Mission Buenaventura-class oiler

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USNS Mission Buenaventura.jpg USNS Mission Buenaventura prepares to
get underway, date and location unkown.[1]

Preceded by: Cimmaron class
Built: 1943–1945
Planned: 29
Completed: 27
Converted: 4
Lost: 2
Scrapped: 25
In commission: 1944–1980
Succeeded by: Suamico class
General Characteristics
Hull type: T2-SE-A2 / T2-SE-A3
Displacement: 5,532 tn light;
21,880 tn full
Length: 524 ft (160 m)
Beam: 68 ft (24 m)
Draft: 30 ft (9.0 m)
Speed: 16.5 kt (31 km/h)
Complement: 52
Propulsion: Turbo-electric, single screw, 6,000 hp
Armament (as-built): None

The Mission Buenaventura-class was a series of twenty-seven T2 tankers built during World War II by Marinship of Sausalito, California under contract to the United States Maritime Commission for use by the United States Navy as fleet oilers (a form of combat logistics ship capable of supplying other vessels with fuel, food, and other necessities while operating at sea, a practice known as "underway replenishment"). Two additional vessels were converted to distilling ships in 1944, after their keels were laid. All ships in the class were named after Spanish colonial settlements located in the present-day state of California save for USNS Mission Loreto which was named for a settlement in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Operating under civilian charter through 1946, the ships were transferred to the Naval Transportation Service (NTS) in 1947-48 and then to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MATS) in 1949. Two vessels were lost at sea: Mission San Francisco broke in two and sank with the loss of ten souls following a collision with the Liberian freighter Elna II while passing New Castle, Delaware on March 7, 1957, and Mission San Miguel ran aground on Maro Reef in the Hawaiian Islands on October 8, 1957.

In early 1960 Mission Capistrano was converted to a "Sound Testing Ship" wherein she was modified to carry an ultra‑high‑powered sonar transducer array and reclassified USNS Mission Capistrano (AG‑162). Upon completion of her conversion she was placed in service as USNS Mission Capistrano (T-AG-162) and joined "Project ARTEMIS," a program intended to ultimately produce a system that could detect submarines at long range. In 1964 three Mission Buenaventura class ships were subsequently converted to "Missile Range Instrumentation Ships" and played vital roles in America's manned space flight programs: Mission De Pala was redesignated as USNS Johnstown (AGM-20) but less than six months later had her name changed to USNS Redstone (T-AGM-20); Mission San Fernando was reclassified as USNS Muscle Shoals (AGM-19), then renamed USNS Vanguard (T-AGM-19) the following year; and finally, Mission San Juan, initially renamed USNS Flagstaff (AGM-21), ultimately bore the moniker USNS Mercury (T-AGM-21). Eleven of the class served out their final days hauling cargo in various forms for civilian shipping companies.

List of vessels


  1. (PD) Photo: United States Navy