Pacific Tracker

Posted: 22 September, 2011 by SeaBart in special, ugly
Tags: , , ,

Pacific Tracker

IMO : 6507921

Build : 1965 by Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp – Pascagoula, Mississippi in the USA, no 487 as Mormacdraco

I can actually hear you thinking now: has SeaBart lost his mind in the few months before while he wasn’t posting, that ship does not look ugly at all, she is a classic. And my answer is: no & yes…I haven’t lost my mind & indeed she has a nice classic look. But bear with me: I’m a professional, I know what I’m doing!

The above picture is how she looked in the early stages of her life. Then in 1976 the rigmarole started: she was lengthened by 115 foot (approx. 35m) and a set of dual cranes were added to this new section.

Picture courtesy of Robert Castano, via

And the (as we see them now) classical lines were abruptly broken by a modernish pair of cranes & cargosection.  And she immediately lost a lot of good looks.

In the later stages of her Merchant Navy career she was converted to carry containers……these boxy things didn’t add anything to her looks either.

Picture by Gerhard Mueller-Debus via

And then in 1987 the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) got her hands on her and they went berserk, calling her the SS Beaver State (ACS-10) she was converted but only a little bit.

Picture from MARAD via

Picture from MARAD via

Oh dear……that conversion made her looks go south again. Who thought fitting those big cranes on a classic liner was a good idea?

She was then added to the US Reserve Fleet and placed under control of the Military Sealift Command (MSC), berthed in a dark obscure port and was maintained in a five-day readiness status. Doesn’t bode well, does it?

But then in 2009 a boffin somewhere thought of a purpose for her in her old days: she became the SS Pacific Tracker (XTR-1) and was converted to an X-Band Transportable Radar Ship to perform missions supporting the US Missile Defense Agency. And this is how she looks now (at least those awfully big cranes have taken a hike) :

But what’s up with that giant golf ball on her aft deck?

Picture by Wahkiakum Eagle, via Flickr

Picture by Steven Fritz, via

Yup…..looks gone bad beyond any chance for redemption. On the other hand: she is still afloat & working after 41 years but I wonder: is that what you want. I think it’s the same as giving a 80-year old women breast implants and have her dance the Lambada all day long. Not a good way to grow old.

And I hope you now see that I haven’t lost my mind (completely)

Thanks to for the inspiration & a lot of the info.

Update (22-09-2011)

Al Gilles from Portland, Oregon was so kind to send me the below picture which he took of the Pacific Tracker on 17-08-2011 while she was being moored at her berth. This picture shows some of the ugliness that was apparent in the above posted pics. It’s a good picture  but it makes the Pacific Tracker look even worse!

Picture by Al Gilles, via email

Al: thanks for sharing the picture!


  1. ALBERTO says:

    Maybe i’m little too romantic but i really love how this sort of ship change during years.
    And maybe i’ve lost my mind but i find it quite interesting in this grey colour.
    Only this f***ing giant golf make me very sad…

  2. Al Gillis says:

    After a visit of a few months I watched the Pacific Tracker leaving Portland, Oregon on August 4, 2011. She entered the Columbia River on her way to the Pacific Ocean about 11:00 PDT. I was just a little late at Kelly Point Park to get a good photo of her passing out of the Willamette River. A similar ship (but not so classy looking), the Pacific Collector, is still in the Portland ship repair yard.

  3. Mary Narey says:

    I was at Sauvie Island today and took a picture of this ship. It was quite eye-catching with the “golf ball” on the back as it moved swiftly up the Columbia River to Portland. Thanks for making the brief history available on the net.

  4. Tobin says:

    Quite a few of us watched her sail past Woodland probably just a bit before Ms. Narey saw her today. Many steelhead were landed as she passed!

  5. Al Gillis says:

    Ken and I watched the Pacific Tracker tie up at berth 301 in the Swan Island lagoon about 2:15PM on Wednesday, August 17, 2011. I got several photos of her passing under the St. John’s Bridge, the railroad bridge and finally entering the lagoon. A similar ship, the Pacific Collector, is also tied up at Swan Island.

  6. Ms Sherry Beck says:

    I believe my dad, Robert Butler, was possibly the last Chief Engineer while the ship was the Mormacdraco.
    He was there when the ship was lengthened in Gothenberg and then refitted in Galveston.
    He would have loved the giant golf ball on the aft deck (not)

  7. Mike Allen says:

    I bet she is much happier going to sea with a fire in her belly than rusting in the ghost fleet. (Even if all she is hauling a giant golf ball.)

  8. Al Gillis says:

    Does anyone know the whereabouts of Pacific Tracker today (November 17, 2011)? She left her berth at Swan Island in Portland, Oregon in Mid October and hasn’t appeared on the inventory of ships tied up at the Port of Portland. I’m wondering if she’s moved her home port to another place or is just out on a long mission?

    Thanks for your help!

  9. Tom House says:

    I believe she is docked in Portland on the Willamette River next to the University of Portland. I saw her there last weekend. The ship now has two smaller domes in the middle of the ship. I took a couple of pictures with my cell phone. You can see her pictured in the Google Maps satellite view if you put “University of Portland” in the search line.

  10. stevef says:

    She was in Hunolulu 29 September (2012) tied up next to the Pride of America cruise ship.

  11. debbie moyer says:

    dmoyer says:
    25 January 2013

    The Tracker may look strange but not only is she supporting about 30 men,women and their families but also doing amazing work for our country.

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