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USNS Bartlett (T-AGOR 13).

USNS Bartlett (T-AGOR 13).
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Class: SANDS (AGOR 6)
Design: SCB Project Nos. 185A and 710.65
Displacement (tons): 1,088 light, 1,362 full (1,325 for AGOR 12-13)
Dimensions (feet): 209' oa, 196’ wl x 40' e, 39’ wl x 16 max nav, 15’ lim
Armament: none
Accommodations: 26 officers and unlicensed (28 for AGOR 12-13), 15 scientists
Speed (kts.): 13
Propulsion (HP): 1,330
Machinery: Diesel electric, 1 screw

6SANDS13 Dec 1961Marietta Mfg.23 Aug 196214 Sep 196313 Nov 1964
7LYNCH13 Dec 1961Marietta Mfg.7 Sep 196217 Mar 196427 Mar 1965
9THOMAS G THOMPSON15 Mar 1963Marinette Marine12 Sep 196318 Jul 19644 Sep 1965
10THOMAS WASHINGTON15 Mar 1963Marinette Marine12 Sep 19631 Aug 196417 Sep 1965
12DE STEIGUER12 Jul 1965NW Marine IW12 Nov 196521 Mar 196628 Feb 1969
13BARTLETT12 Jul 1965NW Marine IW18 Nov 196524 May 196615 Apr 1969

AGORNameTInactStrikeDisposalFateMA Sale
6SANDSTApr 197325 May 19901 Jul 1974Trf--
7LYNCHT24 Sep 19916 Nov 199123 Dec 1994MA/T4 Jun 2001
9THOMAS G THOMPSONca 200427 Feb 200414 Nov 2004Target--
10THOMAS WASHINGTON1 Aug 19921 Aug 199228 Sep 1992Trf--
12DE STEIGUERT2 Nov 19922 Nov 19922 Nov 1992Trf--
13BARTLETTT26 Jul 199330 Aug 199326 Jul 1993Trf--

Class Notes:
As of mid-1960 the tentative Navy Shipbuilding and Conversion Program for FY 1962 included two SCB Project 185 oceanographic research ships and two smaller AGORs of about 500 tons designated Project 213. (A 2,000 ton AGS, which eventually became AGS 26, was also under consideration within BUSHIPS.) Staff proposed characteristics for SCB Project 213 were circulated on 16 May 1960 for working level review, but on 1 July 1960 BUSHIPS informed the SCB staff that the OPNAV sponsors of the 500 ton AGOR had concluded that it did not offer sufficient ocenographic capability for its cost. Also on 16 May 1960, the Ship Characteristics Board concurred that SCB Project 185 as approved on 30 July 1959 was applicable to the two larger FY 1962 ships, subject to an upgrade in the stern lifting gear and deletion of the requirement to stow a portable van on the upper decks.

On 30 November 1960 while turning over cognizance of the SCB 214 (AGS 25) design to the BUSHIPS Hull Design Branch, the Preliminary Design Branch noted that, as in the Project 185 AGOR, its light ship metacentric height was very low. Although later studies found the stability of both designs to be sufficient, the Hull Design Branch on 8 August 1961 increased the beam by two feet. On 24 August 1961 it sent a memo to higher management requesting approval of this decision, noting that the SCB 185 design was extremely tight with regard to space and had a negligible stability margin for future growth as a result of increases in personnel (four men) and equipment. The memo noted that a two foot increase in beam (from 37' to 39') would appreciably relieve the space situation and would provide a margin for future development of 20 tons. The design work could be completed in time for FY 1962 procurement and funds were available. The change was approved the same day for ships not yet under construction, making it aplicable to AGOR 6-7 and AGS 25 but not to AGOR 3-5. The SCB was notified of the changed dimensions on 13 September 1961 with a recommendation that the characteristics be updated.

On 1 August 1962 Change 2 to SCB Project No. 185 formally directed a change in length for the ships from 204' to 209' and in beam from 37' to 39'. A week later, on 7 August 1962, approved characteristics for an Oceanographic Research Ship (AGOR), SCB Project No. 185A, were promulgated. These were stated to be applicable to the AGORs in the FY 1962 and 1963 programs, while the original SCB 185 characteristics remained applicable to the ships prior to FY 1962. The specifications for SCB 185A were essentially identical to those for SCB 185 with its changes 1 and 2, and AGOR 6-7 (SANDS and LYNCH) were thus effectively updated repeats of the AGOR 3 class while AGS 25 (KELLAR) was a surveying variant of the updated type. Externally AGOR 6-7 and AGS 25 had a conspicuous modification, also applied much later to AGOR 3-4, in which the front end of the upper part of the stack which had contained a switchboard room was cut back (the lower part containing the gas turbine engine was retained) and the now free-standing mast was given supporting tripod legs.

AGOR 6-7 were ordered on 13 December 1961 from the Marietta Manufacturing Co. of Point Pleasant, W. Va., which also won the contract for AGS 25 a month later. This yard, located on the Ohio River, had built over 800 small vessels since 1920, mostly barges but also a class of Army mine planters during World War II. SANDS was completed by Marietta at Point Pleasant, but LYNCH was towed to New Orleans on 4 Apr 1965 for completion and trials, with the Navy accepting custody of the ship there from Marietta on 23 July 1965. KELLAR experienced many problems during construction resulting in her being moved after launching to New Orleans for completion, where she was sunk during Hurricane Betsy on 9-10 September 1965. Unlike the unfortunate KELLAR, LYNCH successfully rode out Hurricane Betsy and was delivered to MSTS by the Commander of the Eighth Naval District on 22 October 1965. SANDS and LYNCH were both operated by MSTS in the Naval Oceanographic Office's Navy Lab East Coast Pool. By 1966 LYNCH was mother ship for the SPAR (Seagoing Platform for Acoustic Research), a long cylindrical floating device that in vertical operating position supported instrumentation 300 feet below the surface. SPAR was used in 1984 by the Lamont–Doherty Geological Observatory in a marginal ice zone experiment under a contract with the Office of Naval Research. LYNCH was still tending SPAR in 1990.

AGOR 9-10 were programmed as Project 185 (185A) ships in the FY 1963 building program. They were intended for operation by the University of Washington and the Scripps Institute rather than by MSTS. Like ROBERT D CONRAD (AGOR 3), they were part of the National Academic Research Fleet and the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) and were referred to as research vessels (R/V), not U.S. Naval Ships (USNS). During late 1962 the Office of Naval Research (ONR) asked these two West Coast institutions to review the contract plans of AGOR 4 to determine if the experiences gained in working at sea during the two years since those plans were drawn would necessitate any rearrangements of the scientific spaces. ONR also presumed that certain minor modifications would be desirable to make those new ships more suitable to the specialized research programs of their institutions. On 30 November 1962 ONR informed BUSHIPS that the requested changes looked entirely feasible and that the Ship Characteristics Board had approved the few that required minor modifications to the ships' characteristics. He asked BUSHIPS to ensure that the requested rearrangements were incorporated in the ships' plans before the contracts were awarded. ONR suggested more changes to the AGOR 4 design on 2 January 1963 and on 19 February 1963 BUSHIPS reviewed its action on the requests, which it then incorporated into the design for AGOR 9-10. External changes included the relocation of the after mast from forward of the stack to aft of the stack to permit the antenna to meet FCC requirements and the enlargement of the deckhouse to provide a single space for a lecture hall and a library. In addition, the crane in AGOR 3 had been found to be too big and bulky and was replaced in AGOR 9-10 (and also in the larger AGS 26) with a smaller jib-type crane capable of handling 3-ton loads. The bow propulsion unit was also modified to permit operation from one of the propulsion diesel generators if its gas turbine failed.

On 18 September 1962 the University of Washington requested that AGOR 9 be named for Professor Thomas Gordon Thompson, the founder of the university's oceanographic laboratories, who had died on 10 August 1961. The proposed name received considerable publicity beginning in October 1963 before the Navy acted on the request and of which the Navy was unaware, and on 15 February 1964 a SECNAV notice assigned the name SILAS BENT to AGOR 9. This prompted a strong letter of protest on 6 March 1964 from Senators Warren G. Magnusen and Henry M. Jackson of Washington State. On 12 March 1964 SECNAV apologized to the senators for the misunderstanding, cancelled the assignment of the name SILAS BENT to AGOR 9, reassigned it to AGS 26, and assigned the name THOMAS G THOMPSON to AGOR 9.

AGOR 12-13 were programmed for FY 1965 as repeats of the FY 1962 and 1963 ships. The approved characteristics of 7 August 1962 for the earlier ships were reissued with no changes on 24 February 1964 for the FY 1965 ships as SCB Project No. 710.65. However On 6 January 1964 OPNAV asked for comments on the present AGOR design, and on 13 April 1964 BUSHIPS recommended using the AGOR 9-10 design as the basis for the discussions of the new AGOR design. In early May 1964 the Navy initiated a project to redesign its small AGORs (SCB 185), but when it became clear that this would not be completed in time to apply to the two FY 1965 ships CNO on 21 August 1964 authorized a list of improvements to SCB 185A to be incorporated in the FY 1965 ships. These were promulgated on 31 August 1964 in Change 1 (a complete revision) to the 24 February 1964 characteristics. (There was a final change on 17 February 1965.) Among the many specified additions were a highly accurate all weather, all ocean, full time positioning capability; four underwater floodlights (3 to starboard, 1 to port), recessed in the after section of the hull; a bow thruster or active rudder to help control the heading of the ship while dead in the water (an active rudder was added to the single screw and bow thruster of the AGOR 3 type); auxiliary propulsion equipment to provide quiet operation while maintaining steerageway; an alternate ship control station on the 01 level starboard side aft; and a capability for deep sea anchoring by the bow. The deep sea winch on the stern was deleted and the specification for the earlier ships of "a device at the stern capable of supporting a 50,000 pound tow load" was changed to the more general "deck handling equiment on the stern adequate for scientific requirements." AGOR 12-13 also incorporated some of the modifications made in AGOR 9-10 including the relocation of the after mast. A second small surveying ship to follow KELLAR, S P LEE (AGS 31), was also built under the FY 1965 program to the SCB 214/709.65 design and was essentially a surveying variant of the AGOR 12 type. DE STEIGUER and BARTLETT were built by the Northwest Marine Iron Works of Portland, Oregon, and were operated by MSTS in NAVOCEANO's Navy Lab West Coast Pool.

On 5 June 1987, over two decades later, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) solicited bids from University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) institutions for operation of a new, more capable, class of research vessels. The initial vessel, to be designated AGOR-23, was to "replace at least one existing AGOR 3 class ship in the Navy portion of the UNOLS academic fleet" with a part of the requirement being "a practical plan for return to the Navy of at least one AGOR 3 Class ship now chartered from ONR." Operator representatives observed that only three such ships existed at three institutions (AGOR 3, 9, and 10), thus seemingly limiting bidding to those institutions. The University of Washington's bid resulted in the old THOMAS G THOMPSON (AGOR 9) being returned to the Navy in 1989 to be replaced by the new THOMAS G THOMPSON (AGOR-23) on 8 July 1991.

Ship Notes:
6SANDSFY 1962. Out of service in reserve April 1973. Loaned to Brazil 1974 as ALMIRANTE CAMARA. Sold to Brazil 5 Dec 1990 at end of lease. Decommissioned by Brazil 7 Aug 2003 at Rio de Janeiro and sold at auction in 2004.
7LYNCHFY 1962. Named and classified 10 Jan 1963. To MA custody in JRRF 21 Oct 1991. Departed JRRF for Brownsville Aug 2001. BU completed 29 Nov 2001.
9THOMAS G THOMPSONFY 1963. (ex-SILAS BENT 15 Feb 1964 or 12 Mar 1964). Transferred on loan on 21 Sep 1965 at NSY Boston to the University of Washington, Seattle, for ONR projects. The name THOMAS G THOMPSON was cancelled for T-AGOR 9 on 28 Apr 1989 so that it could be reassigned to the new T-AGOR 23 instead of the name EWING, which had been assigned to T-AGOR 23 on 6 Feb 1989 but was needed for a ship privately operated for the National Science Foundation. T-AGOR 9 was reclassified IX 517 11 Dec 1989 and renamed PACIFIC ESCORT II, available for hire from NSY Mare Is. That yard closed Oct 1996, ship renamed GOSPORT 7 May 1997 and available for hire from NSY Norfolk. Sunk 14 November 2004 as a target for a NATO exercise.
10THOMAS WASHINGTONFY 1963. Loaned to Scripps Institute of Oceanography 1966 for ONR projects. To Chile 1992 as VIDAL GORMAZ (commissioned at San Diego on 28 Sep 1992). Decomm. 30 Aug 2010, BU at Chinquique, Puerto Montt, in 2012.
12DE STEIGUERFY 1965. Accepted by Com 13 from builder 14 Feb 1969. To MSTS from Com 13 on 28 Feb 1969. To Tunisia 1992 under grant aid as SALAMMBO.
13BARTLETTFY 1965. Accepted by Com 13 from builder 31 Mar 1969. To MSTS from Com 13 on 15 Apr 1969. To Morocco 1993 as ABOU EL BARAKAT AL BARBARI.

Page Notes:
Compiled: 19 Oct 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Special sources: NARA: RG 19 Entry P 62 Box 72, RG 19 Entry P 26 Boxes 10, 13-14 (with SCB 213).