USNS Spica (T-AFS-9)

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United States
Name: USNS Spica
Ordered: For the Royal Navy as RFA Tarbatness (A-345)
Builder: Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., Wallsend-On-Tyne, United Kingdom
Laid down: 1 April 1965
Launched: 1 February 1967
Acquired: Purchased by the U.S. Navy, 1 November 1981
In service: 1 November 1981, as USNS Spica (T-AFS-9)
Out of service: 26 January 2008
Honors and
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
Fate: Sunk as target 6 May 2009
General characteristics
Class and type: Sirius-class combat stores ship
Tonnage: 6475 deadweight tonnage
Displacement: 10,205 tons
Tons burthen: 16,680 tons
Length: 523 ft (159 m) o/a
Beam: 72 ft (22 m)
Draft: 26 ft (7.9 m) (max.)
Propulsion: 1 × diesel engine, 11,520 bhp (8,590 kW), single propeller
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h)
Complement: 123 Civilian, 47 Navy
Armament: None
Aircraft carried: 2 × UH-46 Sea Knight helicopters

USNS Spica (T-AFS-9), was a combat stores ship acquired by the U.S. Navy from the United Kingdom in 1981. She served as part of the Military Sealift Command until she was deactivated in 2008.

Before her U.S. Navy career, Spica served the United Kingdom's Royal Fleet Auxiliary as RFA Tarbatness (A345).

Built in England[edit]

RFA Tarbatness (A345) was built at Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., Wallsend-On-Tyne, England, for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. She was laid down on 1 April 1965 and was launched on 1 February 1967.

Purchased by the U.S. Navy[edit]

Spica was purchased by the U.S. Navy and placed into non-commissioned service as a combat stores ship on 1 November 1981 as the USNS Spica (T-AFS-9), a unit of the Military Sealift Command (MSC) Naval Auxiliary Force Atlantic.


Spica’s mission was to provide underway replenishment in support of naval forces by providing refrigerated supplies, dry supplies, spare parts, general supplies, fleet freight, mail, and replacement personnel by alongside or by vertical replenishment processes.

Operational history[edit]

There is no current operational history on Spica.

Honors and awards[edit]

Spica was authorized the following awards:[1]

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star


Spica was inactivated on 26 January 2008 and turned over to the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for disposal.[2] She was sunk as a target on 6 May 2009.[2]


There is no journal entry on Spica (T-AFS-9) at DANFS.


  • Photo gallery of USNS Spica (T-AFS-9) – ex-RFA Tarbatness (A-345) at NavSource Naval History