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White Sands

(ARD-20: l. 291'8"; b. 81'; dr. 32'10"  (subm.); cpl. 112; cl. ARD-12)

A region of white (gypsum) sand dunes in Dona Ana County in southern New Mexico.

ARD-20, an auxiliary repair dock, was laid down on 20 December 1943 at Alameda, Calif., by the Pacific Bridge Co.; launched early in 1944; and placed in service on 31 March 1944, Lt. Comdr. Gutav Jones, USNR, in command.

After training at the Drydock Training Center located at Tiburon, Calif., she departed San Francisco Bay on 11 June under tow of SS Stratford Point. She stopped briefly at Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides Islands before arriving at her assigned base, Seeadler Harbor, at Manus in the Admiralty Islands, on 12 August. As a unit of the 7th Fleet's Service Squadron 3, ARD-20 repaired battle-damaged ships at Manus for the next eight months. On 16 April 1945, ATA-17G towed her out of Seeadler Harbor and set a course for Morotai Island located just north of Halmahera in the northern Moluccas. The two vessels arrived at Morotai on 29 April. She conducted repairs at Morotai until 24 July when she was towed to Manicani Island repair base-located near Samar in the Philippines, where she spent 19 months.

She departed Manicani on 25 February 1947, under tow by SS Robert Eden, and arrived in Apra Harbor, Guam, on 9 March. Later in the year, SS Robert Hartley towed her by way of Pearl Harbor to San Pedro, Calif., where the two vessels arrived on 11 September. She was placed out of service on 7 October 1947 and berthed with the San Pedro Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet.

Eighteen years later, in October 1965, she was moved to the Long Beach Naval Shipyard where work began on her modernization and conversion. On 14 September 1966, she was placed in service as ARD(BS)-20, a bathyscaph support auxiliary repair dock, and assigned to the Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet, to conduct CNO research projects related to deep submergence vehicles and their operation. On 9 March 1968, she was named White Sands, and her hull designation was shortened back to ARD-20. From 1968, White Sands conducted tests with the deep submergence vehicle Trieste in various open ocean environments. Those tests took place near the Undersea Weapons Center near San Clemente Island, Calif. In February 1969, she departed the west coast to participate in the search for the nuclear submarine Scorpion (SSN-589) lost near the Azores. She concluded her part in that assignment early in August and returned, via the Panama Canal, to San Diego on 7 October 1969. There, she resumed her research assignment with deep submergence vehicles. On 1 August 1973, White Sands was reclassified an auxiliary deep submergence support ship, AGDS-1. She served under that designation until late in the summer of 1974 when she was placed out of service. Her name was struck from the Navy list in September 1974, and she was sold for scrapping.

Published: Mon Nov 02 09:20:46 EST 2015