USS San Diego (AFS 6) (1969 - 1993)
The third ship to be so named San Diego, a Mars-class combat stores ship, was laid down on 11 March 1967 by the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company at San Diego, California; launched on 13 April 1968; sponsored by Mrs. Frank Curran; and commissioned on 24 May 1969, Capt. John W. Wells in command.
After shakedown and refresher training in late 1969, San Diego began a seven-month, deployment to the Mediterranean in support of the U.S. 6th Fleet. She returned to her home port, Norfolk, Virginia, and remained on the U.S. East Coast until February of 1971 when she was selected to represent the U.S. Atlantic Fleet at the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans, Louisiana.
In April, she deployed again to the 6th Fleet and stayed in the Mediterranean until October. During this tour of duty, she earned the Supply Efficiency "E," rescued sailors from a burning Greek freighter, and represented the 6th Fleet at Admiral Farragut Day at Minorca, Balearic Islands.
On 27 July 1972, following more than nine months back in the United States operating and training along the Atlantic seaboard, San Diego got underway to return to the 6th Fleet. She arrived at Rota, Spain, on 4 August and relieved Sylvania (AFS-2) as the on-station combat store ship with the 6th Fleet. At the end of another six months of service in the Mediterranean, San Diego got underway to return to Norfolk, Virginia, in January 1973. She arrived on the 26th and resumed normal operations with the Atlantic Fleet.
San Diego operated out of Norfolk, along the eastern seaboard, and in the Caribbean until late October 1973. At that time, she departed Norfolk for her fourth tour of duty in the Mediterranean. She arrived at Rota, Spain, on 4 November. The combat store ship cruised the “middle sea” with the 6th Fleet for the next six months, getting underway from Rota on 19 April 1974 to return to Norfolk. San Diego reached Norfolk on the 27th and, as of 30 June 1974, was still in port there.
Between June 1974 and June 1976 San Diego made 2 more deployments to the 6th Fleet and an additional excursion to Guantanamo Bay for "refresher training". Sailors considered deployed duty on AF/AFS ships to be excellent as port visits were made regularly to resupply, giving sailors an opportunity to visit more places and smaller ports than the warship fleet. Supply ships usually steamed independently and were freed from some of the military bearing that was required when in formation with US warships and under the eyes of a Commodore or Admiral. Captain Fellowes and Captain Burns were naval aviators getting their ticket punched for Deep Draft Command and a better opportunity for selection as Rear Admiral.
During the 3 Med cruises from 1973 - 1976, USS San Diego stopped in ports from Lisbon, Portugal to the Greek Island of Corfu, just off the coast of Albania. The eastern most port was Athens, the only north African port was Tunis, Tunisia. Palma de Mallorca and Naples, Italy were the most frequented ports during those years.
On 11 August 1993 San Diego was decommissioned and placed in service as USNS San Diego (T-AFS-6). She remained in service as a USNS until 10 December 1997 when she was laid up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was struck from the Navy List on 10 December 1997 and she was sold for scrap at Philadelphia on 9 April 2006.