An SA-330 Puma helicopter lifts a load of stores from the Military Sealift Command combat stores ship USNS San Jose (T-AFS 7) during a vertical replenishment with an amphibious dock landing ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Wilson/Released)
Military Sealift Command combat stores ship USNS San Jose marked the close of 39 years of service to the Navy fleet in a Dec. 18 shipboard ceremony in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
The event paid tribute to the ship and the hundreds of sailors and civil service mariners who have served as its crew over the past three decades, ensuring that San Jose played its part in keeping the U.S. Navy fleet at sea, on station and combat ready by delivering vital supplies to deployed warships worldwide.
San Jose will be deactivated from the Navy in January 2010 and is the last of eight combat stores ships to deactivate from MSC's Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force. These ships delivered food, spare parts, mail, fuel and other supplies to U.S. Navy ships at sea. San Jose and five other combat stores ships were originally crewed by sailors until they were transferred to MSC in the 1990s and shifted to civil service mariner crewing. The others came directly to MSC from the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary in the early 1980s.
San Jose transferred to MSC in October 1993. During its service with MSC, San Jose conducted countless underway replenishments with Navy combatant ships operating in support of missions, most recently in providing logistics support to Navy ships in the Arabian Gulf supporting both Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
San Jose has also supported U.S. disaster response and humanitarian assistance missions. In 2005, San Jose provided logistics support to hospital ship USNS Mercy as it played a key role in international efforts to provide assistance to victims of the December 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia.
The combat stores ships are being replaced by the newly built Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo/ammunition ships. To date, eight of an expected class of 14 dry cargo/ammunition ships have been delivered to the Navy.
The nearly 600-ft long San Jose completed its final mission Dec. 3, when it returned to port in Pearl Harbor with a crew of 120 civil service mariners and a 40-member military detachment. The Dec. 18 ceremony marks the end of the ship's operations. Official deactivation will take place in mid- to late January 2010.