Mars was one of the names assigned to five galleys to be built at Charleston, S.C., in 1798 when the impending trouble with France redirected attention to the need for a strong Navy. These galleys were to operate in coastal defense with privateer crews commanded by naval officers. The records indicated that Mars renamed Charleston (q.v.) while under construction as one the three galleys actually completed, the other two being Beaufort and Protector.
(Collier AC-6; displacement 11,250 (normal); 1enght 403', beam 53'; draft 24'8'' (mean); speed 12.65 knots; complement 82; armament 4.50 caliber machine gun)
The first Mars (AC-6) was laid down by the Maryland Steel Co., Sparrows Point, Md., 5 October 1908; launched 10 April 1909; sponsored by Miss Juliana Keyser; and commissioned at Norforlk 26 August 1909, Master A.B. Randall, Naval auxiliary Service, in command.
Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, Mars departed Nortfolk 6 January 1910 for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for fueling operations in the Caribbean. Returning Norfolk 14 March, the collier sailed 1 April for the South Atlantic Squadron. Arriving Maldonada Bay, Uruguay, the 25th, she remained there, coaling ships, until heading home 14 May, and arriving Norfolk 4 June.
After operations out of Norfolk, the collier sailed 14 December with stores for the European station. On 7 January 1911 Mars cleared Cherbourg, France, to return to Norfolk the 26th. She served out of Norfolk the next year and a half, making five voyages to Guantanamo, before decommissioning 3 July 1912 to go into drydock at Portmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H. Mars recommissioned 11 December and resumed her east coast operations off Portsmouth until again decommissioned 15 July 1913.
On 8 May 1914 Mars recommissioned and departed 6 days later for Vera Cruz to support fleet action off Mexico following the arrest of a U.S. Navy shore party in April. Returning to Newport News, Va., 12 September, she sailed for the Marianas, arriving Apra Harbor, Guam, 20 January 1915. On 7 March Mars steamed for home, arriving Norfolk 22 May. She departed with supplies 24 July for the first of three voyages from the east coast to Balbao, Canal Zone, ending at Baltimore, Md., 9 April 1916.
Mars sailed for the west coast 26 April, arriving San Diego 7 June. She operated along the coasts of western Mexico and Central America until 6 July 1917 when she headed for the east coast, reaching Norfolk the 31st.
For the next 21 months the ship served off the Atlantic coast transporting coal, cargo, and passengers. Assigned to newly established NOTS 9 January 1918, Mars made four cruises to the Mediterranean between 1 April 1919 and 25 November 1921 when she retired to Hampton Roads, Va. The collier was classified AC-9 on 17 July 1920. Mars decommissioned 27 December 1921, was struck from the navy list 26 April 1923, sold 22 June 1923 to Mr. John E. Walsh, Boston, Mass. On 8 November 1924 she ran aground off Daiquire, Cuba, with the loss one life and was abandoned
(Repair Ship AR-16: displacement 16,900 (limiting); length 492', beam 69'6''; draft 27'6''; (limiting); speed 16.5 knots; complement 921; armament 2'5'', 8 40 millimeter; class Amphion)
Mars (AR-16), was laid down by Tampa shipbuilding Co., Tampa, Fla., 16 May 1945; but construction of the repair ship was canceled 12 August 1945 before launching.
(Combat Store Ship AFS-1: displacement 16,100 (full load); 1ength 581'; beam 79; draft 28'; speed 20 knots; complement 486; armament 4'3''; class Mars)
The third Mars (AFS-1) was laid down by the National Steel & Shipbuilding Co., San Diego, Calf., 5 May 1962; launched 15 June 1963: sponsored by Mrs. Clyde Doyle, widow of representative Doyle of California; and commissioned at Long Beach Naval Shipyard 21 December 1963, Capt. Russel C. Medley in command.
Mars was the first of a new class that may eventually replace three types of supply ships: the AF, AKS, and AVS. Two innovations were Boeing UH-46 helicopters and an automatic highline-shuttle transfer system to make a rapid transfer of supplies possible. To speed replenishment processing, Mars became the first ship in the Pacific Fleet to be equipped with a 1004 Univac computer system.
Assigned to Service Squadron 1, Mars left San Diego 16 March 1964 for Acapulco, Mexico, for shakedown, returning to San Diego Easter Sunday. On 1 September she departed for the western Pacific, arriving Yokosuka, Japan, the 23rd. With Yokosuka as home port, the combat storeship operated from the Philippines to the South China Sea through the rest of the year.
Mars continued through the next 3 years to provide logistic support to the far-ranging 7th Fleet at sea, especially off Vietnam, while revisiting the South Pacific ports of Hong Kong; Sasebo, Japan; and Subic Bay, Philippines. Typical of the combat storeship's supply activities was a night vertical replenishment of Canberra (CAG-2) while the heavy cruiser was fighting off Vietnam, her 8-inch guns on the engaged side blasting away in support of troops ashore. Mars has taken an especially active part in similar operations helping block Chinese communist-inspired Vietcong aggression in South Vietnam. She set several replenishment records in 1967 and 1968, and into 1969 continues to play an important role in the fleet operations in the Southeast Asia area.
26 August 2002