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What Kind of Navy Ship Visited San Francisco Bay Recently?

Latitude 38 contributing editor Ross Tibbits recently took this photo of a Navy ship secretly slipping into the Bay. US Navy facilities on the Bay have been dramatically reduced over the past 30+ years, so we don’t see the naval traffic we used to see. Do any ex-Navy personnel or Navy buffs want to give our readers the lowdown on this type of ship and why it might be visiting San Francisco?

Navy Ship
This cruised into the Bay recently.
© 2020 Ross Tibbits

And you thought your ship’s radar was pretty cool.


  1. Mark C Anderson 4 years ago


  2. John deCastro 4 years ago

    SS Pacific Tracker is her name. The conversion of a 50-year-old cargo ship to one of the most advanced radar telemetry ships in the world is an interesting action to say the least. Before she was re-christened into her new role in 2009, Pacific Tracker had multiple prior careers, and many names to go along with them. These include Mormacdraco, American Draco and the USNS Beaver State. Now this steam driven relic boasts a massive state-of-the-art X band radar on her stern along with a state-of-the-art communications and data-link system.
    This new radar comes with a new name, XTR-1 for X band Transportable Radar One. The capabilities of this new array are less than clear, but they are unique and powerful enough to have have a whole ship refitted around them. The ship also packs a pair of additional tracking arrays mounted amidships but they pale in comparison to the the size of the XTR-1.
    This long and lean floating antique has already taken part in multiple tests and if improvements made to her radar arrays and antenna are any indication, she seems to be rapidly adding capability early in her new life. Still, the ship’s exact role is unknown, and there has even been speculation of a possible use by a foreign power. What is more likely is that she is just another floating radar outpost that can be used for monitoring ballistic missile launches and missile tests.
    Page down here and you will find a bunch of pictures of the SS Pacific Tracker.

    • Dick Robinson 4 years ago

      Fascinating! Thank you for this background info!

  3. badornato 4 years ago

    It’s a Golfstream

    • Tom V. from sv SPIRIT, Golfstar 50 4 years ago

      Ha! Nice one!

  4. Jim Leonard 4 years ago

    Details here:

    Originally built in 1965 for the long-defunct Moore McCormack Line. Then with US Lines… till acquired by the USN.

  5. Andrea 4 years ago

    The ‘Pacific Collector’ stopped for a visit as well shortly before the Pacific Tracker came in.

  6. Jeff Martin 4 years ago

    In addition to state of the art X-band capabilities she can re-heat frozen burritos in 0.2 seconds.

    • Brad 4 years ago


  7. Mark S Blackburn 4 years ago

    The Navy has BALLS bringing a ship like that into the Bay!

    • Philip A Reynolds 4 years ago

      Mark S Blackburn as I have to keep it Friendly might I suggest you ESAD? The Military is the only thing keeping your ass alive. It is a very scary world we live in.

    • Eric S 4 years ago

      @Philip A Reynolds: I think perhaps Mark was making a mild joke about the spherical, ball-like shape of the appurtenances sprouting from the ship. Chill, Philip, Chill! No need to make the world any scarier!

  8. Pat Broderick 4 years ago

    Captain Nemo’s “Jules Vern” with her 3 hot air observation-radar balloons ready for launch?

  9. Jeff 4 years ago

    I’m guessing their tv channel lineup is incredible.

  10. Glen Melnik 4 years ago

    From the mothball fleet?

  11. Tim Sullivan 4 years ago

    We caught her from the water and wondered the same! Here is a photo

  12. Jon H 4 years ago

    I’d say the Navy did a very poor job of secretly slipping into the Bay. Can that even be done without fog?

  13. Bean 4 years ago

    M/V Pacific Collector was in the Bay at the same time. From Baker Beach on Saturday I saw both of them leave the Golden Gate one after the other.

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