SS Pacific Tracker – Proof old ships are worth something

The amazing transformation of the ex SS Mormacdraco/American Draco/Beaver State – follow the photos below to see how this ship has been transformed over the years and into the unique arrangement she possess today.




The Mormacdraco arriving in Rotterdam in 1969 ( Scott)
The SS American Draco moored in Santos, Brazil in 1983 (Gerhard Mueller-Debus)
The SS Beaver State underway in San Francisco Bay post 1997 (MARAD)
The Ex-Mormacdraco as she appears today, now the SS Pacific Tracker ( Gilston)

As some who live and work near the Cascade General Shipyard in Portland, Oregon may have noted, a peculiar ship has been taking shape along the waterfront.  A ship that appears to carry around a giant golf ball on its stern.  What many may not realize is that this is not a newly built, highly technical ship, designed to the latest standards equipped with a modern propulsion system.  Instead, it is an old workhorse that has been around for a few years, in fact, it is still powered by steam, and besides what you see on the outside, the interior of the house and machinery plant largely remain unchanged.

Originally laid down as a MARAD C6-S-60A type hull at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, MS in 1964, the SS Mormacdraco has seen some changes in her life.  Her most recent conversion has resulted in the creation one of the most peculiar looking ships in the U.S. Fleet (besides the USNS Observation Island) and now has her serving as an X-Band Transportable Radar Ship, designated XTR-1 to perform missions supporting the Missile Defense Agency.  She was converted at Cascade General Shipyards in Portland, OR and re-named SS Pacific Tracker on 1 April 2009.  As part of the conversion, the large heavy lift cranes were removed from the ship, and a large radar dome added aft of the house.  The ship also appears to have been fitted with several satellite tracking or communication dishes on the main deck.

Chronological History

  • Laid down, 13 April 1964, as the break-bulk ship, SS Mormacdraco, a Maritime Administration type (C6-S-60a) hull, under Maritime Administration contract (MA 144) at Ingalls Shipbuilding Inc., Pascagoula, MS.
  • Launched, 14 January 1965
  • Delivered to the Moore-McCormack Lines, 28 May 1965
  • Converted to a MARAD type hull (C6-S-MA60b) Crane Ship at National Steel and Shipbuilding Co., San Diego, CA.
  • Renamed SS American Draco, 13 September 1983
  • Transferred to the United States Lines, 1 November 1983
  • Reacquired by the Maritime Administration (MARAD) in April 1987
  • Assigned by the Maritime Administration to the Ready Reserve Force, (RRF), under operation control of the Military Sealift Command (MSC)
  • Placed in service as SS Beaver State (ACS-10), 4 May 1997
  • SS Beaver State (ACS-10) was berthed at Bremerton, WA. and assigned to Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron Three and was maintained in a five-day readiness status
  • Removed from MSC control, withdrawn from the RRF by reassignment to the National Defense Reserve Fleet, 28 July 2006
  • Converted for the Missile Defense Agency at Cascade General Shipyards, Portland, OR. to an X-Band Transportable Radar Ship, designated (XTR-1)
  • Renamed SS Pacific Tracker, 1 April 2009.

For more on her conversion, and a description of some of the requirements and challenges faced in converting the SS Beaver State into the SS Pacific Tracker, I suggest checking out the thesis by Michael Lash from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Here is a shot of the ship headed out of Portland to conduct sea trials on 16 Feb 2011.
Pacific Tracker by Genie Carrie

Here are some additional photos from her conversion in Portland and recent trip out for sea trials:

(Steven Fritz/
(Steven Fritz/
(Steven Fritz/
Pacific Tracker in Astoria, OR

17 Comment

  1. Captain H. Vandrploeg says: Reply

    I enjoyed the pictures, as have been following the MMDraco’s progress for years.  As a MMDraco Chief Mate in 1966, and her Mormac Port Captain from 1967 to 1983 at MML and USL, and then doing a trip on her when she was the Am Draco after I left USL, I felt very attached.  As a result, I see some incorrect information in the above article.  More omissions than anything. 
    1967 the Draco was mid-bodied to a C6-S-60b with a 115 ft section in #4 hatch at Todd S/Y Galveston Tx.  NOT NASSCO.

    She was renamed in Aug 1983 at my directions while in Howland Hook terminal NY. 
    NOT SEPT 1983

    She went to USL April 28, 1983 for operating after USL bought MorMac in Dec 1982. 
    NOT NOV 1983.

    1991 she went for conversion to a MARAD crane ship C6-S-MA 60d , TACS 10

    Sept 01 2008 to Cascade General for latest conversion.

  2. Captain H. Vandrploeg says: Reply

    I forgot, I also have one MORMACDRACO ship Nameboard.  I finally, after 28 years, refinished it and one MORMACLYNX nameboard last summer.

  3. Carlos Moscon says: Reply

    Fantastic to see after all those years this Ex-MormacDraco, which Ia was agent in Vitoria Brazil, discharging general cargo fm Usa and loading a lot of coffee and cocoa beans to America.
    Now she´s is more than beautifull, serving the country as tracking ships overseas…..

    Best Rgds
    Carlos Moscon // Marine Port Logistics Specialist// Vitoria, ES, Brazil

  4. […] Here is an interesting article about the history of the ship: SS Pacific Tracker – Proof old ships are worth something […]

  5. Misha says: Reply

    I saw the Pacific Tracker pass by Kelley Point this afternoon, and it certainly caught my interest. See the video above.
    Interesting history on the vessel.
    Thanks for the info!

  6. T. Herbst says: Reply

    How about an “Attaboy!” to U.S. engineers & tradesmen… Smooth sailing, mission success to the crewmembers.

  7. […] that are owned by the US Missle Defence Agency. They also have the x-band missle tracking radar. SS Pacific Tracker ? Proof old ships are worth something | The Maritime Every time there is a NK missle alert, one or the other will quietly slip out of port and disapear […]

  8. […] were DoD vessels Pacific Collector  (in its third life after launch in 1970) and Pacific Tracker (in its third life after launch in […]

  9. Kathleen,Chivi Persons says: Reply

    We watched her pass under the bridges past St. John’s Landing yesterday! 06/25/13. Took pictures

  10. judith Cooley says: Reply

    Wow! Saw her 6/26/13 as she passed Willow Grove Beach,WA. She looks fascinating. Took pictures, came home and looked her up.
    Great history info here.

  11. Great history. Pacific Tracker is docked at Aloha Tower in Honolulu – one large white sphere and 2 smaller ones caught my eye going to and from work!

  12. John Mc says: Reply

    Aloha, and welcome to Honolulu! 7/30/13

  13. David Osborne says: Reply

    She is in Honolulu harbor at this time.8-6-13. Aloha Tower docks.

  14. K. Hansen says: Reply

    The Pacific Tracker pulled into Honolulu harbor sometime this morning 9/17/18. It now sports two additional radomes midships, covering the two radar dishes shown in the photos above. Definitely a distinctive ship. At first glance I thought it was a US Navy vessel, but they probably got a good deal on the battleship grey paint.

  15. Thor says: Reply

    I spent plenty of time greasing those cranes while it was the Beaver State in Portland, OR. Wonder what all those holds forward of the house are carrying now?

  16. daShadow says: Reply

    As of today, Jan. 16, 2016, she is sitting in the harbor at Port Angeles, WA……..Was driving by and decided to look her up when I got home, interesting ship.

  17. HDragon says: Reply

    Just left the Vigor Shipyard this morning from Swan Island (Portland, OR)

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