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U. S. Navy Auxiliary Ships
Since 1945

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The new fast combat support ship USS Sacramento (AOE-1) with the equally new combat store ship Mars (AFS-1) and the oil-stained FRAM-II destroyer Walke (DD-723) alongside, probably during pre-deployment training for a Westpac cruise that started on 27 November 1964. Walke has a highline over amidships while Mars has only a phone and distance line over forward and may be breaking away. Sacramento was nearly as large as an Iowa-class battleship and had half of the propulsion plant of one, the incomplete Kentucky (BB-66). Photo no. USN 1105513 released 24 December 1964.

Enter, 1946-1980

Enter, Since 1980

(Quick Links Menu, Since 1945)

(Ship Name Index, Since 1945)

This section of the auxiliary ships portion of the Shipscribe website is in two parts, "1946-1980" and "Since 1980." The main reason for this division is that archival and other official sources are often available for the first part but generally not for the second part. The first part provides full information on ships between 1946 and 1980, and the second part provides summary information on ships from 1980 to the present. Work on the first part began in July 2021 and its last photo pages were posted on 28 October 2023, although many changes and updates have been made since including from new archival sources. The second part contains a listing of the types and classes of auxiliary ships acquired since 1980 with links to any class or photo pages that have been produced. Already posted are links to class pages with photos for the post-1980 ships of the "combat logistics ships" (now AKE, AO, and AOE) category, thus completing the record on this site of these important ships that continue to support the fleet through underway replenishment. Links to class pages with photos for post-1980 ships of some other pre-1980 types, starting with AFS 8-10, AK 286, ARS 50-53, and YAG 62, have also been posted.

The Navy added a new generation of auxiliary ships to the fleet during the 1950s and early 1960s, but fiscal constraints largely caused by the increasing intensity of the Vietnam War brought auxiliary ship procurement to a near stop by the end of the 1960s. The Navy also added many World War II-era ships to the auxiliary fleet in the 1950s and 1960s, many for the new Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS). See Appendix 3, The Establishment of the Military Sea Transportation Service, for the early history of MSTS. The use of World War II-era ships ended in 1969 with Marshfield (AK 282), a Victory ship converted to transport fleet ballistic missiles to submarine tenders stationed overseas. Only a few new auxiliary ships were added during the 1970s, some because of concern within OSD over the aging of the force rather than because the Navy asked for them. This section concludes with Fiscal Year 1979 procurement at the end of this slow period plus the FY 1980 ships of legacy types. When acquisitions began to pick up in Fiscal 1980 the types procured, including the new T-AGOS type first funded in FY 1980, were quite different, and beginning in the mid-1990s the Navy began to move away altogether from operating its own auxiliary ship force as it had in World War II, relying instead on the civilian-manned Military Sealift Command (MSC, formerly MSTS) and on contract shipping. By 2023 the only auxiliary ships in full Navy commission were the two LCC-19 command ships, two AS-39 class submarine tenders (both at Guam), four of the new Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) type, and for the legal record Pueblo (AGER 2).

Ship designs were managed and numbered by the Ship Characteristics Board (SCB, to c1971), Ship Acquisition and Improvement Council (SAIC, c1971-72), and the Ship Acquisition and Improvement Panel (SAIP, c1972-76). From 1974 design requirements were disseminated as Top Level Requirements (TLR). In 1963 for Fiscal Year 1965 and later the SCB replaced its numeric sequence of SCB numbers with block numbers (700 = auxiliaries) followed by a two digit suffix denoting the fiscal year under which the ship was to be built (concept work having began earlier). In effect, this new numbering scheme changed the focus of the SCB from design and development to procurement and budget compliance, and concept-only designs ceased to receive numbers. The assignment of design numbers stopped in 1979. Click here for a listing of all U.S. Navy Ship Characteristics Board (SCB) numbers and those of its successors, 1946-1979.

As does the earlier 1835-1945 section, the first part of this section provides for each ship its name and classification, technical specifications, and procurement history, along with dates and other relevant data on construction, commissioning, and disposal. Most career details, notably operational history, are outside the scope of this work. Ships are listed by type using standard U. S. Navy classifications (AD: Destroyer Tender, etc.) and class. To proceed to the ship class pages, click "Enter, 1946-1980" above or click on the photograph at the top of this page to access the main ship type page. The Quick Links Menu is an alphabetical listing of ship types in the 1946-1980 part with direct links to them. To view the summary information on the period after 1980 click "Enter, Since 1980" above.

Whenever possible, a representative photograph has been provided on each ship class page with more photos on special photo pages. The photos are primarily from the U. S. Naval History and Heritage Command and from other Navy sources, although documentation on these and other photos, including photo numbers and dates, is not as complete as for the period up to 1945 because many of the originals have not been cataloged by NHHC or NARA. Unlike the other information on this site, all of which is copyright © by Stephen S. Roberts, all photographs that originated from U.S. Government collections or that have U.S. Government file numbers are believed to be in the public domain, and this site claims no rights to them and places no restrictions on their reproduction and use.

Two directives were added to SECNAVINST 5030.8A of 8 Feb 2011 and repeated in later editions: "Hyphens shall not be used in the hull number of any ship or craft," and "Periods shall not be used to separate any letters in a ship's name." These directives codified practices that had been in use since at least the early 1950s (though not in World War II) and are followed in this section.

This entire site, including all its pages, is copyright © Stephen S. Roberts, 2001-2023 or later as indicated.

Page made 9 July 2021