Aboard the USS Seattle (AOE-3) Homepage by Bill Spies

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The USS Seattle AOE-3

USS Seattle AOE-3

This picture is from a postcard I purchased from the ships store. Soon after I boarded her in either late January, or early February, 1979. Notice the front of the ship still has the old 3" 50ís, these were removed during her major overhaul in the Brooklyn Navy Yards.

Bill Spies

I was just 21 years old when I boarded the ship in Rota, Spain. I left home on January 20, 1979 (right after a major snow storm that took place in Chicago) and flew to Rota where I waited for the ship to arrive. Here I am on the starboard side a friend taking the photo.I left the ship in October of 1981 as a MM3, and Qualified MMOW. Thanks to the US Navy ( and your tax dollars ) I got half way around the world before I was 23 years old.

USS Seattle Reunion List

I would like to establish a place here on the net so that others who were on this ship can contact each other. If you were stationed on this ship please e-mail me with your name, rank, what division you were in, and the dates you served. If you like, you may provide an e-mail or mailing address or a link to your home page or a phone number so that others may contact you if you wish. Please keep in mind that any information you send me may be published on the page.


Mission and Capability



SEATTLE is a fast combat support ship designed to supply the ships of the attack carrier strike force with fuel oil, aircraft fuel, ordnance, frozen and fresh food, and Fleet freight at a rapid rate of transfer, using conventional con-rep rigs and CH-46A Helicopters for vertical replenishment. She was constructed at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington. Her keel was laid 1 October 1965. On 2 March 1968, she was christened and launched. Her commissioning took place on 5 April 1969.

Shortly afterward, she sailed via the Panama Canal to her home port in Norfolk, Virginia. To date, SEATTLE has deployed to the Mediterraneannine times, and has been involved in numerous Atlantic Fleet Operations. She has been named "King of the MED" for her super service and reliability. SEATTLE finished her second major overhaul in the old Brooklyn Naval Shipyard in November 1980. She has since completed her 2,000th UNREP and is still going strong. In other words, SEATTLE "CAN DO."


The idea of taking supplies to ships at sea and handling them across the water was new to the Navy at the turn of the century. Sailing ships had been able to stay where the action was for weeks or months; sea breezes provided the power, Sailor's diets were less complex, and round shot was more easily stocked than bombs and missiles.

"Then came the day of the steamship with its huge appetite for coal. The large men-of-war burned 50 tons of coal a day, and to keep their bunkers full, had to return to port every 10 days or so to re-coal."

"The Navy learned a lesson in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. The Spanish Fleet was blockaded in the Harbor of Santiago, Cuba. When the Spanish made a run for the open sea, three of our ships (including the old battleship MASSACHUSETTS) were 45 miles away being re-coaled at Guantanamo."

"The need for on-station at-sea refueling was obvious. Early efforts to solve the problem led to the development of a high-line for carrying bags of coal from a coaler to a warship, one in the wake of the other."

"World War One saw the beginning of the Navy's conversion to oil-burning ships, and soon the coalers were out of business."

"It took the pressure of the Second World War in the Pacific, which reached into the far corners of that ocean, to make Underway Replenishment (UNREP) a regular feature of Naval Operations. The war in the Pacific made new demands on the Navy; we had fighting ships and men, but our new mobility meant that supply lines had to be extended, quickly, in order to project our power across the oceans and keep it there."

"The Navy has come a long way since those days." SEATTLE, which is the third and largest of her class, is nearly twice the size of her older cousins. She carries more fuel than any oiler, and more ammunition ship's, groceries and clothing, office supplies, and hardware, too. SEATTLE is a virtual "...sea-going shopping center..."

"For want of a nail, the war was lost," said Ben Franklin. The job and mission of SEATTLE is to make sure that Fleet does not "...suffer by even the want of a single case of ammunition."

"As the Navy adds nuclear ships to its Fleet, it will slowly outgrow its thirst for black oil. But carrier jets will still need jet fuel, and jets have big appetites." Also, Navy men will never outgrow their need for fresh vegetables and meat, and mail from home."

"Wherever in the world they stand their duty, the Fleet that can deliver anything, anywhere, will find them." From: "Beans, Bullets, and Black Oil"