Haze Gray Photo Feature
Ships of Mare Island
At times since its closure, Mare Island Naval Shipyard has housed a
variety of decomissioned US Navy vessels awaiting their final
disposition. These have included ships of every description, from
aircraft carriers down to frigates and berthing ships. In many cases,
Mare Island has been these ships' final port, as many of the vessels have
been sunk as targets.
Kirk Rattenne has provided photos of Mare Island's recent visitors, and
some other naval vessels seen passing by Mare Island. In the future we
will be creating a larger feature about the shipyard itself, its history,
and its current state.
Carriers and Amphibs
The carrier Oriskany (CV 34) was the largest ship at Mare Island
in recent years.
The carrier, decomissioned in 1976 and stricken from the Naval Vessels
Register in 1989, was sold for scrap in 1993 and again in 1995. The
second scrapper defaulted and the ship was returned to the Navy in 1997
and moved to Mare Island for storage. She departed Mare Island on May
1999, en route to the MARAD reserve fleet at Beaumont, Texas. Today she
is the last of the Essex class carriers owned by the Navy. These
photos were taken on 17 September 1998.
Another view of Oriskany.
Her mast has been cut down and toppled on deck beside the island, and her
starboard elevator is folded up (abaft the island).
Close up view of the flight deck galleries and hangar deck, port side,
The elevator at the forward end of the angled flight deck at the right
edge of the photo.
A closer view of the island and toppled mast.
A view of Oriskany's stern.
The stricken amphibious assault ship Tripoli (LPH 10) at
Mare Island on 17 September 1999.
Tripoli was decommissioned and stricken in 1995 and leased to the
US Army in 1997, reportedly for use in missile tests. She has not been
employed in this role, and has remained at Mare Island ever since.
Currently she is the only large ship at Mare.
A closer view of Tripoli.
Like Oriskany, her mast has been cut down and her aircraft
elevator is folded up.
A closeup of the island and folded port side elevator.
Tripoli, port side midships/aft view.
Thomaston (LSD 28) was another scrap-default ship moored at Mare
Decommissioned in 1984 and stricken in 1992, she was sold in 1995 to the
same scrapper as Oriskany. When the scrapper defaulted she was
moved to Mare Island, and shortly after this 3 September 1998 photo she
went to the Suisun Bay reserve fleet, where she remains.
Oklahoma City (CG 5) was the last of the converted guided missile
cruisers owned by the Navy.
Originally commissioned in 1944 as CL 92, a gun cruiser, she was
converted to a gun/missile/flagship configuration and redesignated CLG 5
in 1957-1960. After much service off Vietnam, she became the last CLG to
decommission, on 15 December 1979. After a number of years in various
reserve and target fleets, she was moored at Mare Island briefly before
being towed to the Pacific and sunk as a target, 25 March 1999. These
photos were taken 29 October 1998.
A closeup of Oklahoma City's bow.
The triple 6 inch/47 caliber turret is the sole survivor of four she
originally carried. In her gun/missile configuration, a dual 5"/38cal
mount was installed just ahead of the bridge; it was removed after she
Oklahoma City's superstructure and masts.
The large, bulky superstructure marks her as one of the four
flagship-equipped CLGs. Many of the missile and gun directors formerly
mounted atop the superstructure have been stripped away over the years
since her decommissioning.
A closeup of Oklahoma City's aft superstructure.
The massive directors for her Talos missile battery are still installed.
The lower level of the superstructure is the missile magazine and finning
A more modern cruiser, Sterett (CG 31), was at Mare Island briefly
in early 2000.
Steret was decommissioned and stricken in 1994, just two years after
she completed a major modernization. Since then she has been in MARAD's
Suisun Bay reserve fleet, and is currently on "donation hold" for
possible preservation. In all of these 3 March 2000 photos, she is
moored outboard General Hugh J. Gaffey (IX 507) (see below).
Sterett's bow and forward superstructure.
The Mk10 Terrier/Standard-ER launcher remains in place.
Sterett's superstructure and stacks.
Her masts have been entirely stripped away, so any restoration effort will
face a major challenge.
A view of Sterett's fantail and helo deck.
The 5"/54cal gun previously installed aft has been removed.
Destroyers and Frigates
A group of partially-scrapped DDGs and FFGs at Mare Island, 12 May 1999.
These ships are the former Henry B. Wilson (DDG 7), Towers
(DDG 9), Ramsey (FFG 2), and Schofield (FFG 3). Along with
Lynde McCormick (DDG 8), these ships were sold for conversion to
floating power plants. When the conversion fell through, they were
returned to the Navy and moved to Mare Island to await disposal.
One of the partially converted FFGs at Mare Island, 19 May 1999.
It's not known which of the FFGs this is. Ramsey (FFG 2) was
towed away and sunk as a target on 15 June 2000; Schofield met the
same fate on 2 November 1999.
Stripped hulks Towers (DDG 9) and Lynde McCormick (DDG 8)
at Mare Island on 19 May 1999.
Towers has since been moved to the MARAD Suisun Bay reserve fleet
to await disposal.
Lynde McCormick (DDG 8) moored outboard of John Paul Jones
(DDG 32), January 2001.
Lynde McCormick was painted green during her ill-fated conversion.
John Paul Jones was one of four Forrest Sherman (DD 931)
class ships converted to DDGs. Although decommissioned in 1982, she
survived until sunk as a target 31 January 2001.
Tugs moving the hulk of Lynde McCormick (DDG 8) on 20 February
2001, as the ship is towed away for the final time.
The fleet tug Sioux (T-ATF 171) takes Lynde McCormick in
tow, 20 Feb 2001.
The venerable DDG hulk was sunk as a target four days later, 24 Feb 2001.
Another view of Lynde McCormick leaving Mare Island for the last
A good view showing the completely stripped condition of the former DDG.
Sioux and Lynde McCormick head out to sea for the last
A much more intact DDG, the former John King (DDG 3), at Mare
Island in 1998.
This destroyer was decommissioned in 1990, stricken in 1993, and sold for
scrapping in 1999.
A closeup of John King's bow and forward superstructure.
Midships view, John King.
Her masts and antennas are quite intact.
John King's stern and aft superstructure.
Most of her armament was midships and aft - an ASROC launcher,
a 5"/54cal gun, and a Mk11 Tartar/SM-1MR missile launcher.
Hulk of the WWII-era fleet oiler Ashtabula (AO 51) at Mare Island, 30
Ashtabula decommissioned in 1982 and was sold for scrapping in 1995.
The oiler was only 20% scrapped when the shipbreaker went into default, and
she was returned to the Navy 27 September 1999.
A closer view of Ashtabula's partially-scrapped bow.
The extreme bow is gone, along with part of the main deck forward, most
of the forward superstructure, and all masts and kingposts.
Another view of Ashtabula's bow.
Ashtabula's aft superstructure, which remained partially intact.
Ashtabula was expended in a target exercise on 14 October 2000.
The firing exercise took place off San Diego, and included ships from the
US Navy (O'Kane (DDG 77), Curts (FFG 38), and
Thach (FFG 43)), Royal Navy (Sutherland (F81),
Cornwall (F99) and Newcastle (D87)), and French navy
(Aconit (F713)). The old oiler is seen here after two hits from
Harpoon missiles, each
of which has opened a large hole in her starboard side.
This view shows a closeup of the oiler's stern, where a Sea Skua
missile scored a hit. The missile was equipped with a penetration
warhead, so it exploded inside the ship, causing major internal destruction but leaving
relatively little external evidence. In all, the oiler was subjected to
eight Harpoon missiles, two Standard (SM-2) missiles, three Sea Skua
missiles, four bombs from S-3 Vikings, and over 100 rounds of gunfire
from 3", 100mm, and 5" guns.
Ashtabula was scuttled on October 15th.
Despite the terrific pounding she suffered from a force of seven US,
British and French ships, Ashtabula remained
afloat the next day. She was finally sent to the bottom by demolition
Ashtabula takes her final plunge after the
SINKEX off San Diego.
The frigate in the background is Thach (FFG 43).
The barracks hulk, former troopship, General Hugh J. Gaffey
(IX 507) at Mare Island, 6 October 1999.
Commissioned in 1944 as USS Admiral W.L. Capps (AP 121), she was
decommissioned and stricken in 1946. Transferred to the Army, she was
renamed General Hugh J. Gaffey, and retained that name when
returned to the Navy in 1950. After nearly two decades shuttling troops
and their families across the Pacific, she was again stricken in 1969.
In 1978 she once again returned to the Naval Vessels Register, as a
barracks hulk, designated IX 507. This service lasted until 1993, when
she was stricken for the final time. After being sold, partially
scrapped, and returned to the Navy, she was finally expended as a target
on 16 June 2000.
A closeup of Gaffey's bow, now devoid of kingposts and masts.
A view of the superstructure, with all funnels, davits, masts, etc.
Other Ships & Craft
A group of US Army LCU's moored at Mare Island, 20 May 1999.
They are Malvern Hill (LCU 2025), Missionary Ridge (LCU 2028),
Monterey (LCU 2030) and Paulus Hook (LCU 2033).
Launch of the ballistic missile submarine Mariano G. Vallejo (SSBN
658) at Mare Island, 23 October 1965.
The sail from Mariano G. Vallehjo at Mare Island in 1998.
The submarine was decommissioned and stricken in 1995 and scrapped, but
the sail was saved and will become part of a memorial at the shipyard.
Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet
A general view of the Suisun Bay reserve fleet in 1998.
Many of ships passing through Mare Island are en route to or from the nearby
Suisun Bay fleet.
A closer view of the Suisun Bay fleet.
This view shows a variety of ships, including numerous
oilers, a tug, an icebreaker, two LSDs, two Knox (FF 1052) class
frigates, a destroyer, a destroyer tender, and the cruiser Oklahoma
A different view of the fleet in 2000.
This is a "nest" composed mostly of fleet oilers.
A general view of the Mare Island yard in 1998.
Tripoli is at right.
A view of the yard's abandoned shipbuilding ways and one of the drydocks.
The cranes are parked on either side of the drydock gate.
View looking up one of the shipbuilding ways.
Mare Island shops and a crane.
One of the large cranes at the shipyard.
Passers-By and Visitors
The fleet tug Sioux (T-ATF 171) often tows ships leaving Mare
She is seen on 20 February 2001 towing away the hulk of Lynde McCormick (DDG 8).
Another view of Sioux on 20 February 2001.
Recently spotted passing through the area was the floating drydock
San Onofre (ARD 30), seen on 20 March 2001.
The WWII-era drydock was stricken in 1997 and has been sold to Mexico.
She is seen under tow from Suisun Bay to the open sea.
Another view of San Onofre.
Docks of this type had ship-like bows to facilitate towing and a minimal
superstructure and "bridge". Many of these docks have been employed to
San Onofre heads off into the haze towards the sea.
Another recent passer-by was the battleship Iowa (BB 61), on 21
After a long ocean tow from Newport, Rhode Island, the
mothballed battleship arrived in the San Francisco Bay area. She will
be laid up in the Suisun Bay reserve fleet for a few years, and then will
likely become a museum in the San Francisco area.
A broadside view of IOWA arriving on 21 April.
Note that her mast has been cut down significantly, no doubt to reduce
her height for passage under bridges.
Passing under the bridge, Iowa heads towards the Suisun Bay
The removed section of her mast can be seen lying on deck near the stern.
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This section of the HG&UW site created and maintained by
Copyright © 2003, Andrew Toppan. All Rights Reserved.
Photos Copyright © 1998-2003, Kirk Rattenne. All Rights Reserved.
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