USS Watchman (AGR-16)

USS Watchman (AGR-16) was a Guardian-class radar picket ship, converted from a Liberty Ship, acquired by the US Navy in 1958. She was reconfigured as a radar picket ship and assigned to radar picket duty in the North Pacific Ocean as part of the Distant Early Warning Line.

USS Watchman (AGR-16) entering San Francisco Bay
History
United States
Name: Vernon S. Hood
Namesake: Vernon S. Hood
Owner: War Shipping Administration (WSA)
Operator: Overlakes Freight Co.
Ordered: as type (EC2-S-C5) hull, MC hull 2343
Builder: J.A. Jones Construction, Panama City, Florida[1]
Cost: $1,061,814[2]
Yard number: 84
Way number: 6
Laid down: 17 January 1945
Launched: 20 February 1945
Sponsored by: Mrs. Inez Bulifant
Completed: 7 March 1945
Identification:
Fate: Placed in the, National Defense Reserve Fleet, James River Reserve Fleet, Lee Hall, Virginia, 1947
Status: Acquired by US Navy, 1958
United States
Name: Watchman
Namesake: One who watches
Commissioned: 5 January 1959
Decommissioned: 7 July 1965
Reclassified: Guardian-class radar picket ship
Refit: Charleston Naval Shipyard, Charleston, South Carolina
Struck: 1 September 1965
Identification:
Fate: Placed in the, National Defense Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay, California, 1 September 1965
Status: Sold for scrapping, 3 October 1974
General characteristics [4]
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)[3]
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

Watchman (YAGR-16) was laid down on 17 January 1945, under a Maritime Commission (MARCOM) contract, MC hull 2343, as the Liberty Ship Vernon S. Hood, by J.A. Jones Construction, Panama City, Florida. She was launched 20 February 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Inez Bulifant; and delivered 7 March 1945, to MARCOM.[3][5]

Service history

Merchant service

Following a shakedown cruise in the Gulf of Mexico, the freighter was turned over to the Overlakes Freight Corporation, to be operated by that firm under a contract with the MARCOM. During her brief period of active operations with MARCOM, 1945 to 1947, she also served under contract with the Moore-McCormack Lines. Later that year, she was placed out of service and was berthed with the James River Reserve Fleet, Lee Hall, Virginia.[5]

US Navy service

The ship remained there until mid-1958 when she was taken over by the US Navy and converted to a radar picket ship at the Charleston Navy Yard, Charleston, South Carolina. During conversion, she was renamed Watchman and received the designation YAGR-16. However, that designation was changed to AGR-16 before she completed her conversion late in the year. On 5 January 1958, Watchman was placed in commission at Charleston, Lieutenant Commander Irvin Boaz in command.[5]

Watchman conducted shakedown training in the Guantanamo Bay operating area during February. Following post-shakedown availability at Charleston, from 5 to 18 March, she completed repairs and got underway for the US West Coast. After transiting the Panama Canal, and visiting Acapulco, Mexico, she arrived in her new home port, San Francisco, California, on 11 April.[5]

Assigned to the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), she served as one of several radar picket ships operating as seaborne extensions of the command's contiguous radar coverage system. She operated from her base at San Francisco, during her entire naval career, spending an average of 200 days per year actually at sea engaged in picket patrols.[5]

That routine continued until 1 September 1965, at which time she and the remaining AGR's were placed out of commission.[5]

Decommissioning

Her name was struck from the Navy List 1 September 1965, and she was returned to the Maritime Administration (MARAD) for lay up with the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay, California. She remained there until 3 October 1974, when she was sold to American Ship Dismantlers for scrapping.[5]

Honors and awards

Watchman's crew was eligible for the following medals:

[3]

References

Bibliography

  • "Watchman". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History and Heritage Command. 26 October 2015. Retrieved 6 December 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 6 December 2019.
  • Davies, James (May 2004). "Specifications (As-Built)" (PDF). p. 23. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  • "SS Vernon S. Hood". Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  • "USS Watchman (AGR-16)". Navsource.org. 9 October 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2019.


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