Combat stores ship

Combat stores ship
USNS Spica, a combat stores ship.

Combat stores ships, or Storeships were originally a designation given to captured ships in the Age of Sail and immediately afterward, used to stow supplies and other goods for naval purposes. Modern combat store ships are operated by the United States Navy. Vessels of two classes, Sirius and Mars, provide supplies, including frozen, chilled and dry provisions, and propulsion and aviation fuel to combatant ships that are at sea for extended periods of time. In other navies, the term for the same type of ship is generally replenishment oiler, fleet replenisher, or fleet tanker and should not be confused with Fast combat support ships or tenders.



USS Celtic during the war with Spain in 1898.

Storeships were used by both the United States and the United Kingdom during the War of 1812. Again during the Mexican-American War in the Pacific and in the American Civil War captured enemy prizes that were not considered "war like" enough to be sold for prize money often became storeships for a naval force operating where no friendly ports are nearby. USS Fredonia participated in the Baja California Campaign in the War with Mexico. During the Spanish-American War and the Filippino War the American navy acquired the storeship USS Celtic and other similar vessels to serve in the Asiatic Squadron.

Combat stores ship

Six combat stores ships operated by Military Sealift Command provide supplies, including frozen, chilled and dry provisions, and propulsion and aviation fuel to United States Navy combatant ships that are at sea for extended periods of time. Combat stores ships do not carry ammunition for resupply.

Combat stores ships provide underway replenishment of all types of supplies, ranging from repair parts to fresh food, clothing and mail via tensioned cargo rigs and CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters or their commercial equivalents. Combat stores ships are being replaced by more capable class such as the Lewis and Clark class dry cargo ship in the US Navy.


USNS Concord (T-AFS-5) became the first of five Navy Mars-class ships to be transferred to Military Sealift Command on October 15, 1992. Mars followed on February 1, 1993, USNS San Diego on August 11, 1993, USNS San Jose on November 2, 1993, and USNS Niagara Falls on September 23, 1994. San Diego was deactivated on December 10, 1997, and Mars was deactivated on February 12, 1998. USNS Sirius (T-AFS-8) was transferred from the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary to MSC on January 18, 1981; USNS Spica (T-AFS-9) on November 5, 1981; and USNS Saturn (T-AFS-10) on December 13, 1983.


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