Patch contributed by James Lee Moran - O/S
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
vertically extended house to provide a view over the
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
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
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