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USNS Rose Knot (T-AGM 14) on 28 July 1965.
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Class: SWORD KNOT (AGM 13)
Design: MC C1-M-AV1
Displacement (tons): 8,345 full
Dimensions (feet): 339' oa, 320' wl x 50' e/wl x 15'
Accommodations: 12 officers, 30 unlicensed
Speed (kts.): 10
Propulsion (HP): 1,700
Machinery: Diesel, 1 screw
|13||SWORD KNOT||1 Jul 1964||Consolidated Steel, Wilm.||1 Feb 1945||14 Mar 1945||COM/SRV|
|14||ROSE KNOT||1 Jul 1964||Pennsylvania SY||13 Oct 1944||6 Dec 1944||COM/SRV|
|15||COASTAL SENTRY||1 Jul 1964||Leathem D Smith SB||9 Oct 1944||21 Jan 1945||COM/SRV|
|16||COASTAL CRUSADER||1 Jul 1964||Leathem D Smith SB||12 Apr 1945||24 Jun 1945||COM/SRV|
|17||TIMBER HITCH||1 Jul 1964||Consolidated Steel, Long B.||26 Aug 1944||12 Oct 1944||COM/SRV|
|18||SAMPAN HITCH||1 Jul 1964||Walter Butler SB, Superior||16 Jan 1945||12 Jul 1945||COM/SRV|
|13||SWORD KNOT||T||1971||1 Apr 1971||DISP||MA||15 May 1973|
|14||ROSE KNOT||T||1968||9 Oct 1969||25 Oct 1968||MA||21 Jun 1977|
|15||COASTAL SENTRY||T||1968||9 Oct 1969||20 Jun 1968||MA/S||--|
|16||COASTAL CRUSADER||T||1971||30 Apr 1976||12 Apr 1977||MA/S||--|
|17||TIMBER HITCH||T||1968||9 Oct 1969||25 Oct 1968||MA||27 Jul 1977|
|18||SAMPAN HITCH||T||1968||9 Oct 1969||25 Jun 1968||MA||23 Apr 1973|
These six ships were among ten Air Force Atlantic Missile Range ships reassigned from the Air Force to MSTS by the Secretary of Defense on 16 November 1963 and directed on 1 May 1964 to be instated or reinstated in the Naval Vessel Register (NVR) as T-AGM 9 to T-AGM 18 effective the first day of the month following the date of their acceptance by the Navy. Five of them (including COASTAL CRUSADER, whose acquisition as USS WEXFORD, AK 220, had been cancelled on 27 August 1945) had not previously been on the NVR and were instated in the NVR on 1 July 1964. COASTAL SENTRY had briefly been in the NVR in 1945 (although apparently not commissioned) as USS SOMERSET (AK 212) and was reinstated in it on 1 July 1964 under her original mercantile name, COASTAL SENTRY.
Five of these small C1-M-AV1 type ships were acquired by the Air Force in February 1956 for use on its Eastern (Test) Range, and a sixth, SAMPAN HITCH, was acquired in 1958 and arrived on the range in March 1959. They were larger than the first Air Force ships on the range, six Army FS ships including one that became RANGE RECOVERER (see AGM 2), but they originally resembled the smaller ships in having an antenna on each bridge wing. SWORD KNOT commenced service on the Eastern Range in January 1958 and TIMBER HITCH, ROSE KNOT, and COASTAL SENTRY followed in March 1958. They were used primarily for telemetry reception, weather data, and vehicle recovery. They were sometimes known as Ocean Range Vessels (ORV) until Range Instrumentation Ship (RIS) became the standard terminology. In June 1958 COASTAL CRUSADER recovered a Thor missile data capsule and on 21 July 1959 COASTAL SENTRY recovered an Atlas nose cone, and on 6 September 1961 SWORD KNOT recovered a Titan I reentry vehicle. On 17 May 1960 ROSE KNOT and COASTAL SENTRY were modified to support the Mercury program. They then supported the early unmanned Apollo missions beginning in 1961 but their participation ended before Apollo 6 in 1968. Their Air Force commercial manning arrangements lasted until MARAD was directed as of January 1968, despite opposition from Congressional supporters of the merchant marine including L. Mendell Rivers, to man all range instrumentation ships with civil service personnel. AGM 14-15 and 17-18 were not to be affected as they were scheduled for deactivation, SWORD KNOT (AGM 13) would change crews in March 1968, and COASTAL CRUSADER (AGM 16) would change in April 1968.
On 16 November 1967 MSTS reported to CNO that the Air Force Missile Test Center in Florida had advised that it wanted to phase out several small range instrumentation ships. This reduction in capability would be offset by the placement in service of the APOLLO ships (T-AGM 19-21), while the ability of the Test Center to meet its obligations within funding limitations would also be improved. The process began with the release of TIMBER HITCH to the NDRF, which MARAD approved on 8 December 1967. SWORD KNOT was transferred to the Air Force Western Test Range at Vandenburg AFB, California on 20 Feb 1968 (she was declared excess to Navy requirements in April 1971). This was followed by the planned release to the NDRF of ROSE KNOT in February and SAMPAN HITCH in May 1968, which MARAD accepted on 23 February 1968. COASTAL SENTRY, then located in Australia, became surplus to requirements in April 1968. MSTS stated that with three ships of this type already in the NDRF no useful purpose would be served by returning COASTAL SENTRY to the US and that she should be offered for scrap sale in Australia. MARAD responded that it expected the Invitation for Bids to be issued around 21 May 1968 with an award four weeks later. Plans in late 1969 to convert COASTAL CRUSADER to a surveying ship (T-AGS 36) quickly fell through and she joined the NDRF in February 1970. [https://afspacemuseum.org/facilities/support-ships-on-the-eastern-range/]
|13||SWORD KNOT||2466||(Ex SWORD KNOT, compl. 30 May 1945) To USAF 14 Mar 1957 as SWORD KNOT, E-45-1852. Transferred to the Air Force Western Test Range 20 Feb 1968. To MA custody 7 Apr 1971 at Suisun Bay. To buyer 22 Jun 1973.|
|14||ROSE KNOT||2335||(Ex ROSE KNOT, compl. 5 May 1945) To USAF 1 Apr 1957 as ROSE KNOT, E-45-1850 (ORV 1850). Deactivated 2 Mar 1968. To MA custody 26 Mar 1968. To buyer 4 Aug 1977 for non-transportation use, sold for scrapping 1987.|
|15||COASTAL SENTRY||2166||(Ex COASTAL SENTRY, ex USS SOMERSET, AK 212, 1945, compl. 2 Nov 1945) Army COASTAL SENTRY 30 Aug 1946 to 12 Dec 1949. To USAF 29 Mar 1957 as COASTAL SENTRY, E-45-1849. Deactivated 12 May 1968. Sale awarded 20 Jun 1968, title to MA and delivered to buyer 11 Jul 1968 at Fremantle, Australia.|
|16||COASTAL CRUSADER||2174||(Ex COASTAL CRUSADER, ex USS WEXFORD, AK 220, 1945, compl. 31 Dec 1945) Army PVT JOE R HASTINGS 30 Aug 1946 to 12 Dec 1949. To USAF 13 Mar 1957 as COASTAL CRUSADER, E-45-1851 (ORV 1851). Deactivated 12 Sep 1969. On 2 September 1969 effective 1 December 1969 COASTAL CRUSADER (T-AGM 16) was reclassified to T-AGS 36. The conversion was soon cancelled, probably as part of September 1969 AGOR cutback program by the Oceanographer of the Navy (see AGS 31). On 19 Dec 1969 CNO informed MARAD that COASTAL CRUSADER was excess to Navy requirements and asked that MARAD retain her in the NDRF. To MA custody 9 Feb 1970 [permanent 1 Apr 1970 SLM, not VSC]. To buyer 2 May 1977.|
|17||TIMBER HITCH||2315||(Ex TIMBER HITCH, compl. 19 Jan 1945) To USAF (title) 2 Apr 1957 as TIMBER HITCH, E-45-1848. Transferred to the Pacific in November 1961 to support the Mercury program, was returned to the Eastern Range on 7 May 1965 and withdrawn, deactivated 10 Jan 1968. To MA custody 5 Feb 1968, permanent (title) transfer 25 Oct 1968. To buyer 21 Oct 1977.|
|18||SAMPAN HITCH||2133||(Ex SAMPAN HITCH, compl. 5 Nov 1945) To USAF 16 Oct 1958 as SAMPAN HITCH, E-45-1861. To MA (permanent) 25 Jun 1968. [2 MA dates, also 8 Oct 1969.] To buyer 24 May 1973.|
Compiled: 18 Oct 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Sources: DB, Maroon, NVR, VSC