Ship details: Displacement 2,474 t.(lt) 6,240 t.(fl); Length 338' 9"; Beam 50' 3"; Draft 16' 10"; Speed 10.7kts; Complement, 62; Propulsion, diesel, single propeller, 1,700shp.
T-AG-175 Sgt Curtis F. Shoup was laid down on 16 April 1945 under a Maritime Commission Contract as "Spindle Eye" (MC hull 2381) by Kaiser Cargo Inc., Richmond, Calif.; launched on 25 May 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Edgar Buttner; and delivered to the Lykes Bros. Steamship Co. on 9 July 1945.
Sgt. Curtis F. Shoup was designed to ferry war correspondents, but World War II ended before she could perform this duty. Hence, most of her early career was spent in the Maritime Administration's National Defense Reserve Fleet.
A notice of press release [Department of the Army, Public Information Division, Press Section; for Release in Am Papers, Wednesday, November 19, 1947; Army Renames 20 Vessels for Medal of Honor Heroes (Record Group 336)] at National Archives and Records Administration gives the background: "All but one of the ships to be renamed were former Victory ships, Liberty ships and small Diesel ships which had been employed to move troops and cargo during the war. The exception is the S.S. "Spindle Eye," which is to be renamed the "Sergeant Curtis F. Shoup." This vessel was outfitted and used as a news transmission ship during the atom bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. It has since been converted to a passenger-cargo vessel."
On 16 January 1963, Sgt. Curtis F. Shoup was transferred to the Military Sea Transport Service (MSTS), and she was placed on the Navy list on 1 March. After conversion by Willamette Iron & Steel in Portland, Oreg., for service as a helicopter freighter, Sgt. Curtis F. Shoup was assigned to MSTS, Pacific Area. Reporting on 14 June, she teamed up with Harris County (LST-822) in the southwest Pacific, servicing survey sites which were being established to support the nation's missile and space projects.
Air Force helicopter's flew from her deck, and she carried four to six oceanographers from the Naval Oceanographic Office in Washington. Charts and sailing directions for the historic World War II area were revised as a result.
In May 1968, USNS Shoup conducted various oceanographic operations along a track pattern from roughly 20 to 140 miles from the Egyptian coast.
Sgt. Curtis F. Shoup was withdrawn from service and stripped of oceanographic equipment on 20 December 1969. On 22 January 1970, she was returned to the Maritime Administration and laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay, Calif. Sgt. Curtis F. Shoup was struck from the Navy list on 28 April 1970. On 9 May 1973, she was sold to Mr. John Liu of Washington, D.C., for non-transportation purposes. Fate unknown.
Offshore radio station: Operation Crossroads was an atmospheric nuclear weapon test series conducted in the summer of 1946. The series consisted of two detonations, each with a yield of 23 kilotons:
1. ABLE detonated at an altitude of 520 feet (158 meters) on 1 July
2. BAKER detonated 90 feet (27 meters) underwater on 25 July.
It was the first nuclear test held in the Marshall Islands.
The series was to study the effects of nuclear weapons on ships, equipment, and material. A fleet of more than 90 vessels was assembled in Bikini Lagoon as a target. This target fleet consisted of older U.S. capital ships, three captured German and Japanese ships, surplus U.S. cruisers, destroyers and submarines, and a large number of auxiliary and amphibious vessels. Military equipment was arrayed on some of the ships as well as amphibious craft that were berthed on Bikini Island.
The support fleet of more than 150 ships provided quarters, experimental stations, and workshops for most of the 42,000 men (more than 37,000 of whom were Navy personnel) of Joint Task Force 1 (JTF 1), the organization that conducted the tests. Additional personnel were located on nearby atolls such as Eniwetok and Kwajalein. The islands of the Bikini Atoll were used primarily as recreation and instrumentation sites.
The Sindle Eye was the successor of the GHQ Communications ship, Apache, with call letters WVLC... During 1945, the Spindle Eye underwent a first class face lifting under the supervision of the Transportation Corps, converting it from an Army transport to a special Army Communications ship. The ship was completed and sailed ahead of schedule to join the invasion fleet, but by a queer turn of fate the Atomic Bomb, with which the Spindle Eye was later to be associated in "Operation Crossroads", brought hostilities with Japan to an aprupt conclusion. The ship continued its course, however, changing its destination to Tokyo Bay, and was used for press and public relations activities by the Army Public Relations people at General Headquaters at Tokyo. She made several cruises to the various islands in the vicinity of Japan, to Korea and the China coast, carrying public relations and press representatives into these sections for stories furnished the American press. In February 1946, she was designated to paticipate in Operation Crossroads and was ordered to proceed to Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands, and placed at the disposal of the Commander of Joint Task Force One.
The special equipment carried by the ship was as follows: An RCA 7.5 kW, high frequency voice transmitter, and a Hallicrafters BC610 transmitter. A master, sound treated broadcast studio, with specially constructed soundproof visual panel, providing the master control complete unobstructed observation of the studio. An auxilliary broadcast studio specially eqipped to make recordings with a similar visual panel to facilitate observation from the recording laboratory, which was immediately adjacent thereto... The ship was designated reponsibilities of handling all voice broadcasts, press dispatches and radio photos filed by the various broadcast and press representative communication facilities installed in the joint communications center on the island. For the purpose of Operation Crossroads her call letters WVLC, were changed to NIGF.
During the early days of the atomic tests and rehearsals considerable difficulty was experienced in putting a consistently reliable signal into RCA at San Francisco, and Press Wireless at Los Angeles which was attributed to the peculiar orientation of the transmitting antennas... In addition to the delta-fed doublet antennas an inverted, unterminated V antenna was constructed between the ship's mainmast and special buoys anchored in place in the lagoon. This arrangement improved signal strength by 30 per-cent. [Taken from: Radio News, December 1946]
During the second test, broadcast ship Spindle Eye was wisely moved to Hawaii to improve radio transmission to the United states by acting as relay between the Appalachian and Mt McKinley and the mainland. [Taken from: Radio News, September 1946]
Location: The Kwajalein lagoon in the Marshall Islands, Mid-Pacific