USNS Watertown (T-AGM-6)

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Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, SS Niantic Victory with her sister ships 1944
United States
Name: Niantic Victory
Namesake: Niantic, Connecticut
Owner: War Shipping Administration
Operator: American-Hawaiian SS Company
Ordered: as type (VC2-S-AP3) hull, MCV hull 100
Builder: Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, Portland, Oregon
Laid down: February 12, 1944
Launched: April 25, 1944
Completed: May 18, 1944
Out of service: 1948, Laid up Wilmington, then transferred to Suisun Bay.
Fate: Transferred to US Navy in 1960
United States
Name: USNS Watertown
Namesake: Cities and towns in the states of Massachusetts, New York, South Dakota, and Wisconsin
Acquired: by the Navy in 1960
In service: 11 August 1960 as USNS Watertown (T-AGM-6)
Out of service: 1971
Struck: 16 February 1971
Fate: sold 23 May 1974 and scrapped in Pusan.
General characteristics
Type: VC2-S-AP3 Victory ship then Watertown-class missile range instrumentation ship
Tonnage: 4,512 tons
Tons burthen: 11,500 tons
Length: 455' 3"
Beam: 62' 2"
Draft: 28' 6"
Propulsion: cross compound steam turbine, single screw, 8,500shp
Speed: 15.5 knots
Complement: 56 personnel
Notes: [1]

USNS Watertown (T-AGM-6) was a Watertown-class missile range instrumentation ship acquired by the U.S. Navy in 1960 and converted from her SS Niantic Victory Victory ship cargo configuration to a missile tracking ship, a role she retained for eleven years before being placed out of service in 1971.

Victory ship constructed in Oregon[edit]

Niantic Victory was laid down on 12 February 1944 at Portland, Oregon, by the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation under a U.S. Maritime Commission contract (MCV hull 100); launched on 25 April 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Marvin Owen; and delivered to the Maritime Commission on 18 May 1944. She was built is just 96 days under the Emergency Shipbuilding program by the War Shipping Administration.

Maritime service[edit]

World War II[edit]

From 1944 until 1957, Niantic Victory was operated for the U.S. Maritime Commission by a succession of contractor firms. Her first operator was the American-Hawaiian Steamship Line for service during World War II starting on 18 May 1944. She supplied cargo in the Pacific Ocean for the Pacific War. After the war on November 6, 1946 she was operated by Waterman SS Corporation as part of the Marshall Plan. On May 30, 1948 after completing her relief efforts she was removed from service and placed in the National Defense Reserve Fleet in Wilmington, N.C.. She was laid up till August 24, 1950, but with a new war starting in the Far East she was remove cleaned up and chartered to Union Sulphur and Oil Company.

Korean War[edit]

During the Korean War she was operated by the Union Sulphur and Oil Company. SS Niantic Victory served as merchant marine naval supplying goods for the Korean War. About 75 percent of the personnel taking to Korean from the Korean War came by the merchant marine. SS Niantic Victory transported goods, mail, food and other supplies. About 90 percent of the cargo was moved by merchant marine naval to the war zone. SS Niantic Victory made trip between 18 November 1950 and 23 December 1952 helping American forces engaged against Communist aggression in South Korea.[2][3] At the end of the war on 8 April 1955 her operator was changed to Pope and Talbot SS Company. On 11 December 1956 operator was changed to Isbrandtsen Company till 1957. She was laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet in Suisun Bay, Benecia, Ca. on January 24, 1958.

US Navy[edit]

On August 11, 1960 she was transferred to the US Navy. She was reassigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) for conversion to a Missile Range Instrumentation Ship. She conversion was complete on November 27, 1960 and she was renamed the USNS Watertown (T-AGM-6). She was lead ship of three ships in her class.[4]

Missile tracking service[edit]

Niantic Victory was now the Navy Department Military Sea Transportation Service range instrumentation ship, USNS Watertown (T-AGM-6). For the next 11 years, she served in the Pacific Ocean in support of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Air Force on the latter service's Western Missile Test Range. She operated as a mobile tracking station, recording test data from missiles and satellites out of range of land-based stations.

Watertown carried instrumentation to track and record flight events for military missile and NASA manned spacecraft, extending the coverage of the tracking network over the Pacific Ocean. She was slated at one time to be part of the Apollo 8 recovery team but was dropped from the program. In 1969, she called at Pitcairn Island.[5]

Two other ships were reconfigured in to this new class, Watertown-class missile range instrumentation ship, the USNS Huntsville (T-AGM-7) and the USNS Wheeling (T-AGM-8).


In February 1971, the Air Force decided that it no longer required Watertown's services and she was removed from service. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 16 February 1972, and she was returned to the Maritime Administration at its berthing facility at Suisun Bay, California, on 23 May 1974. She was sold to Dongkuk Steel Mill Co., Ltd on 23 May 1974 and scrapped in Pusan, South Korea. She arrived in South Korea on 16 July 1974.


  1. ^ Babcock & Wilcox (April 1944). "Victory Ships". Marine Engineering and Shipping Review. 
  2. ^ Korean War Educator, Merchant Marine, Accounts of the Korean War
  3. ^ Small United States and United Nations Warships in the Korean War, page 118, By Paul M. Edwards
  4. ^, USNS Watertown (T-AGM-6)
  5. ^ The Navy of the Nuclear Age, 1947–2007 By Paul Silverstone