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SS Comet (T-AKR 7)

- formerly USNS COMET (T-AKR 7), formerly USNS COMET (T-LSV 7), formerly USNS COMET (T-AK 269) -

no coat of arms

Built for the Military Sea Transportation Service (later Military Sealift Command) to operate in the northern Atlantic as a vehicle cargo ship, the COMET initially entered service as T-AK 269. Redesignated as T-LSV 7 on January 1, 1963, and later as T-AKR 7, the ship continued service in the northern Atlantic until relieved by the ADM. WM. M. CALLAGHAN (T-AKR 1001) in the 1970th. The COMET later transfered to the US west coast and was assigned to the MARAD Ready Reserve Force in March 1986, causing the loss of her USNS designation. Today, the COMET is laid-up at Suisun Bay, Calif., as part of the National Defence Reserve Fleet.

The COMET is fitted with an enforced bow for arctic operations and is the fourth ship in the Navy to bear the name.

General Characteristics:Launched: July 31, 1957
Delivered: January 27, 1958
Builder: Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Chester, PA.
Propulsion system: two boilers, two steam turbines
Propellers: two
Length: 499 feet (152.1 meters)
Beam: 78 feet (23.8 meters)
Draft: 28.9 feet (8.8 meters)
Displacement: approx. 18,286 tons full load
Speed: 16+ knots
Aircraft: none
Armament: none
Capacity: up to 700 vehicles and cargo
Crew: 56
Homeport: Suisun Bay, Calif.

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Crew List:

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

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SS COMET History:

Affectionately known by the nickname “Mother of All Ro/Ros,” (Ro/Ro, or Roll-on-Roll, off describes how cargo is loaded and unloaded) the former USNS COMET is a vehicle landing ship originally built for the US Navy. The lone ship of its class, it is named for the luminous astronomical body, and was the fourth US naval vessel to bear the name. COMET was built at Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company of Chester, Pennsylvania and was delivered in January 1958. The COMET is considered to be the first oceangoing “Roll On/Roll Off” vessel. The COMET operated as part of the common user fleet of the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS), later Military Sealift Command (MSC). It was a notable participant in the US response to the Lebanon Crisis in 1958.

In October 1961 Defense Secretary Robert McNamara projected that construction of five COMET -class Ro/Ro ships would begin in fiscal year 1963. Although the full program did not come to pass, COMET’s military capabilities eventually came to revolutionize defense sealift, with large squadrons of multi-purpose Ro/Ro vessels dominating the MSC fleet by the latter half of the 1990s. An enlarged sisterly vessel, the SEA LIFT (later renamed METEOR (T-AKR 9)) was delivered to MSTS in 1967.

COMET was among a number of MSC cargo vessels assigned to the Ready Reserve Force (RRF) in Fiscal Year 1984, with administrative control transferred to the Maritime Administration. Full title transfer came in the early 1990s. COMET was stationed in the San Francisco Bay area and participated in numerous RRF exercises, and in the major deployment for Operations DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM. COMET’s last service was for Operation IRAQI FREDOM in 2003. Upon its return from this service, the COMET was placed in a reduced operating status in Alameda, California. It was downgraded from RRF status in 2006 and laid-up in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet.

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The photos below were taken by me and show the COMET berthed at Alameda, Calif., on July 18, 2006.

The photo below was taken by me and shows the COMET laid-up at Suisun Bay, Calif., on March 27, 2010.

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