SS Denebola (T-AKR-289)

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USNS Denebola (T-AKR-289).JPEG
USNS Denebola (T-AKR-289) in Mogadishu, Somalia, on 7 February 1994.
United States of America
Name: S.S. Denebola
Namesake: Denebola
Owner: United States Maritime Administration
Operator: Keystone Shipping Company
Port of registry: Norfolk, VA
Builder: Rotterdamsche D.D.Mij N.V
Launched: 1 November 1973
Acquired: 27 October 1981
Honors and
Status: Ready Reserve in Locust Point, Baltimore
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 4 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
Capacity: 700+ military vehicles (including trucks, tanks, and helicopters)
Complement: 43 civilians, 12 military technicians (fully operational), 18 civilians (reduced operating status)
Armament: None
Aviation facilities: Landing pad

SS Denebola (T-AKR 289) 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 (RRF). She was built as a high speed container ship by Rotterdamsche D.D.Mij N.V. in Rotterdam, Netherlands, hull no. 332, for Sea-Land Service, Inc. and named SS Sea-Land Resource, USCG ON 550723, IMO 7325253.[1][2] Due to her high operating cost, she was sold to the United States Navy in October 1981 as USNS Denebola (T-AK-289).[3]

In keeping with the pattern of the naming the Algol-class ships after bright stars, the Denebola was named after Denebola, the third-brightest star in the constellation Leo.


Conversion began on 22 November 1983 at Pennsylvania Shipbuilding in Chester, Pennsylvania. 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 on 10 October 1985 as USNS Denebola (T-AKR 289).[4]


When not active, Denebola 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] Denebola 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.[6] In 1994, Denebola, along with USNS Capella (T-AKR-293), worked with NATO forces on convoy exercises in the Mediterranean.[6]

On 1 October 2007, Denebola was transferred to the United States Maritime Administration. On 1 October 2008, she was transferred to the Ready Reserve Force, losing her USNS designation.[6][7] If activated, Denebola will report to the Military Sealift Command and change her prefix designation from SS to USNS.[3]


  1. ^ Cudahay 206 p. 265
  2. ^ a b 'USNS Denebola (T-AKR 289)', retrieved 7 April 2009
  3. ^ a b Ready Reserve Force Ships, retrieved 7 April 2009
  4. ^ 'Service Ship Photo Archive: SS Denebola (AKR-289)', retrieved 7 April 2009
  5. ^ Cargo – Fast Sealift – Support (FSS), Specialized, archived from the original on 14 May 2011, retrieved 5 April 2009
  6. ^ a b c 'U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command: Fact Sheet', December 2003, retrieved 7 April 2009
  7. ^ 'Fast Sealift Ships – T-AKR', 22 January 2008, retrieved 7 April 2009
  • Cudahay, Brian J. (2006). Box Boats: How Container Ships Changed the World. Fordham University Press. ISBN 9780823225699.