Tow of Ex Hector from San Diego on April 25, 1987

Cdr. Robert Ortmann USN Ret. (The last Repair Officer),
has kindly allowed us to copy this page from his Website 
so that it can be shared with more former Hector Sailors.

The entire Ortmann Family website may be visited 
by clicking on the link on our Related Sites page.

USS Hector (AR-7) was decommissioned on March 31, 1987. There were about 200 crew member still onboard at the time. We decided to do it on that date so we would have enough personnel to make a decent ceremony. After the decommissioning we went back to work preparing the ship for storage at Inactive Ship Facility in Pearl Harbor (also known as mothballs). On April 25, a suitably gray and dreary Saturday, all was ready. 

When the Hector was towed there were 65 people still attached to what was then known as DECOM DET HECTOR. Only about 25 people, mostly from deck force, were present on the weekend for the tow away.


Ex Hector being moved away from the quay wall at the south end of 32nd Street Naval Station San Diego where she was decommissioned and prepared for tow. Note the anchor chain and lines on the bow ready for the fleet tugboat to make up. The other side was rigged similar, forming a bridle.
The civilian crewed USNS Navajo was assigned the tow. Several Navajo crew members came aboard to check readiness. They checked the one gasoline powered fire pump intended for dewatering, a method of getting on the ship at sea, and of course the tow rig. They were professional, but looked for all the world like pirates. 

Navajo waited for the harbor tugs to bring the Hector out to her, then made the towing bridle up to her towing engine. In an hour they were heading for sea.

The Hector coming up on the USNS Navajo. The Coronado Bay bridge is in the background.
After taking the second picture above I released the message to the right. It was the last message from the Hector.


SUBJECT:  Inactivation of USS Hector Sitrep Number 4

1.  Ex Hector was towed out of San Diego at 1430 25 Apr by USNS Navajo.

2. The CHT tanks have been cleaned and the gas free certificate will be forwarded to NISMF Pearl Harbor.

3.  Most of the remaining 65 personnel will be transferred on 27 Apr.. The last transfer will be on 30 April.

4.  This is last report this subject

We tried hard to keep up Hector's tradition of excellence to the end. Our efforts were noted and appreciated by the master of the Navajo. He sent this message shortly after getting to sea. It was passed to me at my new command. FM  USNS Navajo


SUBJ: Tow Preps of Ex Hector

1. Orig has never had reason to congratulate any facility in tow preps. This is an exception. Cooperation, rigging and securing all excellent..


I didn't expect to see the Hector again after watching the sad procession sail away. I was wrong. About a year later Pakistan decided to accept an offer to lease the ship. I ended up spending two day at Pearl Harbor, first touring the ship in mothballs, then meeting for the rest of the time with Admiral Kahn and two other Pakistan Navy officer to plan the reactivation. These officers had experience with the British Navy and were professional and well versed in English. Their plan was tow it to SRF Subic for reactivation. That gave them access to a Navy Supply Center for parts support. After light off Hector would sail for Pakistan on her own power to once again be used as a repair ship. 

By: Cdr. Robert Ortmann USN Ret. (The last Repair Officer)