USS Skywatcher (AGR-3)

USS Skywatcher (YAGR/AGR-3) was a Guardian-class radar picket ship, converted from a Liberty Ship, acquired by the US Navy in 1954. She was converted into a radar picket ship and assigned to radar picket duty in the North Atlantic Ocean as part of the Distant Early Warning Line.

USS Skywatcher (AGR-3) underway, date and location unknown.
History
United States
Name: Rafeal R. Rivera
Namesake: Rafeal R. Rivera
Owner: War Shipping Administration (WSA)
Operator: States Marine Corp.
Ordered: as type (EC2-S-C5) hull, MC hull 2337
Builder: J.A. Jones Construction, Panama City, Florida[1]
Cost: $1,169,703[2]
Yard number: 78
Way number: 6
Laid down: 30 November 1944
Launched: 16 January 1945
Sponsored by: Mrs.Evelyn Anderson
Completed: 30 January 1945
Identification:
Fate: Placed in the, National Defense Reserve Fleet, 26 October 1947
Status: Acquired by US Navy, 20 September 1954
United States
Name: Skywatcher
Commissioned: 29 March 1955
Decommissioned: 29 March 1965
Reclassified: Guardian-class radar picket ship
Refit: Charleston Naval Shipyard, Charleston, South Carolina
Struck: 1 April 1965
Identification:
  • Hull symbol: YAGR-3 (1956–1958)
  • Hull symbol: AGR-3 (1958–1965)
Fate: Placed in National Defense Reserve Fleet
Status: Sold for scrapping, 23 December 1970, scrapped, December 1971
General characteristics [3]
Class and type:
Tonnage:
Displacement:
Length:
  • 441 feet 6 inches (135 m) oa
  • 416 feet (127 m) pp
  • 427 feet (130 m) lwl
Beam: 57 feet (17 m)
Draft: 27 ft 9.25 in (8.4646 m)
Installed power:
  • 2 × Oil fired 450 °F (232 °C) boilers, operating at 220 psi (1,500 kPa)
  • 2,500 hp (1,900 kW)
Propulsion:
Speed: 11.5 knots (21.3 km/h; 13.2 mph)
Capacity: 490,000 cubic feet (13,875 m3) (bale)
Complement:
Armament:
General characteristics (US Navy refit)[4]
Class and type: Guardian-class radar picket ship
Capacity:
  • 443,646 US gallons (1,679,383 l; 369,413 imp gal) (fuel oil)
  • 68,267 US gallons (258,419 l; 56,844 imp gal) (diesel)
  • 15,082 US gallons (57,092 l; 12,558 imp gal) (fresh water)
  • 1,326,657 US gallons (5,021,943 l; 1,104,673 imp gal) (fresh water ballast)
Complement:
  • 13 officers
  • 138 enlisted
Armament: 2 × 3 inches (76 mm)/50 caliber guns

Construction

Skywatcher (YAGR-3) was laid down on 30 November 1944, under a Maritime Commission (MARCOM) contract, MC hull 2337, as the Liberty Ship Rafael R. Rivera, by J.A. Jones Construction, Panama City, Florida. She was launched on 16 January 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Evelyn Anderson; and delivered 25 June 1945, to the States Marine Corporation.[5][2]

Service history

Seacowboys

In 1946, after World War II, Rafael R. Rivera was converted to a livestock ship, also called a cowboy ship. From 1945 to 1947, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration and the Brethren Service Committee of the Church of the Brethren sent livestock to war-torn countries. These "seagoing cowboys" made about 360 trips on 73 different ships. The Heifers for Relief project was started by the Church of the Brethren in 1942; in 1953, this became Heifer International.[6] Rafael R Rivera was one of these ships, known as cowboy ships, as she moved livestock across the Atlantic Ocean. Rafael R Rivera moved horses, heifers, and mules, as well as a some chicks, rabbits, and goats.[7][8][9]

US Navy service

She was acquired by the US Navy, 20 September 1954, and converted at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Norfolk, Virginia, into an ocean station radar ship. She was commissioned on 29 March 1955, Lieutenant Commander John Ante, in command.[5][4]

In July 1955, she assumed her first duties in the Contiguous Radar Coverage System of the United States while operating out of Newport, Rhode Island.[5]

In September 1958, the ship's designation was changed from YAGR-3 to radar picket ship AGR-3. Her home port was changed to Davisville, Rhode Island, and she operated from there until early 1965, with Radar Picket Squadron 2, spending over 50 percent of her time on her assigned picket station.[5]

Decommissioning

In March 1965, Skywatcher was placed in reserve, out of commission, and struck from the Navy List on 1 April 1965. She was sold on 23 December 1970, to Daewood Corp., Ltd., of Karachi, Pakistan.[5] She was resold again for scrapping and in December 1971, she arrived at Santander, Spain, to be scrapped.[4]

See also

References

Bibliography

  • "Skywatcher". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History and Heritage Command. 30 August 2016. Retrieved 27 November 2019. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  • "Jones Construction, Panama City FL". www.ShipbuildingHistory.com. 13 October 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  • Davies, James (May 2004). "Specifications (As-Built)" (PDF). p. 23. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  • "SS Rafael R. Rivera". Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  • "USS Skywatcher (AGR-3)". Navsource.org. 11 April 2019. Retrieved 27 November 2019.



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