The amazing transformation of the ex SS Mormacdraco/American Draco/Beaver State – follow the photos below to see how this ship has been transformed over the years and into the unique arrangement she possess today.
As some who live and work near the Cascade General Shipyard in Portland, Oregon may have noted, a peculiar ship has been taking shape along the waterfront. A ship that appears to carry around a giant golf ball on its stern. What many may not realize is that this is not a newly built, highly technical ship, designed to the latest standards equipped with a modern propulsion system. Instead, it is an old workhorse that has been around for a few years, in fact, it is still powered by steam, and besides what you see on the outside, the interior of the house and machinery plant largely remain unchanged.
Originally laid down as a MARAD C6-S-60A type hull at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, MS in 1964, the SS Mormacdraco has seen some changes in her life. Her most recent conversion has resulted in the creation one of the most peculiar looking ships in the U.S. Fleet (besides the USNS Observation Island) and now has her serving as an X-Band Transportable Radar Ship, designated XTR-1 to perform missions supporting the Missile Defense Agency. She was converted at Cascade General Shipyards in Portland, OR and re-named SS Pacific Tracker on 1 April 2009. As part of the conversion, the large heavy lift cranes were removed from the ship, and a large radar dome added aft of the house. The ship also appears to have been fitted with several satellite tracking or communication dishes on the main deck.
- Laid down, 13 April 1964, as the break-bulk ship, SS Mormacdraco, a Maritime Administration type (C6-S-60a) hull, under Maritime Administration contract (MA 144) at Ingalls Shipbuilding Inc., Pascagoula, MS.
- Launched, 14 January 1965
- Delivered to the Moore-McCormack Lines, 28 May 1965
- Converted to a MARAD type hull (C6-S-MA60b) Crane Ship at National Steel and Shipbuilding Co., San Diego, CA.
- Renamed SS American Draco, 13 September 1983
- Transferred to the United States Lines, 1 November 1983
- Reacquired by the Maritime Administration (MARAD) in April 1987
- Assigned by the Maritime Administration to the Ready Reserve Force, (RRF), under operation control of the Military Sealift Command (MSC)
- Placed in service as SS Beaver State (ACS-10), 4 May 1997
- SS Beaver State (ACS-10) was berthed at Bremerton, WA. and assigned to Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron Three and was maintained in a five-day readiness status
- Removed from MSC control, withdrawn from the RRF by reassignment to the National Defense Reserve Fleet, 28 July 2006
- Converted for the Missile Defense Agency at Cascade General Shipyards, Portland, OR. to an X-Band Transportable Radar Ship, designated (XTR-1)
- Renamed SS Pacific Tracker, 1 April 2009.
For more on her conversion, and a description of some of the requirements and challenges faced in converting the SS Beaver State into the SS Pacific Tracker, I suggest checking out the thesis by Michael Lash from the Naval Postgraduate School.
Here are some additional photos from her conversion in Portland and recent trip out for sea trials: