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USNS Shearwater (T-AG 177).
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Class: SHEARWATER (T-AG 177, Army FS Design 381)
Design: Army FS Design 381 (176', steel)
Displacement (tons): 500 light, 935 full.
Dimensions (feet): 176.5' oa, 172' wl x 32.0' e x 10'
Speed (kts.): 11
Propulsion (HP): 1,000
Machinery: Geared diesel, 2 screws
|177||SHEARWATER||10 Apr 1964||Hickinbotham Bros., Stockton, Cal.||4 Apr 1943||Apr 1945||Mar 1964|
|177||SHEARWATER||1969||24 Jun 1967||24 Jun 1967||Trf||--|
The Army small supply ship FS 411 entered service in 1945 and worked the route between San Francisco and Honolulu, initially with five sister ships, until being laid up in 1947. After several more layups she went back to regular work when in early 1964 she was selected as a suitable ship to participate in a Pacific research project. On 26 March 1964 the Army approved the transfer of FS 411 to the Navy, and on 29 March 1964 MSTS accepted custody of the ship at the Beaver Army Terminal at Clatskanie, Oregon. On 10 April 1964 SECNAV assigned the classification AG 177 and name SHEARWATER (an oceanic migratory bird) to the former FS 411. SHEARWATER was placed in service and appeared on the Navy list on 1 May 1964. MSTS assumed responsibility for the operation of the ship in accordance with an agreement with the Commanding General of the Deseret Test Center, Fort Douglas, Utah as sponsor to provide a small ship in support of the Deseret Test Center's project in the remote Pacific Islands. According to the Washington Post of 12 May 1985 (see also Science Magazine, 21 February 1969) this project was probably two separate missions existing side by side: a Smithsonian study of bird migratory patterns and a classified Army effort to find "safe" sites for atmospheric testing of biological weapons in the Pacific. (Migratory birds were among the potential hazards because they could spread the toxins.) Some log sheets from the Smithsonian study have been posted on the website of the Smithsonian Institution Archives. SHEARWATER operated in the Pacific for 39 months on this assignment.
On 9 May 1967 MSTS informed CNO that the ship would not be required after 30 June 1967 in support of the Deseret project, and since the Army had requested that the ship be returned to it upon conclusion of the project MSTS requested that the ship be stricken from the NVR and that MSTS be authorized to transfer her back to the Army. The ship transited from the Pacific to the East Coast in June 1967 and was redelivered to the Army at its depot at North Charleston, S.C., effective 24 June 1967. The Army sold the ship, although exact dates and details are lost with other Army ship records.
SHEARWATER eventually ended up with Omega Protein, a Menhaden fishing concern that converted her to a purse seiner out of Reedville, Virginia. Omega also acquired RANGE RECOVERER (AGM 2) and gave her a similar conversion. SHEARWATER retained her name while RANGE RECOVERER became REEDVILLE. In 2013, Omega acquired two new purpose-built vessels to replace the World War II-era conversions and eventually donated SHEARWATER and REEDVILLE as artificial reefs. SHEARWATER was reefed on 11 December 2015 off southern Delaware at 38°31.661′N, 74°30.607′W. The reefing operation did not go as planned and she ended up on her side.
|177||SHEARWATER||T||(ex-FS 411, compl. Apr 1945). Returned to the Army 24 June 1967. Scuttled as artificial reef 11 Dec 2015.|
Compiled: 18 Oct 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021