USNS Wheeling (T-AGM-8)
|Namesake:||A city on the Ohio border of West Virginia's panhandle. Wheeling is the seat of government for Ohio County|
|Builder:||Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, Portland, Oregon|
|Laid down:||10 April 1945, as Seton Hall Victory, type (VC2-S-AP3), hull, MCV hull 686|
|Sponsored by:||Mrs. Ross Mclntyre|
|Acquired:||by the Navy in 1962|
|In service:||28 May 1964 as USNS Wheeling (T-AGM-8)|
|Out of service:||date unknown|
|Struck:||31 October 1990|
|Fate:||assumed sunk from a 1981 Harpoon missile exercise attack|
|Type:||Wheeling-class missile range instrumentation ship|
|Tons burthen:||11,500 tons|
|Propulsion:||cross compound steam turbine, single screw, 8,500shp|
USNS Wheeling (T-AGM-8) was a Wheeling-class missile range instrumentation ship acquired by the U.S. Navy in 1962 and converted from her Victory ship cargo configuration to a missile tracking ship, a role she retained for a number of years before being sunk as a target by Harpoon missiles on 12 July 1981.
Victory ship built in Oregon
The second ship to be so named by the Navy, Wheeling was laid down on 10 April 1945 as Seton Hall Victory by the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation under a U.S. Maritime Commission contract (MCV hull 686); launched on 22 May 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Ross Mclntyre; and delivered to the Maritime Commission on 21 June 1945.
From July 1945 to September 1957, Seton Hall Victory was operated for the U.S. Maritime Commission by a succession of civilian contractors, beginning with the Olympic Steamship Line and ending with Pope & Talbot, Inc. In September 1957, she was placed out of service and was berthed in Virginia's James River with the National Defense Reserve Fleet.
Conversion to missile tracker
Late in 1962, she was turned over to the Navy Department for conversion to a missile range instrumentation ship. On 19 March 1963, she was renamed Wheeling and designated AGM-8. On 28 May 1964, Wheeling was assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service to be operated by a civil service crew in support of operations on the Navy's Pacific Missile Range.
Wheeling spent her missile tracking years as a mobile tracking station, recording data on missiles and satellites that were out of range of land-based stations. For a number of years she remained on active service on the Pacific coast.
Inactivation and sinking
Wheeling remained in service until (date unknown) and was struck from the Navy List on 31 October 1990. However, during a naval exercise on 12 July 1981 she was assigned as target ship for Harpoon missile testing. She was struck by two Harpoons, one launched from a submarine and one from a P-3 Orion aircraft. A third Harpoon, planned for launch from a ship, was not launched. Details of how and when the ship sank, or was otherwise disposed of, are lacking.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive - T-AGM-8 Wheeling