(USNS Sirius) A supply ship in the United States Military Sealift Command bearing the hull number T-AFS 8. The Sirius was commissioned by the United Kingdom's Royal Fleet Auxiliary in 1964, as the RFA Lyness, one of three Ness-class dry stores underway replenishment ships. It, and its sister ships RFA Stromness and RFA Tarbatness were sold to the United States in 1981, and recommissioned as USNS Sirius, USNS Saturn and USNS Spica respectively. Via a quirk of timing, the Saturn ended up bearing the hull number T-AFS 10, while Spica was T-AFS 9, even though Tarbatness was built after Stromness.
The vessels, now referred to as either Lyness-class or Sirius-class depending on who you ask, are 524 feet long, 72 feet wide at their widest point, and displace 9010 tons empty. When fully loaded with fuel, personnel and cargo, displacement increases to over 16000 tons. They are powered by 8-cylinder Wallsend-Sulzer marine diesel engines providing 8.6 megawatts of power, allowing a maximum speed of 18 knots. The original British design included a flight deck for helicopter operations, but no hangar. The United States has since added hangars to all three ships, and they can carry either the CH-46D Sea Knight or MH-60S Knighthawk helicopters, operated by military pilots, or the Aerospatiale Puma operated by civilian pilots for vertical replenishment and SAR operations. The CH-46 and MH-60 are also capable of performing limited ship defense missions against small boats or gunmen on shore.
They have considerable connected replenishment capabilities, in keeping with their mission of fleet logistics. There are three tensioned-wire cargo rigs and two fuel receiving stations on the port side and two tensioned-wire rigs, two fuel receiving stations, one fueling rig and a cargo receiving station to starboard.
By default, the class carries no armament or armor, though there are provisions for 8 small weapons up to 20mm.
Sirius herself is homeported out of Norfolk, Virginia and operates in support of Atlantic fleet Navy and Coast Guard vessels, from light cutters through carriers and heavy amphibs. She has a crew of roughly 160, of which about 30 are active-duty US Navy personnel. The senior military officer aboard is a Supply Corps captain who is in charge of the military department. Sirius's commanding officer is a civilian, currently Captain Richard Cicchetti (as of 2003). On most deployments, a 30-man military AIRDET (Aviation detatchment) is embarked to operate the CH-46 or MH-60 helos.
Unlike most Navy ships, life onboard Sirius is actually fairly good for most sailors - instead of a 72"x24" coffin rack in a room with 90 others, enlisted sailors get a stateroom shared with one other. Senior enlisted (E-7+) and officers (including warrants) get solo rooms which are roughly double the size of a standard enlisted stateroom.
The Sirius is currently slated to be decommissioned in 2007, though this is tentative.