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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

Contributed by Mike Smolinski

USNS Mercury (T-AGM-21)
USNS Flagstaff (T-AGM-21) (1964 - 1965)
USNS Mission San Juan (T-AO-126) (1947 - 1958)

USNS Mercury (T-AGM-21) International Radio Call Sign:
November - Juliet - Delta - Mike

USNS Mission San Juan (T-AO-126) International Radio Call Sign:
November - Hotel - Papa - Zulu

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

National Defense Service Medal

Mission Buenaventura Class Fleet Oiler / Vanguard Class Missile Range Instrumentation Ship:
  • Laid down, 30 July 1943, as a Maritime Commission type (T2-SE-A2) tanker hull, under Maritime Commission contract, (MC 1280) at Marinship Corp., Sausalito, CA.
  • Launched, 14 October 1943
  • Delivered to the Maritime Commission, 31 January 1944 upon completion, for charter to Deconhill Shipping Co.
  • Transferred to the Maritime Commission, 9 April 1946, for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Mobile, AL.
  • Acquired by the US Navy, 21 November 1947
  • Designated Mission San Juan (AO-126), and assigned to the Naval Transportation Service (NTS)
  • Transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) and placed in service as USNS Mission San Juan (T-AO-126)
  • Placed out of service, struck from the Naval Register, and transferred to the Maritime Administration for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Beaumont, TX. 12 February 1958
  • Reacquired by the Navy, 28 October 1964, for conversion at General Dynamics Shipyard, Quincy, MA., to a Missile Range Instrumentation Ship
  • Renamed USNS Flagstaff (T-AGM-21), 8 April 1965
  • Renamed USNS Mercury (T-AGM-21), 1 September 1965
  • Accepted by (MSTS) for service, 16 September 1965
  • Placed out of service and laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay, 29 October 1969
  • Struck from the Naval Register (date unknown)
  • Sold, 23 June 1970, to Matson Navigation Co. for conversion to a bulk-carrier at Willamette Iron & Steel,,Portland, OR., renamed SS Kopaa
  • Sold in February 1981 to California & Hawaii Sugar Co.
  • Final Disposition, sold for scrapping at Taiwan in October 1984
    (AO) 5,532 t.(lt) 23,350 t.(fl)
    (AGM) 13,882 t.(lt) 24,761 t.(fl)
    (AO) 523' 6"
    (AGM) 595'
    (AO) 68'
    (AGM) 75'
    Draft 30' (max)
    Speed 14 kts.
    (AO) 52 mariners, 17 Navy Armed Guard
    (AGM) 49 mariners, 18 scientific staff
    (AO) one single 5"/38 dual purpose gun mount, four single 3"/50 dual purpose gun mounts, four twin 40mm AA gun mounts, 4 twin 20mm AA gun mounts
    (AGM) none
    Propulsion Turbo-electric, two boilers, eight Westinghouse turbo-generators, single screw, 10,000hp
    Click On Image
    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Source
    War Shipping Administration - SS Mission San Juan
    Mission San Juan
    Mission San Juan Capistrano - is a Spanish mission in San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, CA. Founded in 1776 in colonial Las Californias by Spanish Catholic missionaries of the Franciscan Order, it was named for Saint John of Capistrano. The Spanish Colonial Baroque style church was located in the Alta California province of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The Mission was secularized by the Mexican government in 1833, and returned to the Roman Catholic Church by the American government in 1865. The mission was damaged over the years by a number of natural disasters, but restoration and renovation efforts date from around 1910. (Wikipedia)
    Photo of the Mission San Juan Capistrano - North Corridor (cropped),28 March 2013. ©Bernard Gagon
    Tommy Trampp
    Mission San Juan 121k Mission San Juan fitting out while moored outboard of an unidentified tanker at Dock D-1, Marinship Corp., Sausalito, CA. 15 days after launching.
    US Maritime Commission photo by Marinship courtesy Auke Visser's Famous T - Tankers Pages.
    Robert Hurst
    Mission San Juan 116k Mission San Juan fitting out while moored at Dock D-1, Marinship Corp., Sausalito, CA. 43 days after launching.
    US Maritime Commission photo by Marinship courtesy Auke Visser's Famous T - Tankers Pages.
    Robert Hurst
    Mission San Juan 87k Mission San Juan under way probably in San Francisco Bay during builders trials, circa January 1943.
    US Maritime Commission photo by Marinship courtesy Auke Visser's Famous T - Tankers Pages.
    Robert Hurst
    USNS Mercury (T-AGM-21)
    Mercury 63k Mercury (T-AGM-21) while berthing at Sydney Harbour, Australia, in 1969. Mercury was part of the command and control network for the Apollo 9 and 10 missions while in Sydney. Photo from the collection of CAPT. William Strain, USNR-R, Chief Engineer USNS Mercury late 1960s. Submitted by his son-in-law CAPT Joe A. Baker USN (Ret).
    Mercury 70k Mercury (T-AGM-21) moored pierside at Port Canaveral, circa 1967/68.
    US Navy photo.
    Robert Hurst
    Mercury 105k Mercury (T-AGM-21) under way, date and location unknown.
    NASA photo.
    Robert Hurst
    Mercury 260k Mercury (T-AGM-21) moored, date and location unknown. Terje Fjeldheim
    Mercury 234k
    694k USNS Mercury (T-AGM-20) under way at Pearl Harbor, circa 1966-68
    US Navy photo.
    Photo by Jerry N. Hogue
    Merchant Service Matson Navigation Co.
    Mercury 83k Ex-Mercury (T-AGM-21) underway as the Matson Navigation Co.'s SS Kopaa, date and location unknown. ©Ackroyd. Gerhard Mueller-Debus
    Mercury 439k SS Kopaa dry docked at Hunters Point, San Francisco, CA., September 1978. Photo by Gerhard Mueller-Debus

    USNS Mission San Juan (T-AO-126) / USNS Mercury (T-AGM-21)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Crew Contact And Reunion Information
    U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation - Navy Log

    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    Postal Covers related to the ship
    Mission San Juan - MARAD Vessel History Database
    Mercury - MARAD Vessel History Database
    Back To The Main Photo Index Back To The Service Force Ship Type Index Back To The Fleet Oiler (AO) Photo Index Back To The Range Instrumentation Ship (AGM) Photo Index
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    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
    All pages copyright NavSource Naval History
    Last Updated 30 July 2021