, Fla. Before launching her stern was enclosed and fitted with two doors for vehicle ramps and she was given a clipper extension on her bow. She arrived at Jacksonville in May 1947 for conversion to a passenger and automobile ferry for service between Key West and Havana. For a cost of $3,250,000, CARIB QUEEN was to receive a full passenger ship superstructure and have a capacity for 900 passengers, 230 automobiles, and 20 trucks and trailers. However because of financial difficulties only periodic maintenance work was done, and on 27 December 1950 Gulf Atlantic announced that it had abandoned these plans, saying that the ship would "now return to her originally intended role as a mobile carrier or as a collier." She was eventually purchased by TMT Trailer Ferry, Inc., and renamed TMT CARIB QUEEN. On 22 Dec 1956 the Merrill Stevens yard at Jacksonville, Fla., completed her conversion to a roll-on, roll-off ship with stern and portable side ramps and two vehicle decks, one topsides forward and aft of the bridge and the other in the large original dock area inside the ship. She was the first privately-owned Ro/Ro to go into service, and a running mate named TMT FLORIDA QUEEN was planned. Her maiden voyage was under charter to MSTS, and on 4 February 1957 she arrived at St. Nazaire from New York loaded with trucks and trailers carrying US military equipment. After a second MSTS charter voyage she was to shift to her intended trailer ferry service between Jacksonville and San Juan, Puerto Rico, but bugs in her propulsion and other factors forced her owners to discontinue operations and go into bankruptcy. She was repossessed by the U.S. Government in February 1958 at Jacksonville, purchased by MARAD at a public auction, and on 17 Mar 1958 placed in the Wilmington NC reserve fleet.
On 24 October 1958 Commander MSTS noted to CNO that continued and increasing requirements placed upon MSTS by the Army for the ocean transportation of wheeled vehicles emphasized the need for additional Ro/Ro capability under MSTS control. Specifically the Army had requested the early acquisition and employment of TMT CARIB QUEEN on an integrated schedule with USNS COMET transporting loaded trailers between the US Atlantic Coast and the West Coast of France. The Army had authorized procurement of 300 van trailers which would ensure the full and economical utilization of both ships. On 19 November 1958 MSTS began to refer to the ship as T-AK 273 USNS TAURUS. On 10 December 1958 the Commerce Department, noting that attempts to find another commercial operator for the ship had been unsuccessful, agreed to her transfer to the Navy, and MARAD transferred her to MSTS custody on 15 Jan 1959. Repairs to machinery and equipment were completed in May 1959 by the Savannah Machine and Foundry Co., Georgia. 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 (COMET and 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 1962 MSTS first proposed the use of the ship to transport Saturn launch vehicles for NASA, and in May 1966 she was released for conversion in 1966-67. According to a NASA history she carried S-IVB and S-II stages from the West Coast to Mississippi test locations and to the Kennedy Space Center, although no photos have been found of her converted for this purpose suggesting the conversion was cancelled. She was also used in the later 1960s to support Army forces in Vietnam. She ended up in Yokosuka, Japan where all MSTS personnel departed the ship on 11 September 1968 with the ship slated for scrapping.
|8||TAURUS||(ex TMT CARIB QUEEN,ex FORT SNELLING, LSD 23). On 26 April 1963 effective 1 June 1963 TAURUS (T-AK 273) was reclassified to T-LSV 8. On 25 September 1968 effective 1 January 1969 TAURUS (T-LSV 8) was reclassified to T-AKR 8. To MA 25 Jun 1969 at Yokosuka and sold same date to Union Minerals & Alloys, resold by them for further operation. Purchased by Reading & Bates Exploration Co. 24 May 1972. Converted to drilling ship DOUGLAS CARVER 1974-75 at the former John Brown yard at Clydebank. Renamed INCO 109 in 1988, arrived at Alang 31 Jan 1989 to BU.|
Compiled: 13 Aug 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021