USS White Plains AFS-4Sources: Wikipedia, navsource.com, and Hullnumber.com
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 characteristicsClass 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.
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.
- During the Vietnam War USS White Plains participated in the following campaigns:
- 23 September to 7 October 1969
- 30 to 31 October 1969
- 1 to 13 November 1969
- 24 December 1969 to 28 February 1970
- 30 July to 12 August 1970
- 29 August to 9 September 1970
- 15 to 17 September 1970
- 24 September to 6 October 1970
- 22 October to 3 November 1970
- 15 to 25 November 1970
- 11 to 17 December 1971
- 20 to 21 December 1971
- 1 to 7 January 1972
- 30 January to 5 February 1972
- 7 to 9 February 1972
- 14 to 15 February 1972
- 23 February to 4 March 1972
- 9 to 12 March 1972
- 21 to 29 March 1972
- 30 to 31 March 1972
- 12 to 20 April 1972
- 30 April to 11 May 1972
- 20 to 29 May 1972
- 8 to 17 June 1972
- 19 to 28 January 1973
- 4 to 12 February 1973
- 19 to 23 February 1973
- 24 to 28 March 1973
For the next two years, she operated out of Sasebo making periodic voyages to provide supplies to units of the Fleet at sea. She also made the usual port calls throughout the Orient and participated in training exercises, notably with units of the Republic of Korea Navy in November of 1974 and January of 1975.
She participated in Operation "Frequent Wind" - the evacuation of Saigon, 29–30 April 1975
On 1 August 1975, she changed home ports from Sasebo to Yokosuka and, on 5 September, began regular overhaul at her new base of operations. That repair period lasted until 15 April 1976 at which time she resumed her replenishment duty with the 7th Fleet.
The year 1976 proved a very active one for White Plains. In addition to her normal duty supplying the 7th Fleet, she joined in three non-routine operations. Late in May and early in June, she voyaged to the Mariana Islands where Typhoon Pamela had just wreaked so much havoc. The ship carried supplies to the relief of the storm-battered island of Guam. During the second week of July, she interrupted her normal routine again, this time to rush to the Indian Ocean, via Subic Bay, to resupply the carrier contingency force sent to patrol the eastern coast of Africa during the flare-up between Kenya and Uganda. She remained in the Indian Ocean until 5 August whereupon she headed back to Yokosuka to resume her normal support duties with the 7th Fleet. On 27 September, she departed Yokosuka for another special mission. During the next five weeks, she sailed to Australia, participated in the bilateral amphibious and antisubmarine exercise Operation "Kangaroo II," visited the Australian port of Townsville, and then returned to Yokosuka. She arrived back in her home port on 11 November and resumed her duties keeping the fleet supplied.
Shellback Initiation - 20 JUL 1976 - Pacific Ocean
Shellback Initiation - 20 JUL 1978 - Indian Ocean
In 1978 The USS White Plains was struck by the USS Mount Vernon during an underway replenishment operation.While the collision did destroy some of the flight deck safety nets and a few radio antennas no serious damage was done to either ship.
In 1978 in the straits of Malacca the ship lost power and propulsion while being followed by a supertanker; collision was imminent, and the call went to man the life boat stations; collision was avoided, but it was a close call.
Shellback Initiation - 22 APR 1979 - Indian Ocean
NOV 1979 - JUL 1980 Deployed West Pac-Indian Ocean-Persian Gulf
Shellback Initiation - 18 APR 1982 - Pacific Ocean
DEC 1982 - MAR 1983 Installation of CIWS (Close In Weapon System) Yokosuka Japan
White Plains was used as the trial vessel for the class to mount the two Vulcan Phalanx CIWS. The ship retained the Phalanx systems after decision was made not to mount them on the rest of the class.
AUG 1983 - MAR 1984 Mediterranean-Indian Ocean-Persian Gulf
SEP 1984 - OCT 1984 Homeport shifted from Yokosuka Japan to Guam
Shellback Initiation - 7 NOV 1984 - Indian Ocean
Shellback Initiation - 29 JUL 1985 - Indian Ocean
On 9 May 1989, while underway in the South China Sea en route to Guam, the White Plains experienced a major Class Bravo fire in the main engine room while conducting underway fuel replenishment with the combat replenishment ship USS Sacramento (AOE-1). The fire resulted from the ejection of a valve stem on the fuel transfer system which sent a high-pressure spray of fuel over the boiler and consequently ignited into a fireball. The cause of the valve stem ejection was from navy supply system black coated/painted fasteners, that were not the right type of metal (brass vs. copper) to withstand the pressure and heat of the system and environment. It was determined after an investigation that navy logistics had purchased the black coated fasteners for use on ship fuel systems, without confirming or inspecting their metal content. After the tragedy, a complete review of these fasteners was conducted navy wide. There were 6 fatalities and 161 injuries reported as a result of the fire. See Memorial Page
Shellback Initiation - 16 SEP 1990 - Pacific Ocean
In January 1991 the White Plains was relieved from its deployment in the Persian Gulf by sister ship Niagara Falls.
MAY 1991 - OCT 1991 Desert Storm
In early August 1992, the ship received an extensive refit, including her main steam plant. Later that same month, as the ship was unable to be sortee on its own power, its mooring lines were reinforced with anchor chain and steel cables to keep it moored to the pier as Typhoon Omar approached the island of Guam. On 27 August 1992, under the command of Capt. Robin Y. Weber, the ship weathered the initial pass of the eye of Super Typhoon Omar. After a relative calm and then the final pass of the eye of Typhoon Omar, White Plains was torn from her moorings. The ship with its skeleton crew rode out Omar's 150 mph winds in Apra Harbor. The ship ultimately ran aground on the coral beach. The responsibility for the safe mooring of a ship during repair lies with the shipyard. At the beginning of the repair availability the ships first lieutenant meet with Ship Repair Facility Guam engineers and developed a plan to moor the ship in the event of a typhoon. The plan took into account the surface area of exposed portions of the ship and pounds per square inch of expected force generated by typhoon winds along with the strength of pier cleats, bollards and deadmen. The plan required more lines than were a part of the ship's normal complement. An agreement was reached about which lines would be provided by the ship and which would be provided by the shipyard. All lines were to be of nylon construction. On the morning of the storm's approach the shipyard riggers used springlay mooring lines. Springlay is a combination of wire and synthetic fiber and does not stretch. Nylon mooring lines can stretch up to a third of their length with no damage to the line. Despite the first lieutenant's protest of the incompatibility of the two types of mooring lines, the shipyard's riggers claimed they had no other lines available. This resulted in the springlay mooring lines holding almost the full force of the winds while the strength of the nylon mooring lines was not fully utilized. The springlay lines gave way followed by the nylon lines. In the weeks following Typhoon Omar, the eyes of two other typhoons passed over the ship while still in the shipyard. During these events the original mooring plan was utilized using all nylon mooring lines and the ship rode out both typhoons with no problems.
Very fortunate to have run aground near Polaris Point, after the ship left the pier in the storm, the ship lost its only power source for a day, a notoriously fickle emergency diesel generator. The generator situation was corrected after several hours and troubleshooting, and ultimately solved by a simple observation made by the electrical officer, LTJG Lee, that a control governor mechanical linkage was undone. Essential power for emergency services were restored to the ship, enabling the crew to handle any flooding or fire that would occur. While the ship was aground for 3–5 days, the crew sustained on MREs, and helped plan, along with harbor operations, for her ungrounding. There was no real damage to the ship's hull.
The ship recovered completely from the grounding and was underway for Gulf operations in May 1993.
SEP 1993 - AUG 1994 Desert Shield
Shellback Initiation - 30 NOV 1993 - Indian Ocean
Shellback Initiation - 30 NOV 1994 - Indian Ocean
Shellback Initiation - 14 JAN 1995 - Pacific Ocean
The ship was decommissioned on 17 April, 1995.
On 8 July 2002, White Plains was sunk as a target in the Pacific Ocean at 22°55′00.9″N 160°10′00.3″W, during the RIMPAC 02 exercise in waters 2,570 fathoms (15,420 feet; 4,700 meters) deep.
Secretary of the Navy Letter of Commendation
Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - Navy Unit Commendation
Second Row - Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation (3) - Navy Battle "E" Ribbon (6) -Navy Expeditionary Medal (5-Iran/Indian Ocean)
Third Row - National Defense Service Medal - Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Op Frequent Wind, Op Sharpe Edge, Liberia) - Vietnam Service Medal (5) - Southwest Asia Service Medal - Humanitarian Services Medal (Typhoon Pamela, Boat People, Rescue of M/V Lica crew) - Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal