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USNS James M Gilliss (AGOR 4) on 14 Dec 1962.
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class: ROBERT D CONRAD (AGOR 3)
Design: SCB Project No. 185
Displacement (tons): 1,200 light, 1,370 full (1,362 for AGOR 6-7)
Dimensions (feet): 209' oa, 196' wl x 40' e, 37' wl x 16' max nav, 15' lim
Armament: none
Accommodations: 9 officers, 17 unlicensed, 15 scientists
Speed (kts.): 13
Propulsion (HP): 1,200 (1,330 for AGOR 6-7)
Machinery: Diesel electric, 1 screw

Construction:
AGORNameOrd/AcqBuilderKeelLaunchComm/Svc
3ROBERT D CONRAD26 May 1960Gibbs, Jacksonville19 Jan 196126 May 196229 Nov 1962
4JAMES M GILLISS29 Nov 1960Christy31 May 196119 May 19625 Nov 1962
5CHARLES H DAVIS29 Nov 1960Christy15 Jun 196130 Jun 196225 Jan 1963
6SANDS13 Dec 1961Marietta Mfg.23 Aug 196214 Sep 196313 Nov 1964
7LYNCH13 Dec 1961Marietta Mfg.7 Sep 196217 Mar 196427 Mar 1965

Disposition:
AGORNameTDecomm/CustStrikeDisposalFateMA Sale/Depart
3ROBERT D CONRADT26 Jul 19894 Oct 19891 May 1999MA/TMASALE
4JAMES M GILLISST1970[None in NVR]15 Jun 1983Trf--
5CHARLES H DAVIST197016 Oct 199710 Aug 1970Trf--
6SANDSTApr 197325 May 19901 Jul 1974Trf--
7LYNCHT24 Sep 19916 nOV 199123 Dec 1994MA/T4 Jun 2001

Class Notes:
On 31 July 1957 the DCNO for Fleet Operations, Readines, and R&D wrote to VCNO that an oceanographic research ship to replace a ship then being operated by Woods Hole or the Scripps Institute had been tentatively carried in the FY 1959 Shipbuilding and Conversion Program for some time. It had been placed in the program as a result of a NOBSKA (Committee on Underwater Warfare, see also AG 154) recommendation. A rise in cost estimates for this ship led to a re-evaluation of keeping it in the program, and the writer concluded that, although the need for the ship was recognized, it would be better to try to have a private fund like the Rockefeller or Ford Foundation finance it. By 8 August 1957 it had been deleted from the program. Woods Hole with M. Rosenblatt and Son, Inc., as their design agent, subsequently completed a study in 1959 of a series of preliminary designs for research ships ranging from 400 to 3,000 tons and in 1963 took delivery of the 2,100 ton ATLANTIS II.

According to a memo on the SCB 226 design dated 28 August 1961 prepared in the Preliminary Design section of BUSHIPS for the Assistant SECNAV (R&D), in 1953 Rear Admiral Charles D. Wheelock, a former ship designer in BUSHIPS and later an associate director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, chaired a committee of the various entities interested in oceanographic ships and established the first coordinated statement of requirements for them. The committee recommended a maximum ship size of 1,000 tons in light of all compromises between functions, the need for low first cost, and subsequent operating costs. These deliberations formed the basis for the characteristics and design of the AGOR-3 class which came out at 1,400 tons. Approved characteristics for an Oceanographic Research Ship (AGS), SCB Project No. 185, were promulgated on 25 April 1958 and updated on 30 July 1959 with a final change on 1 August 1962. Two of these small, single-screw AGOR's were included in the Navy's FY 1960 program.

The large stack contained a small diesel exhaust funnel and a small 620 shp gas turbine engine that provided "quiet" power for speeds up to 6.5 knots during experiments in which the main propulsion diesel would be too noisy. A bow propeller pod could propel the ship at up to 4.5 knots in addition to providing precise maneuvering. T-AGOR 6-7 were essentially repeats of the AGOR 3 class (still SCB 185) in which the front end of the stack was cut down but the mast remained free-standing in its original position. KELLAR (AGS 25) was a variant of the AGOR 6 type.

In September 1969 three 208-ft oceanographic hulls, T-AGOR 4-5 and T-AGS 31, were selected by the Oceanographer of the Navy for deactivation and layup by MA as part of an AGOR cutback program. T-AGOR 5 was loaned to New Zealand on 10 August 1970 and T-AGOR 4 was transferred on 22 November 1970 to the University of Miami for further operation from Port Everglades, Fla.

Ship Notes:
AGORNameMANotes
3ROBERT D CONRADFY 1960. Operated by Lamont Geological Observatory, Columbia University. To MA custody 26 Jul 1989. BU completed 27 Apr 2004.
4JAMES M GILLISSFY 1960. Operated by MSTS for Navy Labs. Scheduled for layup 1969. Later operated by University of Miami. To MA custody 18 Mar 1980. From MA 14 Jun 1983 and to Mexico as ALTAIR. Sold to Mexico 4 Dec 1996.
5CHARLES H DAVISFY 1961. Operated by MSTS for Navy Labs. Scheduled for layup 1969. [Reported stk 1 Nov 1969 before transfer.] To New Zealand as TUI. Struck 1997 for BU overseas. Returned to the USN 27 Aug 1998, scuttled 20 Feb 1999 off Tutukaka, New Zealand as fish reef.
6SANDSFY 1962. [Cpl. as above in NVR or 8 Feb 1965.] Operated by MSTS for Navy Labs. Loaned to Brazil as ALMIRANTE CAMARA. Sold to Brazil 5 Dec 1990 [in NVR, or 21 Nov 1990]
7LYNCHFY 1962. Named and classified 10 Jan 1963. Towed to New Orleans 4 Apr 1965 for completion and trials, custody accepted there from Marietta 23 Jul 1965. To MSTS from Com 8 on 22 Oct 1965. Operated by MSTS for Navy Labs. To MA custody in JRRF 21 Oct 1991. Departed JRRF for Brownsville Aug 2001. BU completed 29 Nov 2001.

Page Notes:
Compiled: 19 Oct 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Sources: DB, Maroon, NVR