USS Watchman (AGR-16)
USS Watchman (AGR-16) was a Guardian-class radar picket ship, converted from a Liberty Ship, acquired by the US Navy in 1958. She was reconfigured as a radar picket ship and assigned to radar picket duty in the North Pacific Ocean as part of the Distant Early Warning Line.
USS Watchman (AGR-16) entering San Francisco Bay
|Name:||Vernon S. Hood|
|Namesake:||Vernon S. Hood|
|Owner:||War Shipping Administration (WSA)|
|Operator:||Overlakes Freight Co.|
|Ordered:||as type (EC2-S-C5) hull, MC hull 2343|
|Builder:||J.A. Jones Construction, Panama City, Florida|
|Laid down:||17 January 1945|
|Launched:||20 February 1945|
|Sponsored by:||Mrs. Inez Bulifant|
|Completed:||7 March 1945|
|Fate:||Placed in the, National Defense Reserve Fleet, James River Reserve Fleet, Lee Hall, Virginia, 1947|
|Status:||Acquired by US Navy, 1958|
|Namesake:||One who watches|
|Commissioned:||5 January 1959|
|Decommissioned:||7 July 1965|
|Reclassified:||Guardian-class radar picket ship|
|Refit:||Charleston Naval Shipyard, Charleston, South Carolina|
|Stricken:||1 September 1965|
|Fate:||Placed in the, National Defense Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay, California, 1 September 1965|
|Status:||Sold for scrapping, 3 October 1974|
|Class and type:||
|Beam:||57 feet (17 m)|
|Draft:||27 ft 9.25 in (8.4646 m)|
|Speed:||11.5 knots (21.3 km/h; 13.2 mph)|
|Capacity:||490,000 cubic feet (13,875 m3) (bale)|
|General characteristics (US Navy refit)|
|Class and type:||Guardian-class radar picket ship|
|Armament:||2 × 3 inches (76 mm)/50 caliber guns|
Watchman (YAGR-16) was laid down on 17 January 1945, under a Maritime Commission (MARCOM) contract, MC hull 2343, as the Liberty Ship Vernon S. Hood, by J.A. Jones Construction, Panama City, Florida. She was launched 20 February 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Inez Bulifant; and delivered 7 March 1945, to MARCOM.
Following a shakedown cruise in the Gulf of Mexico, the freighter was turned over to the Overlakes Freight Corporation, to be operated by that firm under a contract with the MARCOM. During her brief period of active operations with MARCOM, 1945 to 1947, she also served under contract with the Moore-McCormack Lines. Later that year, she was placed out of service and was berthed with the James River Reserve Fleet, Lee Hall, Virginia.
US Navy service
The ship remained there until mid-1958 when she was taken over by the US Navy and converted to a radar picket ship at the Charleston Navy Yard, Charleston, South Carolina. During conversion, she was renamed Watchman and received the designation YAGR-16. However, that designation was changed to AGR-16 before she completed her conversion late in the year. On 5 January 1958, Watchman was placed in commission at Charleston, Lieutenant Commander Irvin Boaz in command.
Watchman conducted shakedown training in the Guantanamo Bay operating area during February. Following post-shakedown availability at Charleston, from 5 to 18 March, she completed repairs and got underway for the US West Coast. After transiting the Panama Canal, and visiting Acapulco, Mexico, she arrived in her new home port, San Francisco, California, on 11 April.
Assigned to the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), she served as one of several radar picket ships operating as seaborne extensions of the command's contiguous radar coverage system. She operated from her base at San Francisco, during her entire naval career, spending an average of 200 days per year actually at sea engaged in picket patrols.
Her name was struck from the Navy List 1 September 1965, and she was returned to the Maritime Administration (MARAD) for lay up with the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay, California. She remained there until 3 October 1974, when she was sold to American Ship Dismantlers for scrapping.
Honors and awards
Watchman's crew was eligible for the following medals:
- "Watchman". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History and Heritage Command. 26 October 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2019. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- "Jones Construction, Panama City FL". www.ShipbuildingHistory.com. 13 October 2010. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
- Davies, James (May 2004). "Specifications (As-Built)" (PDF). p. 23. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
- "SS Vernon S. Hood". Retrieved 6 December 2019.
- "USS Watchman (AGR-16)". Navsource.org. 9 October 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
- Photo gallery of USS Watchman at NavSource Naval History