(AO‑122: dp. 21,880; l. 524'; b. 68'; dr. 30'; s. 16.5 k.; cpl. 52; a. none; cl. Mission Buenaventura; T. T2‑SE‑A2)
A merchant name retained. A Franciscan mission in California founded in 1797.
Mission San Fernando was laid down an 26 August 1943 under a Maritime Commission contract by Marine Ship Corp., Sausalito, Calif.; launched 25 November 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Ruth B. Krohn; and delivered 29 February 1944.
Chartered to Pacific Tankers Inc., for operations, she served the remainder of the war carrying fuel to our forces in the western Pacific. She remained in service until 10 May 1946 when she was returned to the Maritime Commission and laid up in the Reserve Fleet at Olympia, Wash.
Acquired by the Navy on 21 October 1947, she was chartered to the Union Oil Co., for operations, and placed in service, under the operational control of the Naval Transportation Service as Mission San Fernando (AO‑122). Transferred to the operational control of the newly created Military Sea Transportation Service on 1 October 1949, she was redesignated USNS Mission San Fernando (T‑AO‑122). She served in MSTS until 24 May 1955 when she was returned to the Maritime Administration and laid up in the Maritime Reserve Fleet at Olympia, Wash. She was struck from the U.S. Naval Register on 22 June 1955.
Reacquired by the Navy on 21 June 1956, she was placed in service with MSTS and operated, under charter, by Marine Transportation Lines. She served with MSTS until she was returned to the Maritime Administration on 4 September 1957 and laid up in the Maritime Reserve Fleet at James River, Va.
Reacquired by the Navy on 28 September 1964, she was taken in hand by the General Dynamics Corp., for extensive modernization and rebuilding at their Quincy, Mass., yard. While under conversion to a missile‑ranch instrumentation ships, she was renamed and reclassified as Muscle Shoals (AGM‑19). Renamed Vanguard on 1 September 1965, she was placed in service with MSTS on 28 February 1966 as USNS Vanguard (T‑AGM‑19). Designed to be a seagoing missile tracking station, she has been participating in the Apollo test series and into 1969 has continued in these duties.