Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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  • Ship History
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Mission Santa Barbara
(AO‑131: 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 colonial California founded in 1786.


Mission Santa Barbara was laid down 8 April 1944 under a Maritime Commission contract by Marine Ship Corp., Sausalito, Calif.; launched 8 June 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Carl H. Nilson; and delivered 8 July 1944.

Chartered to Pacific Tankers Inc., for operations, she spent the remainder of the war carrying fuel to our bases in the Pacific. She remained in this capacity until 8 May 1946 when she was returned to the Maritime Commission and laid up in the Maritime Reserve Fleet at Olympia, Wash.

Acquired by the Navy on 20 October 1947, she was chartered to Union Oil Co., for operations, and placed under the operational control of the Naval Transportation Service as Mission Santa Barbara (AO‑131). Transferred to the new Military Sea Transportation Service 1 October 1949, she was redesignated USNS Mission Santa Barbara (T‑AO‑131). She remained in service with MSTS until 12 April 1954, when she was laid up, in reserve, at the San Diego group of the Pacific Reserve Fleet. She remained in reserve until 8 October 1956, when she was once again placed in service with MSTS and chartered to the Joshua Henry Corp. for operations. She remained with MSTS until 8 November 1957, when she was transferred to the Maritime Administration, struck from the U.S. Naval Vessel Register and laid up in the Maritime Reserve Fleet at Beaumont. Tex.

However, her life was not yet over for on 26 March 1966, she was sold to the Hudson Waterways Corp. for conversion into a combination containership and train ferry. She was renamed Seatrain Carolina 7 April 1966. Upon completion of conversion, she carried cargo from the east coast of the United States to the Caribbean and occasionally to Vietnam. into 1969, she is still carrying out these duties.