SS Algol (T-AKR-287)

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USNS Algol (T-AKR-287).jpg
USNS Algol (T-AKR-287) in Antwerp, Belgium.
United States
Name: Algol
Namesake: Algol
Owner: United States Maritime Administration
Builder: Rotterdamsche D.D.Mij N.V
Laid down: 1 November 1971
Launched: 1 September 1972
Acquired: October 1981
Honors and
Status: Ready Reserve
General characteristics
Class and type: Algol-class vehicle cargo ship
Displacement: 55,355 tons (full)
Length: 946 ft 2 in (288 m)
Beam: 105 ft 6 in (32 m)
Draft: 36 ft 7 in (11 m)
  • 2 × Foster-Wheeler boilers, 875 psi (61.6 kg/cm2)
  • 2 × GE MST-19 steam turbines; 120,000 hp (89.5 MW)
Speed: 33 knots (61 km/h; 38 mph)
Capacity: 700+ military vehicles (including trucks, tanks, and helicopters)
Crew: 43 civilians, 12 military technicians (fully operational), 18 civilians (reduced operating status)
Aviation facilities: Landing pad

SS Algol (T-AKR 287) is an Algol-class vehicle cargo ship that is currently maintained by the United States Maritime Administration as part of the Military Sealift Command's Ready Reserve Force. She was built as a high speed container ship by Rotterdamsche D.D.Mij N.V. in Rotterdam, Netherlands, hull no. 331, for Sea-Land Service, Inc. and named SS Sea-Land Exchange, USCG ON 546383, IMO 7303205.[1][2] Due to her high operating cost, Sea-Land Exchange was sold to the United States Navy in October 1981 as USNS Algol (T-AK-287).[3]

In keeping with the pattern of the naming the Algol-class ships after bright stars, Algol was named after the bright eclipsing binary star Algol, known colloquially as the Demon Star, which is a bright star in the constellation Perseus.


Conversion began on 13 October 1982 at National Steel and Shipbuilding in San Diego, California. Her cargo hold was redesigned into a series of decks connected by ramps so vehicles can be driven into and out of the cargo hold for fast loading and unloading. She was also fitted with two sets of two cranes; one set located at midship capable of lifting 35 tons, and another set located aft capable of lifting 50 tons.[2] She was delivered to the Military Sealift Command in 1984 as USNS Algol (T-AKR 287).[4]


When not active, Algol is kept in reduced operating status due to her high operating cost. If needed, she can be activated and ready to sail in 96 hours.[5] In 1984, Algol was the first Fast Sealift Ship to take part in a European exercise when she took part in the NATO exercise, Operation REFORGER.[6] Algol took part in the Persian Gulf War in 1990. Along with the other seven Algol-class cargo ships, she transported 14 percent of all cargo delivered between the United States and Saudi Arabia during and after the war.[7] In October 1998, Algol was activated to carry disaster relief supplies and equipment to Puerto Rico and other nearby islands following the aftermath of Hurricane Georges.[7] In early 2003, Algol was activated to take part in Operation Iraqi Freedom.[7]

On 1 October 2007, Algol was transferred to the United States Maritime Administration. On 1 October 2008, Algol was transferred to the Ready Reserve Force, losing her USNS designation.[7][8] If activated, SS Algol will report to the Military Sealift Command.[3]


  1. ^ Cudahay 2006 p. 265
  2. ^ a b 'USNS Algol (T-AKR 287)', retrieved 4 April 2009 
  3. ^ a b Ready Reserve Force Ships, retrieved 4 April 2009 
  4. ^ 'Service Ship Photo Archive: SS Algol (AKR-287)', 19 September 2008, retrieved 4 April 2009 
  5. ^ Cargo – Fast Sealift – Support (FSS), Specialized, retrieved 4 April 2009 
  6. ^ DANFS: Algol, retrieved 4 April 2009 
  7. ^ a b c d 'U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command: Fact Sheet', December 2003, retrieved 4 April 2009 
  8. ^ 'Fast Sealift Ships – T-AKR', 22 January 2008, retrieved 4 April 2009 
  • Cudahay, Brian J. (2006). Box Boats: How Container Ships Changed the World. Fordham University Press. ISBN 9780823225699.