USS Belmont (AGTR-4)

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United States
Name: SS Iran Victory
Namesake: Iran
Owner: War Shipping Administration
Operator: Pacific-Atlantic Steamship Company
  • as SS Iran Victory
  • VC2-S-AP3 MCV-94 Hull 1010
Laid down: 25 January 1944
Launched: 24 March 1944
Completed: 4 May 1944
Fate: Transferred to US Navy February 1963, renamed USS Belmont
United States
Name: USS Belmont (AGTR-4)
Owner: US Navy
Operator: US Navy
Acquired: February 1963
Commissioned: 2 November 1964
Decommissioned: 16 January 1970
Struck: 16 January 1970
Homeport: Norfolk, Virginia
Fate: scrapped, 24 June 1970
Badge: USSBelmontAGTR-41964-1968logo.jpg
General characteristics
Class and type: VC2-S-AP3 Victory ship
Tonnage: 7612 GRT, 4,553 NRT
Displacement: 15,200 tons
Length: 455 ft (139 m)
Beam: 62 ft (19 m)
Draught: 28 ft (8.5 m)
Installed power: 8,500 shp (6,300 kW)
Propulsion: HP & LP turbines geared to a single 20.5-foot (6.2 m) propeller
Speed: 16.5 knots
Boats & landing
craft carried:
4 Lifeboats
Complement: 62 Merchant Marine and 28 US Naval Armed Guards as Victory ship. * 318 as USS Belmont
Notes: [1]

USS Belmont (AGTR-4/AG-167) was a Belmont-class technical research ship (a class of US spy ships of the early Cold War), acquired by the U.S. Navy in 1963 and converted for the task of conducting "research in the reception of electromagnetic propagations" (electronic signals intelligence gathering). She was originally built during World War II as a Victory cargo ship named SS Iran Victory.

SS Iran Victory in World War[edit]

SS Iran Victory was laid down on 25 January 1944 at Portland, Oregon, by the Oregon Shipbuilding Co. under a Maritime Commission contract (MCV hull 94) (1010) as a merchant marine naval cargo ship one of many Victory ship. She was launched on 25 March 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Peter Hegge; and delivered to the Maritime Commission on 23 April 1944. The Maritime Commission then turned her over to a civilian contractor, the Pacific-Atlantic Steamship Company, for operation. The cargo ship continued operations, manned by a civilian crew provided by a series of contractors, until she was laid up at Astoria, Oregon, with the National Defense Reserve Fleet sometime between April 1954 and April 1955.[2][3]

On 20 October 1944 the SS Iran Victory had the dangerous job of delivering ammunition for troops. The ammunition was for the US Central Philippine Attack Force.[4][5][6] She was in convoy of ship that held up a Kossol Roads in Oct. of 1944, till needed. The convoy of ships included: ammunition ships: Meridian Victory, Iran Victory, Bluefield Victory and Kishwaukee and escorted by the destroyer escorts: Lovelace, Neuendorf, Thomason, under the command of Comcortdiv Thirty-Seven.[7]

On SS Iran Victory third Voyage she loaded at Port Chicago and traveled to: Finchaven, Manus Island, Babelthuap, Leyte, Ulithi Atoll, Guam and home to San Pedro, Los Angeles. On 11 March 1945 while she was at the Ulithi Atoll the USS Randolph aircraft carrier was hit by a Kamikaze plane while the Iran Victory was berthed next to her.[8]

SS Iran Victory namesake[edit]

SS Iran Victory namesake is for the country of Iran, during World War II in 1941, Nazi Germany began Operation Barbarossa and invaded the Soviet Union. Iran had declared neutrality in World War II, but now found to be part of it.[9] As is 1941 after the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran, Reza Shah was forced to abdicate in favor of his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.[10][11] Thus Iran became a major conduit for British and American aid to the Soviet Union through out the war.[12] So important to the war effort was Iran that in 1943 the Allied "Big Three" (Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill) held the Tehran Conference in Iran. The Tehran Declaration gave post-war independence and boundaries of Iran.[13][14]

SS Iran Victory in Korean War[edit]

SS Iran Victory served as merchant marine naval supplying goods for the Korean War. About 75 percent of the personnel taking to Korean fro the Korean War came by the merchant marine. SS Iran transported ammunition, mail, food and other supplies. About 90 percent of the cargo was moved by merchant marine naval to the war zone.[15] SS Iran was acquired and renamed by the US Navy Belmont by the Navy, AGTR-4, the second ship to be named Belmont.

Acquired by the Navy[edit]

In February 1963, Iran Victory was acquired by the U.S. Navy and entered the Willamette Iron and Steel Co. yard at Portland, Oregon, for conversion to a spy ship, the first in her class of larger electronic spy vessels. On 8 June 1963, she was renamed USS Belmont and designated a miscellaneous auxiliary AG-167. She was redesignated a technical research ship AGTR-4 on 1 April 1964, and was commissioned at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on 2 November 1964, Comdr. Jerome E. Henderson in command.[16]

Assigned as technical research ship AGTR-4[edit]

Belmont completed outfitting at Puget Sound during November 1964, and on 2 December 1964 departed Bremerton, Washington, bound for her permanent assignment with the U.S. Atlantic Fleet at her new homeport, Norfolk, Virginia. She arrived there on 21 December 1964 and, exactly one month later, got underway for a five-week cruise to the West Indies, which included shakedown training and concluded with port visits to Kingston, Jamaica, and Key West, Florida. She returned to Hampton Roads, Virginia, on 1 March 1965 and entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a month of post-shakedown availability. Final acceptance trials occupied 29 and 30 March 1965, and preparations for her first operational deployment followed.

First operational deployment[edit]

On 26 April, Belmont passed between the Virginia Capes into the Atlantic Ocean and laid in a course for the West Indies. Two days at sea, the ship received orders to proceed to the vicinity of the Dominican Republic where, four days earlier, a revolt of left-wing factions had broken out. Belmont remained on station observing conditions until the middle of July. On the 13th, she headed back to Norfolk where she arrived four days later. After almost two months in port, the ship once more got underway on 14 September and spent about a month cruising in the West Indies before transiting the Panama Canal in mid-October. For the remainder of the year, she conducted operations along the western coast of South America, including visits to Valparaíso, Chile, and Callao, Peru.

Her second deployment to South America[edit]

New Years Day 1966 found her at anchor in Callao. Two days later she weighed anchor to return to the Panama Canal Zone. Belmont retransited the canal on 21 January 1966 and moored in Norfolk on the 28th, where she remained for almost seven weeks for upkeep and shipyard availability. On 16 March 1966, the ship embarked upon another deployment to the western coast of South America. She transited the Panama Canal on 28 and 29 March 1966 and, for the next eight weeks, cruised along the coasts of Peru and Chile. Belmont returned to the Panama Canal Zone for a five-day visit between 23 and 28 May 1966. On the latter day, she departed Panama and embarked upon five weeks of operations in order to spy on French atomic tests in French Polynesia (12 June 1966). The ship arrived back in the Panama Canal Zone on 13 July 1966, transited the canal on the 14th, and reentered Norfolk on the 20th.

After seven weeks of upkeep in her homeport, Belmont stood out to sea on 7 September 1966, bound for her third assignment in the Pacific coastal waters of South America. She transited the Panama Canal again on 19 September 1966, and two days later shaped a course for her zone of operations. At the conclusion of that assignment, the ship returned to the Canal Zone on 4 November 1966. She proceeded through the canal on 8 November 1966 and then set course for Norfolk. Belmont reentered her homeport on 14 November 1966, and spent the remainder of the year in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard installing communication gear.

Circumnavigation of the continent of South America[edit]

The spy ship spent the first month of 1967 completing the installation of her new communications equipment and testing it. On 1 February 1967, Belmont loosed her mooring lines to begin an extended cruise to the southern hemisphere — one that included a circumnavigation of the South American continent. Hydrographic and communications research highlighted the five-month voyage as did visits to sundry South American ports. Belmont completed her circuit of the South American continent on 3 June 1967 when she transited the Panama Canal and laid in a course for Norfolk. The technical research ship pulled into her homeport on 9 June 1967 and commenced a repair period. Her hull and various items of equipment received repairs over the next two months.

Rounding the Cape of Good Hope[edit]

On 14 August 1967, she stood out of the Chesapeake Bay bound for the Indian Ocean. The ship rounded the Cape of Good Hope on 5 October 1967, and spent the following six weeks engaged in special operations along the eastern coast of Africa. On 22 November 1967, she redoubled the cape and, after an overnight stop at Monrovia, Liberia on 2 and 3 December 1967, pointed her bow west for the homeward voyage. Belmont arrived back at Norfolk on 12 December 1967, and spent the remainder of the year engaged in holiday leave and upkeep.

Indian Ocean operations[edit]

USS Liberty (AGTR-5), second spy ship in Belmont class, in Chesapeake Bay on 29 July 1967, upon her return from the Mediterranean, where she had been attacked and seriously damaged by Israeli air and surface forces while operating off the Sinai Peninsula on 8 June 1967, during the Six-Day War

January 1968 found Belmont still at Norfolk. On the 26th, she began regular overhaul at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. She emerged revitalized on 14 May 1968 and put to sea to conduct refresher training in the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, operating area. The ship completed post-overhaul training on 14 June 1968 and, after a visit to San Juan, Puerto Rico, embarked upon her second deployment to the coasts of Africa. On 2 July 1968, she arrived off Cape Palmas and commenced operations along Africa's western coast. That phase of the assignment lasted until 25 September 1968, at which time she passed the Cape of Good Hope and entered the Indian Ocean. That portion of her mission proved relatively brief, occupying her time during the last week in September 1968 and the month of October 1968. On 1 November 1968, Belmont retraced her course around the Cape of Good Hope and steamed back into the Atlantic Ocean. The ship stopped over at Recife, Brazil, from 13 to 16 November 1968, and then headed for the northeastern coast of South America and a series of operations in that vicinity. Belmont completed the last mission of the cruise on 24 November 1968 and headed home. She moored at Norfolk on 28 November 1968 and remained there for the rest of 1968.

Operating with the U.S. Sixth Fleet[edit]

During the first half of 1969, Belmont stayed in or, infrequently, operated near Norfolk. A restricted availability followed by sea trials occupied the first three months of the year. Early in April 1969, she began installation of additional equipment. May 1969 brought tests and type training in the Virginia Capes operating area. In June 1969, she began preparations for overseas movement. On 17 June 1969, Belmont left her berth at the Norfolk Naval Station bound for her first and only tour of duty with the U.S. 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. She passed through the Strait of Gibraltar on 28 June 1969 and joined the 6th Fleet, two years after the Israeli attack on her sister ship, the USS Liberty (AGTR-5). Over the next four months, Belmont ranged the length and breadth of the "middle sea" conducting a series of special operations and making stops at ports all along the Mediterranean littoral. However, this technical research (spy) ship spent the majority of her time in the eastern portion of the sea near Kythira, Greece, and the island of Crete. Belmont concluded this last deployment of her career at Rota, Spain on 21 October 1969, and shaped a course back to the United States that same day.

Declared "of limited value," Belmont is scrapped[edit]

Belmont arrived back in Norfolk on 3 November 1969. Three weeks later, the ship received the close scrutiny of a board of inspection and survey. As a result, she was found to be of limited naval value. Accordingly, Belmont was decommissioned at Norfolk on 16 January 1970, and her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register that same day. On 24 June 1970, over 26 years after her construction during World War II, she was sold to the Boston Metals Co. in Baltimore, Maryland, for scrapping.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Babcock & Wilcox (April 1944). "Victory Ships". Marine Engineering and Shipping Review. 
  2. ^ The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia, Victory class
  3. ^ The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia, Allied order of battle, 18 October 1944
  4. ^ Rep of Ops in the Philippine Is Area 10/24-28/44
  5. ^ US Central Philippine Attack Force, 20 October 1944
  6. ^ Chapter XX, The Philippines Campaign, Forces and Vessels--Logistic Support of the Seventh Fleet--Battle of Leyte Gulf
  8. ^, SS Iran Victory - Aug.30,1944 to May 25,1945
  9. ^ Glenn E. Curtis, Eric Hooglund; Government Printing Office (2008). Iran: A Country Study. p. 30. ISBN 978-0844411873. 
  10. ^ David S. Sorenson (2013). An Introduction to the Modern Middle East: History, Religion, Political Economy, Politics. p. 206. ISBN 978-0813349220. 
  11. ^ Iran: Foreign Policy & Government Guide. 2009. p. 53. ISBN 978-0739793541. 
  12. ^ T.H. Vail Motter; United States Army Center of Military History (1952). United States Army in World War II the Middle East Theater the Persian Corridor and Aid to Russia. 
  13. ^ Louise Fawcett, "Revisiting the Iranian Crisis of 1946: How Much More Do We Know?." Iranian Studies 47#3 (2014): 379-399.
  14. ^ Gary R. Hess, "the Iranian Crisis of 1945-46 and the Cold War." Political Science Quarterly 89#1 (1974): 117-146. online
  15. ^ Korean War Educator, Merchant Marine, Accounts of the Korean War
  16. ^, USS Belmont AGTR-4 .. 1964-1968

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

External links[edit]