Vandenberg Commissioned


THURSDAY, JULY 18, 1963 - - 10:30 A.M. (EDT)

The ocean-going Air Force vessel that we dedicate here today epitomizes the changes that modern technology has wrought not only in today's weaponry but also in the capabilities of the armed services themselves.

For while the USAFS GENERAL HOYT S. VANDENBERG conforms to none of the orthodox marine occupations, it contributes vitally to our military strength. It emphasizes anew that the Air Force is not confined to the air, nor the Army to the earth, nor the Navy to the sea.

The ingenuity of the scientist and the skill of the technician have been combined with the experience and training of the military to produce in this vessel a missile tracking station equal to those on the islands ranging southward and eastward from Cape Canaveral.

Moreover this ship and its sister ship, the USAFS GENERAL H H. ARNOLD, are unique in another way. They are mobile tracking stations that can range the oceans of the world.

In this ship we see the most peculiar silhouette that any vessel ever displayed. In part that is due to the forty-foot high dish antennas. They can literally collect millions of items of information about a missile in its final two or three minutes of flight between its reentry into our atmosphere and its impact.

We have balloons to study the atmosphere 250,000 feet up, and radios to transmit 10,000 miles back to Cape Canaveral. Inside this ship we have equipment and computers to gather, assemble, and transmit this information in split seconds for human consumption and action.

All this, in varying degrees, can also be found in our island tracking stations. But here the problem was far more complex. For here our people had to concentrate all the equipment within the confined space of a ship. They had to make that equipment work despite the vibrations common to all ships under power. They had to insure reliability of precision instruments even while the ship pitches and rolls in rough water. Compensation has been built into this ship even for the errors caused by the bending and twisting of the steel hull.

With this ship we have, for the first time a fully instrumented tracking station capable not only of monitoring but also of recovering nose cones out to the-full range of our ICBM missiles. This is truly a remarkable achievement of American ingenuity.

With ships of this class we can accumulate more information than ever before, and this reduces the number of missile tests required. They illustrate the progress of Air: Force technology, producing increased efficiency and economy. They advance the Air Force in its primary job of supporting national policy generally, and more specifically, in keeping space free for peaceful exploration by all and protecting the free world's interests in space.

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