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General Characteristics Crew List Memorabilia Accidents aboard the Ship About the Ship's Coat of Arms Ship's History About Butte's last deployment as AE 27 Image Gallery to end of page

USNS Butte (T-AE 27)

- formerly AE 27 -
- decommissioned -
- sunk as a target -

USNS BUTTE was the second KILAUEA - class Ammunition Ship. Transfered to the Military Sealift Command in 1996, the BUTTE was both decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list on May 24, 2004. The ship spend the following two years berthed at the NAVSEA Inactive Ships On-site Maintenance Office, Philadelphia, Penn., serving as a logistics support asset. On June 29, 2006, the BUTTE was sunk as a target off the US east coast using Maverick and Harpoon missiles and a MK-48 torpedo.

General Characteristics:Awarded: March 30, 1965
Keel laid: July 21, 1966
Launched: August 9, 1967
Commissioned: December 14, 1968
Decommissioned: June 3, 1996
MSC "in service": June 3, 1996
Deactivated: May 24, 2004
Builder: General Dynamics, Quincy, Massachusetts
Propulsion system: 3 Foster-Wheeler boilers; 600 psi (42.3kg/cm²); 870°F (467°C); 1 turbine, 22,000 hp (16.4 MW); Automated Propulsion System (APS)
Propellers: one (six bladed)
Length: 564,3 feet (172 meters)
Beam: 81 feet (24.7 meters)
Draft: 28 feet (8.5 meters)
Displacement: approx. 20,000 tons full load
Speed: 20 knots
Aircraft: two CH-46 helicopters
Armament: none
Crew: 125 civilians, 55 naval personnel (including a helicopter detachment)

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Crew List:

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

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Accidents aboard USS/USNS BUTTE:

September 3, 1974off Norfolk, Va.Shortly after getting underway in Norfolk, Va., USS BUTTE suffers a major fire in the main switchboard, disrupting all ship support electrical supply. BUTTE is towed back to the naval base for repairs which include replacing the switchboard.

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About the Ship's Coat of Arms:

The dominant figure of the US(N)S BUTTE insignia is a silhouette representing a modern ammunition ship. The silhouetted helicopter represents the ship's vertical replenishment capability. The butte in the background is emblematic of the ship's name and of its relationship with Butte, Montana. The chain which encloses the plaque is symbolic of the ship's vital link with the combatant forces and of USS BUTTE's capability for ammunition delivery around the world. The four stars in the bottom half of the circle, represent BUTTE's assignment to Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. The two stars above the ship's silhouette represent her primary assignment under the operational control of Commander, SECOND Fleet. The total of six stars is emblematic of her primary source of deployment, the Mediterranean, under the operational control of Commander, SIXTH Fleet.

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Early History of US(N)S BUTTE:

USS BUTTE was christened and launched August 7, 1967 in Quincy, Massachusetts and commissioned December 14, 1968 in the Boston Naval Shipyard. She was fitted out in Boston and was moved to her homeport of Norfolk, Virginia in December 1969. In July 1978, her homeport was temporarily shifted to Brooklyn, New York where she underwent a major overhaul. In June 1979, her homeport then became Naval Weapons Station Earle, Leonardo, New Jersey. BUTTE underwent another major overhaul in Mobile, Alabama from August 1985 to May 1986 and a short Phased Maintenance refitting yard period from April 1988 to September 1988.

Over the next eight months, USS BUTTE was very busy preparing for upcoming assignments, including a deployment to the Mediterranean in May 1989. She passed every inspection with flying colors and got underway on 31 May 1989 for a five and one-half month deployment.

USS BUTTE has serviced more than 900 ships and has made thirteen major deployments along with several short cruises for "shakedown and training." The first was in the Western Pacific from December 1972 to July 1973 where she operated in the Tonkin Gulf and was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal with one battle star. Twelve of BUTTE's deployments were to the SIXTH Fleet in the Mediterranean. During the 1970 Jordan crises, the ship was awarded a Meritorious Unit Citation for her peacekeeping role in that operation. BUTTE was awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal for a 1981 Indian Ocean deployment which also took her to the Mediterranean. A 1983 deployment took BUTTE to the shores of Beirut, Lebanon where she was awarded a second Navy Expeditionary Medal for her support of U.S. Embassies overseas, including those in Beirut, Lebanon and Tunis, Tunisia. During a 1984-85 Mediterranean deployment, she was rated as best ship in Service Squadron Two and, in May 1985, was awarded the Battle Efficiency "E" in Engineering, Damage Control, Command Control and Communications, Navigation/Deck Seamanship and Fleet Support. USS BUTTE was a big part of "OPERATION GOLDENROD" during a 1987 Mediterranean deployment when she helped with the arrest of two Lebanese terrorists in international waters off the coast of Lebanon. For the period 1 October 1987 to 30 March 1988, BUTTE was again awarded the Battle "E" Efficiency Award, demonstrating outstanding performance in Deck Seamanship, Communications, and Navigation.

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About BUTTE's last deployment as AE 27:

Headline: USS Butte Plans Return From Deployment
By LTJG Shanti Sethi

USS BUTTE (AE 27) - (NENS) -- USS BUTTE is scheduled to return to its Earle, N.J., homeport Feb. 24, 1996, after spending nearly six months operating in the Mediterranean Sea. BUTTE, part of the USS AMERICA (CV 66) Battle Group, spent the first month of the deployment on station in the Adriatic Sea, supporting the air strikes in Bosnia as part of Operation Deliberate Force.

In October, BUTTE's crew visited Naples, Italy, home of Commander Task Force 63, the ship's deployed commander and logistics manager in the Mediterranean. The ship also visited Cannes, France as the U.S. Navy's representative to the annual Admiral De Grasse birthday celebration. Admiral De Grasse was known for his contribution to the American victory at the battle of Yorktown.

In November, BUTTE underwent a two-week maintenance period while anchored in Augusta Bay, Sicily alongside USS SIMON LAKE (AS 33).

In mid November, BUTTE headed south through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea. The ship delivered turkeys and other supplies for holiday meals to United States embassies in Jordan, Eritrea, Yemen and Djibouti.

Upon departure from the Arabian Gulf, BUTTE returned to the Adriatic, supporting the NATO Peace Implementation Forces in Operation Joint Endeavor. BUTTE also made a port visit to Rota, Spain for the Christmas and New Year holidays. The Morale, Welfare and Recreation Committee sponsored Christmas parties, and crew members enjoyed tours to towns in the Cadiz area and Seville, Spain; and Tangier, Morocco.

Between operations in the Adriatic in January and February, BUTTE spent its time completing ammunition exchange and "rollback" among the ammunition facilities in the Mediterranean.

In keeping with its motto, "We Keep the Guns Loaded," BUTTE transferred 1,186.60 tons of ammunition worth $105,690,297.80 to 34 fleet units and shore stations. BUTTE's embarked helicopters flew 176 sorties, logging more than 432 hours, and delivered 24,700 tons of mail and 366 personnel.

BUTTE will decommission June 3 after 28 years of dedicated service to the fleet. It will continue service as part of the Military Sealift Command.


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The photos below were taken by Paul R. Shepard and show the BUTTE being sunk on June 29, 2006. A Mk-48 torpedo caused her keel and hull to break.

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