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USS Pyro (AE 24)

- decommissioned -

Named after the Greek word for fire, the USS PYRO was the fourth SURIBACHI - class Ammunition Ship. Decommissioned on May 31, 1994, and stricken from the Navy list on April 8, 1997, the PYRO was laid-up with the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet, Benicia, CA, as part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet for the following years. Finally, PYRO was towed to Mare Island, Calif., for clean-up on January 25, 2012, and subsequently towed to New Orleans, La., for scrapping.

General Characteristics:Awarded: August 23, 1956
Keel laid: October 21, 1957
Launched: November 5, 1958
Commissioned: July 24, 1959
Decommissioned: May 31, 1994
Builder: Bethlehem Steel, Shipyard Inc., Sparrows Point, Md.
Propulsion system: Two boilers, geared turbines, one shaft, 16,000 shaft horsepower
Length: 511 feet (155.75 meters)
Beam: 72 feet (22 meters)
Draft: 29 feet (8.8 meters)
Displacement: approx. 17,450 tons full load
Speed: 20 knots
Aircraft: helo platform only
Armament: 4 3-inch/50-caliber guns
Crew: 19 Officers and 324 Enlisted

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Crew List:

This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS PYRO. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.

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USS PYRO Cruise Books:

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Commanding Officers of USS PYRO:

July 1959 - September 1959Captain Robert A. Paton, USN
September 1959 - November 1960Captain Marshall U. Bebbe, USN
November 1960 - November 1961Captain Donald S. Cramer, USN
November 1961 - November 1962Captain Beecher Snipes, USN
November 1962 - October 1963Captain Vincent P. Healey, USN
October 1963 - September 1964Captain James M. O'Brien, USN
September 1964 - February 1966Captain Howard W. Dawson, USN
February 1966 - July 1967Captain Isper J. Gersuk, USN
July 1967 - August 1968Captain John David Johnson, USN
August 1968 - December 1969Captain Kenneth C. Holm, USN
December 1969 - January 1971Captain Jack R. Evans, USN
January 1971 - August 1972Captain Donald B. Wikeen, USN
August 1972 - March 1974Commander William R. Swan, USN
March 1974 - March 1976Commander G. L. McMichael, USN
March 1976 - March 1978Commander E. T. Walker, Jr., USN
March 1978 - March 1980Commander R. B. Bessey, Jr., USN
March 1980 - August 1982Commander Sidney E. Manning, USNR
August 1982 - July 1984Commander S. E. Godley, USN
July 1984 - September 1986Commander P. A. Romanski, USN
September 1986 - December 1988Commander J. McPheeters, Jr., USN
December 1988 - November 1990Commander Thomas M. Smith, USN
November 1990 - November 1992Commander John J. Schuler, USN
November 1992 - April 1994Commander Robert J. McDonough, USN
April 1994 - May 31, 1994Commander Richard T. Egan, USN

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USS PYRO History:

USS PYRO was laid down 21 October 1957 by Bethleham-Sparrows Point Shipyard, Inc., Sparrows Point, Md.; launched 5 November 1958; sponsored by Mrs. Stuart H. Ingersoll; and commissioned 24 July 1959 at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Norfolk, Va., Captain Robert A. Patton in command. After fitting out at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, PYRO moved from local operations at Norfolk to Earle, N.J. to take on ammunition, then proceeded to shakedown out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba through 30 October. She called at San Juan and Kingston before transiting the Panama Canal to report to Service Force, Pacific for duty. Steaming via Lima, Peru and Acapulco, Mexico, she arrived San Diego 4 December 1959. PYRO spent the last part of December undergoing final sea trials at San Francisco.

At Port Chicago, Calif., PYRO offloaded her cargo, then spent the month of January 1960 at Mare Island Naval Shipyard. Through February the ship was at Port Chicago making preparations for her first West Pac deployment. She departed late that month, calling at Pearl Harbor; Sasebo, Yokosuka, Kobe, and Iwakuni, Japan; and at Okinawa and Hong Kong, while fulfilling her assigned tasks and providing underway replenishment services to various units of the 7th Fleet before returning to Concord, Calif. 15 August 1960.

A three-month overhaul commenced 21 March at Willamette Iron and Steel Co. Shipyard, Richmond, Calif. PYRO then departed on her second West Pac deployment 9 August 1961 and again serviced units of the 7th Fleet, returning to Concord, 1 March 1962. Local operations such as exercise "Pork Barrel," in May, provided realistic tests of the capabilities of the ships of the Service Force. PYRO has subsequently made annual deployments to West Pac since 8 October 1962. Much of her at sea time was spent on Yankee Station in support of 7th Fleet Units operating off the coast of Vietnam.

PYRO entered the San Francisco Naval Shipyard 9 September 1963 for installation of a revolutionary new weapons transfer system called FAST--Fast Automatic Shuttle Transfer. The new system proved its worth during her fourth West Pac deployment, 12 January through 17 June 1964. For her outstanding performance in servicing 7th Fleet units during the period 5 December 1964 through 23 October 1965 when she conducted 227 ammunition unreps she received the "Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon".

In slightly more than one year May 1965 through August 1966, USS PYRO broke her own replenishment record and the Fleet's no less than six times, while working with various aircraft carriers off the coast of Vietnam. During this period she built her transfer rate from 141.8 tons per hour to over 312 tons per hour while operating mainly at night. During her 1972 deployment, PYRO set another Navy record by servicing 364 ships and transferring over 36,000 tons of ammunition.

PYRO's 1974 deployment saw her assuming the additional role of providing fuel as well as ordnance to the Fleet. Pumping 650,000 gallons of fuel to receiving ships, PYRO set a new record at the time for non-oilers in refueling Seventh Fleet Units. On her 1976 deployment, PYRO's new role was as primary support ship to conduct the redistribution of pre-positioned war reserve ordnance stored at Ekego and Yokosuka, Japan to Sasebo, Japan and Subic Bay, R.P. More than 7,800 tons of ordnance was distributed in record time and with perfect safety.

After returning to the United States following her fifteenth West Pac trip in June 1980, PYRO was transferred to the Naval Reserve Force in August of that year for the weekend and active duty training of selected Naval Reservists and to support East Pac operations. Following a ten-month regular overhaul from July 1981 to April 1982, PYRO was returned to active duty status on 1 June 1982.

PYRO has deployed three times since, twice to the Western Pacific, in 1983 and 1985, and most recently a 6-month deployment to the Indian Ocean as part of Battle Group Foxtrot which conducted Operation Praying Mantis in the Persian Gulf region in April of 1988. PYRO again set a new record for ammunition ships that same year for remaining at sea for 117 straight days.

USS PYRO's 30th anniversary was marked by the addition of women to the crew after a short overhaul in the summer of 1989. PYRO was finally decommissioned in 1994.

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The photos below were taken by me and show the PYRO laid-up at Suisun Bay, Calif., on March 27, 2010.

The photo below was taken by me and shows the PYRO laid-up at Suisun Bay, Calif., on October 12, 2011. She has already been taken out of her row in preparation for her removal from the ghost fleet. PYRO was towed to Mare Island for clean-up on January 25, 2012, and subsequently towed to New Orleans, La., for scrapping.

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