USNS Corpus Christi Bay – The Army Aviation Floating Workshop
On 7 August 1964, MARAD transferred the ship — earmarked for conversion to a floating aeronautical maintenance facility for helicopters — back to the Navy. On 27 March 1965, the ship was reinstated on the Navy Vessel Register and received the new name and classification USNS Corpus Christi Bay (T-ARVH-1), named for Corpus Christi Bay in the southern Texas Coastal Bend; the ship was transferred to the Military Sealift Command (MSC) on 11 January 1966. Converted at the Charleston Naval Shipyard to an Aircraft Repair Ship, Helicopter, Corpus Christi Bay emerged from the yard only faintly resembling her former self. Gone was the prominent seaplane ramp, aft, replaced by a built-up superstructure topped by a helicopter landing pad measuring 50 ft (15 m) by 150 ft (46 m). Previously, damaged helicopters had to be transported back to the U.S. for refit; with the advent of this “new” ship type, repairs could be accomplished near the forward areas, damaged “helos” barged out to the ship and lifted on board by two 20 short tons (18 t) capacity cranes.
Accepted by MSC in January 1966, Corpus Christi Bay’s first commander was Captain Harry Anderson, who had a crew of 129 men, a fraction of the ship’s original complement, under him. Accompanying the ship on her first deployment in support of forces in Vietnam was the Army’s 1st Transportation Corps Battalion (Seaborne), 308 aircraft technicians and specialists under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Harry O. Davis, USA. The ship operated out of Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam, during 1966. During the Vietnam War Corpus Christi Bay participated in several campaigns from 1966–1969. Ultimately determined by MSC to be “in excess of current and future requirements”. Corpus Christi Bay was taken out of service in 1973 and berthed in ready reserve status at Corpus Christi, Texas.
Corpus Christi Bay was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 31 December 1974. On 17 July 1975, the ship was sold to Brownsville (Texas) Steel and Salvage, Inc. for scrapping.