(AC‑6; dp. 11,250 (n.); l. 403'; b. 53'; dr. 24'8" (mean); s. 12.65 k.; cpl. 82; a. 4 .50 cal. mg.)
In the Roman religion, the god of war. Mars was the father of Romulus, the founder of Rome; next to Jupiter, he enjoyed the highest position in the hierarchy of the gods. March, the third month of the Julian Calendar introduced in 46 B.C., and Mars, the fourth planet in our solar system, conspicuous for the redness of its light; were named for him. The first Mars (AC‑6) was named for the mythological god the second Afars (AFS‑1) for the borough in Butler County in western Pennsylvania named for the planet.
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 indicate that Mars was renamed Charleston, (q.v.) while under construction as one of the three galleys actually completed, the other two being Beaufort and Protector.
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 Norfolk 26 August 1900, Master A. B. Randall, Naval Auxiliary Service, in command.
Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, Mars departed Norfolk 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 for the next year and a half, making five voyages to Guantanamo, before decommissioning 3 July 1912 to go into drydock at Portsmouth 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 Balboa, 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 the 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‑6 on 17 July 1920. Mars decommissioned 27 December 1921, was struck from the Navy list 26 April 1923, and sold 22 June 1923 to Mr. John E. Walsh, Boston, Mass. On 8 November 1924 she ran aground off Daiquire, Cuba, with the loss of one life and was abandoned.