USS White Plains

The Orient Express

ships logo USS White Plains

USS White Plains AFS-4

Sources: Wikipedia,, and

Short facts:

Namesake: White Plains, New York
Builder: National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, San Diego
Laid down: 2 October 1965
Launched: 26 July 1966
Sponsored by: Mrs. Bob Wilson
Commissioned: 23 November 1968
Decommissioned: 17 April 1995
Struck: 24 August 1995
Nickname(s): "The Orient Express"
Fate: Sunk as target 8 July 2002

General characteristics

Class and type: Mars-class combat stores ship
Displacement: 17,500 long tons (17,781 t) full load
Length: 581 ft (177.1 m)
Beam: 79 ft (24.1 m)
Draft: 25 ft (7.6 m)
Propulsion: 3 × Babcock & Wilcox boilers, 580 psi (3.7 MPa), 8250 °F (4400 °C) 1 × De Laval turbine, 1 shaft
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph)
Complement: 42 Commissioned officers and 445 enlisted personnel
Armament: 4 × 3"/50 caliber guns (2×2) (originally 6) Chaff launchers 4 × M240G 7.62×51mm medium machine guns or M249 5.56×45mm light MG 1 × M2 12.7×99mm heavy machine gun when security detachment is embarked 2 × Vulcan Phalanx CIWS
Aircraft carried: 2 × CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters

USS White Plains (AFS-4) was the fourth Mars-class combat stores ship of the United States Navy. The ship was named after the city of White Plains, New York, scene of the Battle of White Plains during the American Revolutionary War.


White Plains was laid down on 2 October 1965 by the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego. She was launched on 26 July 1966, sponsored by Mrs. Bob Wilson, and commissioned at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard at Long Beach, California, on 23 November 1968, with Captain Thomas B. Brenner in command.

The combat stores ship spent the first nine months of her commissioned service engaged in a series of routine post-commissioning activities in California waters. In February 1969, she went through a series of qualification trials in preparation for her final contract trials which she passed successfully in mid-March. Shakedown training followed in April, and post-shakedown availability at the San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard occupied her time during the last half of May and the first three weeks of June. During the second week in July, the ship participated in her first fleet exercise, Operation "Beagle Baron." She spent the last half of the month making preparations for her first deployment to the western Pacific.

The White Plains is known as the Orient Express,and spent almost all of her career in Westpac and IO service.

The Orient Express

On 20 August 1969, White Plains stood out of San Francisco Bay and shaped a course for the Far East. On 3 September, she reached her first port of call in the Orient, Yokosuka. While in Japan, she also visited Sasebo before getting underway on 16 September for Subic Bay and thence to the Vietnam combat zone. After topping off her replenishment cargo at Subic Bay, the ship arrived in Vietnamese waters on 23 September. There, she cruised for 14 days engaged in underway replenishment opera-tons with warships of the 7th Fleet on station off the coast. The deployment lasted for another four months during which she made three more replenishment cruises in the combat zone along the Vietnamese coast. On 11 February 1970, White Plains departed Subic Bay on her way home. She stopped at Pearl Harbor near the end of the month and arrived in San Francisco on 5 March.

The combat stores ship remained in the United States only three months. During that time, she took the normal post-deployment standdown break, underwent a restricted availability, and conducted refresher and type training. On 10 July, she headed back to the western Pacific for her second tour of duty in the Vietnam conflict. She reported for duty with the 7th Fleet on 22 July and, between that time and early December, made five different replenishment cruises in the combat zone.

First crossing the line ceremony took place 09 Sep 1970

On 8 December 1970, the ship departed Yokosuka, Japan, to return to the United States. She arrived back in San Francisco on 18 December and immediately commenced post-deployment standdown. On 15 April 1971, she began her first regular overhaul at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, and it occupied her until 8 July when she put to sea for post-overhaul trials. Type and refresher training took up the remainder of July as well as August and September. In October, she began preparations for her third deployment to the western Pacific.

On 20 November 1971, White Plains stood out of San Francisco Bay on her way to the Far East and, after a two-week voyage, arrived in Subic Bay on 7 December. Again, she made a series of replenishment cruises in the Vietnam combat zone and punctuated them with visits to such ports as Hong Kong; Singapore; Sattahip, Thailand; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; and Subic Bay. She remained in the Far East for over seven months and conducted 10 replenishment cruises to Vietnamese waters.

Shellback Initiation - 8 FEB 1972 - Pacific Ocean

On 8 July 1972, White Plains departed Sasebo, Japan, and shaped a course for home. She arrived at Oakland, Calif., on 19 July and remained there until 5 September at which time she moved to Alameda for a restricted availability at the Todd Shipyard. The ship completed repairs on 3 October and began preparations to return to the western Pacific.

On 31 October, the combat stores ship got underway from Alameda and set a westerly course. After a two-week voyage, she entered her new home port, Sasebo, on 13 November. There, she immediately began another restricted availability, this time for conversion of her propulsion system to the use of Navy distillate fuel. That conversion took up the remainder of 1972 and the first 15 days of 1973.

White Plains' return to duty coincided with the end of American involvement in the Vietnam war; however, that did not signal an end to duty in Vietnamese waters. Through the first seven months of 1973, she continued to make replenishment cruises in the former combat zone to bring stores to the American ships engaged in Operation "End Sweep," the taking up of mines planted by the Navy in North Vietnamese waters during the war. "End Sweep" came to a conclusion late in July, and White Plains began real peacetime duty at that point.

Shellback Initiation - 9 APR 1973 - Pacific Ocean

White Plains (AFS-4) earned seven battle stars during the Vietnam conflict.