Naval History and Heritage Command

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Saturn III (AFS-10)


The Roman god of seed sowing and the harvest.


(AFS-10: displacement 16,680; length 523'; beam 72'; draft 26'; speed 18 knots; complement 193; armament 8 3-inch; aircraft flight deck (but no hangar) for 2 Boeing Vertol UH-46 Sea Knights; class Sirius)

The third Saturn (AFS-10) was laid down as British Ness-class fleet stores ship Stromness (A.344) on 1 October 1965 at Wallsend, United Kingdom, by Swan, Hunter, & Wigham Richardson, Ltd.; launched on 1 September 1966; placed in service with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary on 1 June 1967; and sold to the U.S. Military Sealift Command (MSC) on 1 January 1983.

Saturn (AFS-10) III 1983-2009-020209-N-1587C-079
A heavily laden Sea Knight of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 8 lifts off the flight deck of Saturn to resupply aircraft carrier John C. Stennis (CVN-74), while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in the North Arabian Sea, 9 February 2002. (Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Alta I. Cutler, U.S. Navy Photograph 020209-N-1587C-079, Navy NewsStand)

The ship was inactivated and stricken from the Navy List on 6 April 2009, and then transferred to the Naval Sea Systems Command Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility at Philadelphia, Pa. MSC-manned salvage ship Grasp (T-ARS-51) towed Saturn to sea, and aircraft and ships of the George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) Carrier Strike Group, including guided missile cruisers Gettysburg (CG-64) and Philippine Sea (CG-58), guided missile destroyer Mitscher (DDG-57), Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawks of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 70, and Lockheed P-3C Orions from Patrol Squadrons 10 and 45, sank Saturn with 5-inch, 25 millimeter, Mk 15 Close In Weapon System, and .50 caliber gunfire, air-to-surface missiles, and bombs during a training exercise, about 250 miles off the North Carolina coast on 10 October 2010.

Saturn (AFS-10) III 1983-2009-101027-N-8913A-382
Gunfire slams into Saturn and sets the ship ablaze during her sinking exercise in North Carolina waters, 10 October 2010. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Leonard Adams, U.S. Navy Photograph 101027-N-8913A-382, Navy NewsStand)

Detailed history under construction.

Mark L. Evans

3 April 2014

Published: Wed Sep 02 15:24:24 EDT 2015