Additional Notes

The ship operated out of Honolulu harbor from pier 39. This ship's crew consisted of about 40 civil service US Army Military Sea transportation Service officers and merchant seamen. The tracking crew was made up of 16 Bendix Radio Range Systems engineers and technicians. They operated the telemetry, communications and radar systems on board. The USAF Satellite Recovery Group at Hickam AFB provided two CH-3B helicopters, pilots and ground (deck?) crew to complete the shipboard complement.

We usually were at sea about two weeks out of every four. The rest of the time was spent in port at the Army terminal just across Kam highway from the Dole pineapple cannery near downtown Honolulu. Quite a aroma. Once the Viet Nam war got running hot and heavy the Army terminal was occasionally clogged with troop ships and we had to berth at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor until our berth at pier 39 opened up.

The hanger just forward of the flight deck housed the two CH-3B helos during sea operations. The recovery aircraft were tracked by a SPS-8A height finding radar mounted on a king post just forward of the hanger. The telemetry tracking antennas on the king posts forward of the ships house were used to receive data from the descending payloads from the polar orbiting satellites. Nearly all the time The AF C-130 would snag the capsule out of the air before they hit the water. Now and then, usually during very heavy weather, one would land in the drink. Then we would vector the helos out to the splash down point so they could pick them up and return them to Hickam.


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