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17) The USNS Vanguard

18) The USNS Range Sentinel


17) The USNS Vanguard
vanguard patch

usns vanguard
Pictured above as she looked as a tracking ship for NASA. Later, the antennas, and associated gear were stripped from the ship, and equipment for testing different modes of submarine navigation installed. Without the antennas, the ship lost its visual character, but nevertheless retained its importance in the furthering of science, and national defense. She is gone now, having been replaced by more state of the art vessels, which will doubtfully prove as enduring.
My fondest time with the Vanguard was eleven-months spent in Mar Del Plata, Argentina tracking the SkyLab. I designed the patch emblem above, which was
placed on mugs, ash-trays, and lighters. To the consternation of the "Station" manager, I called the Vanguard a  "Tracking Ship", rather than "Station".
After leaving Argentina, we spent another grueling few months in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil during Carnival Time, at the end of which I was relieved to join the Hayes.
I returned to the Vanguard fifteen years later, retiring from it after thirty-seven years as a mariner. Ships are ships...it's the captain, and crew that make the ship.


18) The USNS Range Sentinel
rangesentinelpatch.gif
Patch contributed by James Lee Moran - O/S

range sentinel
The USNS Range Sentinel, a WW2 Victory Class freighter originally built as a Navy APA, and later converted into a tracking ship for the Submarine Service.
Note the vertically extended house to provide a view over the antennas.
The "Sentinel" had an Operational Test Support Unit - Navy men embarked under the umbrella of U. S. Navy Regulations ( Nav Regs ) - Article 0733 - now 32 CFR - CHAPTER VI - PART 700 700.847 delegating the civilian captain as responsible for their welfare, and safety, as were all other hands. Article 0733 applied to all USNS ships with military aboard. This sat well with the military unit, as a more relaxed living, and working environment was possible than had they been embarked on a military vessel with a military commanding officer. Of course, this sets up a strange set of circumstances, with unit commanders trying to divorce themselves, and their charges from the pervasive civilian atmosphere, with all it's maritime law, tradition, and drills. Then again the whole concept of the Military Sealift Command - MSC - under the authority of the Navy Department was, and is still, a bad scene at the human level. During WW2 the U.S. Army was the authority over the civilian manned government vessels - The Army Transportaton Service - ATS.
No Army man felt like his ships were being run, or taken over by civilian mariners - the Army had no ships as such...so no professional jealousy. In 1949 when the Navy took over the ships from the Army, resentment devistated the civilian/military union. Now the "merchies" ( merchant mariners ) were seen as the bad guys taking commands from Navy men, as the Navy was losing combatants to cut backs. It is doubtful that any Navy men payed any attention to the civilian manned "Army" ships, and the traditional respect professional seaman have for each other - civilian, or military was intact. It wouldn't be long...a couple of decades before the "merchies" were encroaching on the Navy's Fleet Support ships - oilers, etc. There was even talk of civilian crews manning submarine, and destroyer tenders - big ship commands, but that was dropped...thankfully.
I have always held that Forces logistic support, if to be civilian manned, should be under a civilian agency...like NASA. An hegemony over all logistics of all the Military Services, and on the same level with the Services. This frees the Military to fight, unencumbered with transport...leaving it to the civilians as during WW2, and the ATS - the largest assemblage of ships in the history of the world. I proposed the acronym FLASH - Forces Logistic And Support Hememony.
Service rivalry would be non-existant, and the civilain mariners would get their due respect.
Oh well, probably never again will we have such a need as we did a half-century ago, but it makes for good conversation, meaning - engendering good arguments.
I had also proposed that the Navy learn how to man their non-combatants - the ships the civilians were stealing out from under them - merchant marine style.
That fell on deaf ears, as what ship's commander would feel comfortable having to feel confident in so few men..."empire building" is the name of the game in the military. The more personnel you have, the bigger the job seems...to others.
Anyhow, we got off the track a bit here. The Range Sentinel tracked submarine launched missles from the launch point, supporting the submarine at the same time.
A real cushy job, as she only left the dock for such launches, which wasn't too often. She's gone now too. She was fifty-years old, and could still do 19.5 kts without redlining anything...450 lbs of steam, 20 nozzles - 11, 6, 2, and 1. - 85, and a half rpm. No shakin', no rattlin', no sweat. She was an 8500 Victory, with 9200 horsepower guaranteed. Handled like a speed-boat. Sorry to see those Victories go.


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