USNS Wheeling (T-AGM-8)

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For other ships with the same name, see USS Wheeling.
United States
Name: USNS Wheeling
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
General characteristics
Type: Wheeling-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
Armament: none

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[edit]

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.

World War II-related service[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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.[citation needed] Details of how and when the ship sank, or was otherwise disposed of, are lacking.