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29) The Point Barrow

30) The Upshur/Geiger

31) USS Arneb AKA-56

32) The Kingsport

29) The Point Barrow

The USNS Point Barrow, a Landing Ship Dock built for civilian manning from the start for MSTS ( Military Sea Transportation Service ) for Arctic Operations.
When I took command in 1967 she was working for NASA carrying the second stage to the Saturn Five missle of the APOLLO program. An interesting job to say the least, shuttling "stages" from Seal Beach, California to Michoud, La., and then to Port Canaveral, Florida. At the end of the APOLLO mission, she was turned over to Navy manning for tracking submarine missles on the West Coast.

The USNS Point Barrow
Her Captain

Sadly, though NASA provided unlimited, first class, huge glossies of the vessel, and operation, none were saved except for a few 35MM slides. Seen here now, scanned, using a primitive home-made device, are all that remain from those years. Who'd ever dream of the technology we'd have today for photography, and computers.
Great aerial shot of the ship Here

Views From Scanned Slides
Click On To Enlarge
Bow Stern

A nice looking ship from forward...she had fine lines.


Viewed from astern, she has the appearance of Blimp Hanger.

Port side forward Port side aft

Notice the "square" compartment just abaft the stack, 02 Level height. That's the passive roll tank NASA had installed strictly for the comfort of the "stage". That's alot of weight high up!


The passive roll tank held four-hundred tons of water, and supposedly kept the ship from rolling more than 5º either side. A large emergency dump valve was provided on the Starboard side.

The Wheelhouse
View Across To Port

Spacious wheelhouse...great for pacing. With only one rudder, and the wheels just far enough outboard not to have much effect on it, the ship lost steerageway at slow speeds. Steering using the wheels, or "twisting" wasn't possible either, as the wheels weren't set far enough outboard to provide much leverage. So...she handled like a barge, except when up to speed. A nice ship otherwise...plenty of room, and when the cargo deck was vacant, and in port, a great place to park your car.
Laid up in '93 after a stint with the Navy as a submarine missile tracking ship using the alias - USS Point disposition - sold for scrapping. Such is life.

The Point Barrow as original.


Point Barrow as viewed from astern showing steaming, and launching depths.

stern_up_pt_barrow       stern_down_pt_barrow

The Upshur/Geiger
Under Way
The USNS Upshur shown above, and it's sister-ship USNS Geiger, were my first assignments when joining MSTS. Three of this class were built, the third being the USNS Barrett. Originally started as commercial passenger ships, they were completed as troop transports for the Korean War. The switch from tankers to passenger ships for this young officer was like dying, and going to heaven...the way to go!
Other Views
Starboard - 1 Starboard - 2

Classic "Cruiser" stern. Single screw. Note stacks look like KingPosts.


The Wheelhouse, and Radio Room made up the "False Stack", for a nice arragement.

Wheelhouse View Fwd from Bridge

Great rap-around windows. Note the Frazer Plotting Board.


She was a "Stick" ship...they all were in those days.

Looking Ahead Looking Aft

View from the Flying Bridge, or top of "False Stack"...a little rough. Neat Flying bridge with bulwarks all around.


View Aft from the "Swimming Pool"...the top of the "False Stack"...we sometimes filled it with water.

Starboard Wing Port Wing

Though I had sailed as Second Officer on tankers - ships larger than the Geiger, I was Jr. Third here.


It was a "glamor" job - entertain passengers, make announcements, keep the log responsibility....Best job ever.

Pisa Pompei

They paid me.


After seven years sailing oil tankers, finding a job like this was like dying, and going to heaven. I was clean for the first time in my sea-going career.


USNS GEIGER View From The Lowest Decks


Quartermaster Signalman

uss_arneb_aka-56.jpg ..... arneb_aka-56.jpg ..... another_arneb_picture.jpg

The USS Arneb AKA-56 in three bow views. An Attack Cargo ship, the Arneb carried eight lcm-6, and 14 lcvps for amphibius landings, and could accommodate a Marine Unit aboard. I sailed as Quartmaster Signalman, and Quartermaster aboard her in '52, and '53 seeing service in the Atlantic, Carribean, and Meditteranean. Great ship, and Good People.

The Kingsport
In Port
The USNS Kingsport a converted Victory Class Freighter, used at first for tracking missles, and later on for underwater survey. She was very manueverable, and we did alot of transponder planting, and recovery...a lot of fun. On occasion we would rendezvous with the Neptune, and there was more fun. The old Neptune, seen in some photos below, had Skinner-Uniflow steam engines, and, according to her skipper - Captain Show at the time, preferred the Kingsport do all the approaches, and maneuvering when we would meet for High Lining charts, etc., between the ships.


High Lining With The Neptune
Neptune Forward Neptune Aft

A perfect day for High Lining.


Hardly a ripple.

Neptune 'Midships "Say again?"

Not much of an audience over there.


Answering my audience up top.

Blasè Pulling Away

For me it was a fun evolution, but I watched things like a hawk.


Pulling away after a sucessful job. This photo is enlargable.

For more extensive information, and fabulous photos, visit Ramon's excellent pages on this ship, and others...including links to data on the projects engaged in.

OAR...get it? - OR...

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