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SS Maj. Stephen W. Pless (T-AK 3007)

- Military Sealift Command -

no coat of arms

Built as commercial container ship CHARLES CARROLL in 1983, the ship was purchased by the Maritime Administration (MARAD) in May 1984 and subsequently entered the NASSCO shipyard for conversion to a maritime prepositioning ship. The conversion was finished in May 1985 and the ship entered service as SS MAJ. STEPHEN W. PLESS becoming the first ship in the Navy named after US Marine Corps Major Stephen W. Pless.

The MAJ. STEPHEN W. PLESS is operated by the Waterman Steamship Co.

General Characteristics:Delivered: March 1983
Builder: General Dynamics, Quincy, Mass.
Purchased by MARAD: May 1984
Conversion yard: National Steel and Shipbuilding, San Diego, CA
Conversion started: May 1984
Delivered: May 1985
Propulsion system: Steam turbines, 2 boilers
Propellers: one
Length: 821.5 feet (250.4 meters)
Beam: 105.6 feet (32.2 meters)
Draft: 33.1 feet (10.1 meters)
Displacement: approx. 48,750 tons full load
Speed: 20 knots
Aircraft: helicopter platform only
Armament: none
  • 152,524 sq. ft. vehicle
  • 1,544,000 gallons petroleum
  • 94,780 gallons water
  • 540 TEU
Crew: 34 civilians, 10 technicians
Homeport: Europe

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Crew List:

This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard SS MAJ. STEPHEN W. PLESS. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.

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About the Ship's Name:

SS MAJ. STEPHEN W. PLESS is named in honor of US Marine Corps Maj. Stephen W. Pless who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions near Quang Ngai, Republic of Vietnam, on 19 August 1967.


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a helicopter gunship pilot attached to Marine Observation Squadron Six in action against enemy forces near Quang Ngai, Republic of Vietnam, on 19 August 1967. During an escort mission Major (then Captain) Pless monitored an emergency call that four Amercian soldiers stranded on a nearby beach, were being overwhelmed by a large Viet Cong force. Major Pless flew to the scene and found 30 to 50 enemy soldiers in the open. Some of the enemy were bayonetting and beating the downed Americans. Major Pless displayed exceptional airmanship as he launched a devastating attack against the enemy force, killing or wounding many of the enemy and driving the remainder back into a treeline. His rocket and machine gun attacks were made at such low levels that the aircraft flew through the debris created by explosions from its rockets. Seeing one of the wounded soldiers gesture for assistance, he maneuvered his helicopter into a position between the wounded men and the enemy, providing a shield which permitted his crew to retrieve the wounded. During the rescue the enemy directed intense fire at the helicopter and rushed the aircraft again and again, closing to within a few feet before being beaten back. When the wounded men were aboard, Major Pless maneuvered the helicopter out to sea. Before it became safely airborne, the overloaded aircraft settled four times into the water. Displaying superb airmanship, he finally got the helicopter aloft. Major Plessí extraordinary heroism coupled with his outstanding flying skill prevented the annihilation of the tiny force. His courageous actions reflect great credit upon himself and uphold the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

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