Year Built
1958
Official Number
986560
Ship Yard
Sun ShipBuilding & Drydock
General Type
Roll-On/Roll-Off
Specific Type
RO-RO (Vehicle Carrier)
Ship Length
499.0 feet
Beam
78.00 feet
Mast Height
147.5 feet
Net Tons
8920 tons
Gross Tons
13790 tons
Cargo Capacity
66275 square feet
Draft, Summer
27.40 tons
Draft, Lightweight
19.0 tons
Displacement, Summer
18286 tons
Displacement, Lightweight
8175 tons
Immersion, Summer
69.0 tons
Immersion, Lightweight
59.0 tons


Historical Narrative



Affectionately known by the nickname “Mother of All Ro/Ros,” (Ro/Ro, or Roll-on-Roll, off describes how cargo is loaded and unloaded) the former USNS Comet is a vehicle landing ship originally built for the U.S.  Navy. The lone ship of its class, it is named for the luminous astronomical body, and was the fourth U.S. naval vessel to bear the name.  Comet was built at Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company of Chester, Pennsylvania and was delivered in January 1958. The Comet is considered to be the first purpose-built oceangoing “Roll On/Roll Off” vessel. The Comet operated as part of the common user fleet of the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS), later Military Sealift Command (MSC). It was a notable participant in the U.S. response to the Lebanon Crisis in 1958.

In October 1961 Defense Secretary Robert McNamara projected that construction of five Comet -class Ro/Ro ships would begin in fiscal year 1963.  Although the full program did not come to pass, Comet’s military capabilities eventually came to revolutionize defense sealift, with large squadrons of multi-purpose Ro/Ro vessels dominating the MSC fleet by the latter half of the 1990s. An enlarged sisterly vessel, the Sea Lift (later renamed Meteor) was delivered to MSTS in 1967.

Comet was among a number of MSC cargo vessels assigned to the Ready Reserve Force (RRF) in Fiscal Year 1984, with administrative control transferred to the Maritime Administration.  Full title transfer came in the early 1990s.  Comet was stationed in the San Francisco Bay area and participated in numerous RRF exercises, and in the major deployment for Operations DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM.  Comet’s last service was for Operation IRAQI FREDOM in 2003. Upon its return from this service, the Comet was placed in a reduced operating status in Alameda, California.  It was downgraded from RRF status in 2006 and laid-up in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet.

Visit the USNS Comet in this 360-degree photographic tour, featuring 43 panoramic images of locations throughout the vessel.

The National Park Service completed a HAER Survey for USNS Comet, which can be viewed in the Documents section.

Historical Documents
Name Expand Download

Milestones


Event: Entry
Date: 3/15/1985

Entered Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet, in Benicia, California. Remained U.S. Navy asset until 6/1/1985.
Event: Acquisition
Date: 6/1/1985

US Navy transferred title to MARAD.
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 1/9/1997

Conducting sea trial
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 1/10/1997

Completed sea trial
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 7/14/1997

ENRTE: New outport at Alameda Point
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 7/14/1997

At new permanent homeport
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 2/26/1998

Conducting sea trial
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 2/27/1998

Completed sea trial
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 10/7/1999

Conducting sea trial
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 10/8/1999

Completed sea trial
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 4/25/2000

ENRTE: SBRF
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 4/25/2000

New homeport is SBRF
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 10/4/2000

ENRTE for dock trial and USCG inspection
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 10/4/2000

At Alameda Point
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 11/29/2000

ENRTE: SBRF
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 11/29/2000

Returned from Alameda
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 10/26/2001

Tow to Alameda CA for RRF maintenance
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 10/26/2001

At Alameda Point
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 11/6/2001

Shift to nesting position along METEOR
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 11/6/2001

Completed shift in nesting position
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 1/30/2002

Shifting to Pier 1 from Pier 3
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 1/30/2002

Completed shift to Pier 1
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 2/25/2002

Shifting to Pier 2 followig C BOVER move
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 2/25/2002

Completed shift from Pier 1 to Pier 2
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 8/7/2002

ENRTE: San Fransciso CA for drydocking
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 8/7/2002

At San Francisco Drydock for repairs
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 9/8/2002

Conducting maintenance sea trial
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 9/10/2002

Completed maintenance sea trial
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 9/15/2002

Conducting sea trial
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 9/15/2002

Completed sea trial
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 10/31/2002

Shifting outboard CAPE GIBSON to inboard
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 10/31/2002

Completed outboard to inboard shift
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 1/7/2003

Under tow to SBRF
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 1/7/2003

Returned from repairs at Alameda
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 2/13/2003

ENRTE: San Francisco Pier 50
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 2/13/2003

Event: Interim Movement
Date: 2/23/2003

Conducting sea trial
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 2/24/2003

Completed sea trial | MSC OPCON 02/24/03
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 2/27/2003

OP ENDURING FREEDOM
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 5/27/2003

Return f/ OP IRAQI FREEDOM|New Homeport
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 6/11/2003

Shifting to take fuel from CAPE BOVER
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 6/11/2003

Completed shift
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 6/19/2003

Shifting outboard of the METEOR
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 6/19/2003

Shift & fuel intake of CP BOVER complete
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 12/10/2004

Turbo Activation 05-01 sea trial
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 12/12/2004

Completed Turbo Activation 05-01 sea trial
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 7/26/2006

Downgraded from the RRF to NDRF Retention in the Fleet
Event: Interim Movement
Date: 7/26/2006

Downgraded from the RRF to NDRF Retention in the Fleet

Ship Imagery




Status Cards



Documents


Date Type Name Expand Download
11/13/2013 Comet_HAER_Report.pdf
10/2/2013 Comet MOA with California State History Preservation Officer.pdf