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USS Oceanographer (AGS-3) circa August 1942
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Class: OCEANOGRAPHER (AGS-3)
Displacement (tons): 1,252 light, 1,963 full
Dimensions (feet): 293.0' oa, 254.0' pp x 33.0' x 17.0' mn.
Original Armament: 2-3"/50 3-20mm
Later armaments: 2-3"/50 2-20mm (1943)
Complement: 146 (1944)
Speed (kts.): 14.7
Propulsion (HP): 4,554
Machinery: Vert 3-exp., 2 screws
||7 Apr 42
||T. S. Marvel
||12 Dec 98
||15 Aug 42
||22 Sep 44
||14 Oct 44
||18 Oct 44
No fiscal year assigned. The financier J. Pierpont Morgan ordered his second yacht named CORSAIR in 1898 a month after his first CORSAIR joined the Navy as USS GLOUCESTER. The new yacht was towed to Fletcher's yard at Hoboken, N.J. for fitting out after being launched at Newburg, N.Y. She was elegantly furnished and carried enough coal to cross the Atlantic. In 1917 Morgan's son turned CORSAIR over to the Navy, where she served under the designation SP-159 until her return to Morgan in 1919. On 2 Jan 30 Morgan presented the yacht as a gift to the Department of Commerce for use by the Coast and Geodetic Survey. He had previously renamed her OCEANOGRAPHER and stipulated that the vessel should never be disposed of by the Government until it was scrapped.
On 21 Feb 42 the Commerce Department agreed to transfer two Coast and Geodetic Survey ships, HYDROGRAPHER and OCEANOGRAPHER to the Navy, and on 28 Mar 42 Executive Order No. 9113 directed the transfer. In giving his instructions to the Bureau of Ships to accept delivery of the ships, VCNO stated that upon acquisition these vessels would be classed as Patrol Gunboats (PG). OCEANOGRAPHER arrived at the Norfolk Navy Yard on 7 Apr 42 and on 11 Apr 42 VCNO assigned the name NATCHEZ and the classification PG-85 to the ship. However on 25 May 42 CominCh recommended she be completed as a surveying vessel instead of a gunboat, and on 28 May 42 SecNav approved VCNO's recommendation to retain the name OCEANOGRAPHER, cancel the name NATCHEZ, and assign the classification AGS-3.
As the ship steamed to her first area of operations in Alaska, her age and incomplete conversion took their toll: the old Scotch fire-tube boilers were "patched up affairs," the decks and superstructure leaked and weaved when the ship rolled, and the living compartments were flooded whenever the ship took water. She also had a short steaming radius and could not maintain her fresh water supply. Nonetheless she had a very active and productive career after being overhauled and transferred to the Southwest Pacific in mid-1943. By June 1944 she was badly in need of repairs and was ordered to San Pedro, Calif., where on 12 Jul 44 an inspection board found that she was beyond economical repair and recommended that she be scrapped. On 18 Jul 44 CinCPac concurred with scrapping her without replacement. She was decommissioned in September at the U. S. Naval Drydocks, Terminal Island, San Pedro and was cut up there and the scrap sold in accordance with J. P. Morgan's wishes.
||Ex USS NATCHEZ (PG-85) 28 May 42, ex USC&GS OCEANOGRAPHER, ex yacht CORSAIR II (in Navy as SP-159 during WWI). Converted by Norfolk SB & DD Co., Norfolk, Va. Scrapped by Navy Oct 44.
Compiled: 29 Dec 2008
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2008