- THE VIETNAM CENTER AND ARCHIVE
- Texas Tech University
This week the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) transferred a number of naval artifacts from the SS Pioneer Commander to the Vietnam Archive. The Pioneer Commander, laid down in 1962 as the SS American Commander, participated in the evacuation of South Vietnam in March 1975 from Danang and Cam Ranh Bay. That month the Pioneer Commander and other Military Sealift Command ships evacuated over 30,000 Americans and South Vietnamese soldiers and civilians. In 1981, the Pioneer Commander was transferred to MARAD to become part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet in Beaumont, TX.
The Vietnam Center and Archive’s relationship with MARAD began in 2005 when staff members from the Archive traveled to Suisun Bay in California to remove canvas bunk bottoms and other artifacts off of two ships, the USNS General John Pope and the USNS General Edwin D. Patrick, as part of our Vietnam Graffiti Project.
Artifacts transferred from the Pioneer Commander include an azimuth circle, binnacle, engine order telegraphs, the builder’s plate, navigation lights, a gyro repeater, and a 14 foot-long name plate. In the coming months these items will be processed and images of the artifacts will be made available on the Virtual Vietnam Archive as part of the SS Pioneer Commander (AK-2016) Collection.
We especially want to thank the Maritime Administration for their assistance with this project.
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