AE-21 Suribachi / Nitro
Ammunition ships deliver munitions to warships. Ammunition ships keep the fleet supplied with ammunition and ordnance, independently or with other combat logistic ships. Ammunition is delivered by slings on ship-to-ship cables, and by helicopter.
Until recently the Navy operated two classes of ammunition ships: the Kilauea class and the Suribachi/Nitro class, though the units of the later closely related classes have been withdrawn from service. The five ships of the AE 21 SURIBACHI-class have been stricken, to be disposed of by Navy sale, or have been disposed of by Navy with title transfered to the Maritime Administration. The five ships of the AE 12 WRANGELL-class have been disposed of by Navy with title transfered to the Maritime Administration.
The Suribachi/Nitro class conducts underway replenishment in support of operating forces by simultaneously providing ammunition from 6 stations (2 starboard and 4 port) and stores, fleet freight, mail, personnel and other items from one station (either port or starboard): for periods normally not to exceed 32 hours per week. UNREP hours are considered to commence with "first line over" and terminate with "last line clear." All other workloads such as rigging, presaging of cargo, safety briefing, etc., will be counted under Utility Tasks and Evolutions (UT&E). They conduct vertical replenishment in support of operating forces by providing ammunition, stores, fleet freight, mail, personnel and other items from one helicopter platform with helicopters from other units for periods normally not to exceed 32 hours per week. This includes the time from the setting of flight quarters to securing from flight quarters.
USS Suribachi, a 17,450-ton ammunition ship, was built at Sparrows Point, Maryland. Commissioned in November 1956, she was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, frequently deploying to the Mediterranean to provide ammunition and other supplies to ships operating there. In 1963, she was modernized with new "FAST" underway replenishment gear and a helicopter deck, both of which enabled her to supply cargo more rapidly and in a greater variety of conditions. Suribachi made one deployment to the Far East in 1972-73 to support Vietnam operations, and in the Summer of 1990 she steamed to the Persian Gulf area to participate in Operation "Desert Shield". She decommissioned in December 1994 and was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register two years later. At the present time she is still in Navy custody, at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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