Ships of the Nitro/Suribachi Class AEs

USS Pyro (AE-24)

Pyro Patch
USS Pyro fantail, original configurationUSS Pyro (AE-24)

        Navy Unit          Meritorious Unit       Battle "E" Ribbon     National Defense
                                    Commendation     Commendation
Navy Unit CommendationMeritorious Unit Commendation Battle Efficiency RibbonNational Defense Medal
bronze star award                                              1 award star1 award star1 award star1 award star                     

Armed Forces     Vietnam Service     Southwest Asia     Sea Service
                            Expeditionary Medal         Ribbon                 Service Medal     Deployment Ribbon
Armed Forces Expeditionary MedalVietnam Service RibbonSW Asia Service MedalSea Service Deployment Ribbon
                           bronze star award

The following information, gathered from the Naval Vessel Register Web Site and Ships Factsheets from United States Navy's BBS, provides specific statistics of the USS Pyro:

USS Pyro (AE-24), launching.  Photo courtsey of Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Bethlehem, PA
Photo of USS Pyro (AE-24) launching courtsey of Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Bethlehem, PA.

Light Displacement: 10042 tons
Full Displacement: 15,981 tons full load
Dead Weight: 5939 tons
Overall Length: 512 feet
Waterline Length: 487 feet
Extreme Beam: 72 feet
Waterline Beam: 72 feet
Maximum Navigational Draft: 28 feet
Draft Limit: 29 feet
Speed: Approximately 20 knots
Power Plant: Two boilers, geared turbines, one shaft,
16,000 shaft horsepower
Aircraft: None
Armament: Four three-inch/50-caliber guns
Complement: Officers: 19 - Enlisted: 330
Builders: Bethlehem Steel, Sparrows Point, MD
Launch Date: 05 November 1958
Commission Date: 24 July 1959
Decommission Date: 31 May 1994
Age in years: 34.9

Home Ports: Concord, CA
Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet, Benecia, CA As of 17 August 2000
Status: Stricken, to be disposed of, type of disposal not known


Photos & Information from
GMT3 Tony Medeiros, USS Pyro (AE-24), 1963-64

The prototype FAST (Fully Automatic Shuttle Transfer) system was installed on the USS PYRO (AE-24) at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, San Francisco California during a yard period the summer of 1963. Up until this time, the system was developed and tested on a pier and had never been tested under actual ship to ship transfers and in rough weather conditions. Once it was installed (between the superstructure and # 3 hold, we took on ballast, trailers on the main deck, cameramen, directors, etc. and engineers from BUWEPS, BUSHIPS, and Hunters Point) and got underway. For about three weeks we tested the system with a guided missile destroyer.

While all of this was going on the Hollywood gang was filming it all for a NAVY training film and yours truly became one of the stars. I was the first and only GMT on board and responsible for # 2 hold so I was used for all of the guided Missile sequences. I never got to see the completed film. We were told that the film had to be completed quickly as the USS Sacramento was nearing completion and would be commissioned soon. She was to be the first ship with FAST gear and they need the film to train crew members. Most of the 3 weeks of testing and filming was done in very rough seas (intentionally, we actually chased storms) to test the system under the most severe conditions.

Following the test and filming we dropped off the film crew and ballast and went to San Diego to certify for deployment. At that time we passed our first BUWEPS NTPI and earned the Navy Battle Efficiency E as the best AE in PACFLT for 1964 also a first for the ship. By the way, our skipper was Captain James M. O'Brian at that time.

We then returned to Port Chicago (Concord California) Concord Naval Weapons Station to load out for our next WESTPAC cruise which turned out to be 80% of our time shuttling between Subic Bay PI and Viet Nam and servicing two task groups including the Midway and the Kittyhawk. When I left the ship in September 1964 the FAST gear was still installed. I can't recall if we ever used it again. Maybe once or twice for some Talos missiles and boosters over to some Cruisers while on the WESTPAC cruise.


AE Performance records of USS Pyro (AE-24)

info from 1980 Pyro Cruise Book provided by Tony Medeiros
PYRO has subsequently completed fourteen highly successful deployments to the Western Pacific. The first four deployments as well as the last three were designed to maintain fleet readiness. The fifth through eleventh deployments were in support of the Seventh Fleet in combatant missions during the Vietnam conflict.

Throughout her career, PYRO has repeatedly set and broken performance records for ammunition ships. In slightly more than one year, May 1965 through August 1966, PYRO broke her own replenishment record, and the fleet's no less than six times, while working with various aircraft carriers off the of Vietnam coast. During this time she built her transfer rate from 141.8 tons per hour to over 312 tons per hour -- this while operating mainly at night. In her 1972 deployment PYRO set another Navy record by servicing 364 ships and transferring over 36,000 tons of ammo.

PYRO's 1974 deployment saw her assuming the additional role of providing fuel as well as ordinance to the Fleet. Pumping 650,000 gallons of fuel to receiving ships, PYRO set a new record at the time for a non-oiler in refueling SEVENTH Fleet units. On her 1976 deployment, PYRO's new role was a primary support ship to conduct the redistribution of propositioned war reserve ordnance stored at Kego, Yokosuka, Japan to Sasebo, Japan and Subic Bay, Republic of Philippines. More than 7800 tons of ordinance were re-distributed in record time and with perfect safety.

Subsequent to an overhaul in 1977, PYRO made her final two deployments to the Western Pacific in 1978 and 1980. During the 1980 deployment, PYRO served as the main service support ship in WESTPAC while other service support ships supported the contingency forces in the Indian Ocean. During this time, PYRO serviced four aircraft carriers conducting major ammunition transfers with each as well as with destroyers, cruisers, and support ships of the carrier task forces.

PYRO has been awarded two NAVY Unit Commendations and one Meritorious Unit Commendation. Additionally, she has earned two Battle Efficiency "E's" as well as an assortment of Departmental Excellence awards.


Information on STREAM equipment of USS Pyro (AE-24)

info provided by Carl Magann (EM2, 1976-78)
Regarding the Standard Tensioned Replenishment Alongside Method, wow.. wish I took notes... the air Winch was located on the starboard side near the stern, station 3 if my memory serves me well. The winch controllers on the Hydraulic winches were upgraded to the Denison 3 family, which had plug in modules instead of hard wired ones. The winches were removed and overhauled by Port Hueneme.

The Air Winch used clutches controlled by air bags on a common shaft. Drums were counter wound on the the shaft. Controlling air pressure controlled the amount of pressure applied to the winch cable. Hands off in Auto applied around 1000 pounds of tension on the line, to a maximum of 5 or 6 thousand on the inhaul, and 300 - 500 on the outhaul.. Tricky part of the system was getting the cable across, but once connected on the STREAM block, worked quite well.

Frigate approach for UNREPDestroyer Escort approach for UNREP

USS Pyro (AE-1) the Namesake of the USS Pyro (AE-24)

These photos are of the USS Pyro (AE-1) shortly after her launching in 1920 and of her first Commanding Officer, Commander Graham

USS Pyro (AE-1) circa 1920, photo courtsey of Scott Lucas Commanding Officer, USS Pyro (AE-1) 1920

Photos are courtsey of Scott Lucas, great grandson of Seaman First Class Vincent George Lucas (deceased). Seaman First Class Lucas was on board Pyro from 1920-1923.

USS Pyro (AE-1 & AE-24) Association

Former shipmates or anyone else interested in finding out more about either the USS Pyro (AE-1) or USS Pyro (AE-24) may contact the Pyro Association at:

USS Pyro Association
Bob Hauge, Secretary (Newsletter)
10460 Sandpiper Ave.
Brooksville, FL 34614-0900
Email address:

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