The fifth U.S. Navy ship named for the region surrounding the North Pole.
(T-AOE-8: displacement 50,794; length 754'; beam 107'; draft 40'; speed 30 knots; complement 708; armament 1 NATO Sea Sparrow, 2 Phalanx Close-in Weapons Systems (CIWS), 2 25 millimeter Bushmaster guns, and 4 .50-cal. machine guns; aircraft 2 helicopters; class Supply)
The fifth Arctic (T-AOE-8) was laid down on 2 December 1991 at San Diego, Calif., by National Steel & Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 30 October 1993, sponsored by Mrs. Mary Johnston, wife of Senator J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana; and was commissioned on 16 September 1995 at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Capt. John O’Neill in command.
The ship’s initial coat of arms:
Dark blue and gold are the colors traditionally associated with the Navy. Gold is emblematic of honor and blue reflects the sea and Arctic’s theater of operation; white is for integrity. The polestar symbolizes navigation, leadership and the far reaching scope and mission of the past and present ships named Arctic. The polar bear alludes to the Arctic; the word Arctic is derived from the Greek for bear, Arktos.
The Bowen knot honors the previous four United States Navy ships that carried the name Arctic. The palm fronds represent victory and denote the service of the fourth Arctic (AF-7) in the Pacific during World War II.
In September 2001, Arctic saved nine Iranians adrift in their fishing boat in the Arabian Gulf, and with destroyer Nicholson (DD-982) towed Iraqi oil smuggler Al Hassan hundreds of miles to a holding area. On 8 September the busy ship rescued distressed Iraqi merchantman Muhammad One. When al-Qaeda terrorists attacked the United States on 9/11, Arctic refueled Enterprise and then steamed in company with the aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea. The Navy ordered Arctic to come about and make for the northern Arabian Sea, where she provisioned and refueled ships during the tense days leading up to the coalition’s retributive strikes — Operation Enduring Freedom I. On that fateful night of 7 October, Arctic topped-off Enterprise’s fuel, enabling the carrier to launch her strikes against the terrorists and the Taliban extremists who harbored them. The ship’s historian reported that she subsequently provided “essential logistical services” for four carrier battle groups during these first engagements of the global war on terrorism.
Arctic was decommissioned and placed in service with the Military Sealift Command (MSC) on 14 June 2002.
On 23 December 2007, Arctic helped rescue seven mariners adrift in a raft in the central Arabian Gulf. While replenishing aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), the fast combat support ship received a bridge-to-bridge radio call from British-flagged cargo vessel British Courage, requesting assistance rescuing the stranded people. The castaways had been transporting cargo from Dubai when heavy seas broke their dhow’s keel. The vessel took on too much water to remain afloat, and the sailors abandoned ship into a life raft and floated for two days. British Courage reported that they appeared to be barely three miles from Harry S. Truman and Arctic. The ships performed an emergency break away, and Arctic dispatched two Sikorsky MH-60S Knighthawks of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22 to the scene. A helicopter put one rescue swimmer in the water, who recovered the four Pakistanis and three Indians. The Knighthawk brought the mariners to the carrier for medical treatment, food, and water, and they were subsequently transferred back to the United Arab Emirates.
Detailed history under construction.
Mark L. Evans
24 November 2015