(AFS‑1: dp. 16,100 (f); l. 581'; b. 79'; dr. 28'; s. 20 k.; cpl. 486; a. 4 3"; cl. Mars)
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 third Mars (AFS‑1) was laid down by the National Steel & Shipbuilding Co., San Diego, Calif., 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 Faster Sunday. On 1 September she departed for the western Pacific, arriving Yokosuka, Japan, the 23d. 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.