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USNS Bartlett (AGOR 13).
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class: THOMAS G THOMPSON (AGOR 9)
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 crew (28 for AGOR 12-13), 15 scientists
Speed (kts.): 13
Propulsion (HP): 1,330
Machinery: Diesel electric, 1 screw

Construction:
AGORNameOrdBuilderKeelLaunchSvc
9THOMAS G THOMPSON15 Mar 1963Marinette Marine12 Sep 196318 Jul 19644 Sep 1965
10THOMAS WASHINGTON15 Mar 1963Marinette Marine23[12 NVR] Sep 19631 Aug 196417 Sep 1965
12DE STEIGEUR12 Jul 1965NW Marine12 Nov 196521 Mar 196628 Feb 1969
13BARTLETT12 Jul 1965NW Marine18 Nov 196524 May 196615 Apr 1969

Disposition:
AGORNameTOOS/CustStrikeDisposalFateMA Sale
9THOMAS G THOMPSONTDECOM27 Feb 200414 Nov 2004Target--
10THOMAS WASHINGTONT1 Aug 19921 Aug 199228 Sep 1992Trf--
12DE STEIGEURT2 Nov 19922 Nov 19922 Nov 1992Trf--
13BARTLETTT26 Jul 199330 Aug 199326 Jul 1993Trf--

Class Notes:
AGOR 9-10 incorporated lessons learned from the first ships of the type (AGOR 4 and sisters). Approved characteristics for an Oceanographic Research Ship (AGOR), SCB Project No. 185A, were promulgated on 7 Aug 1962. During late 1962 the Chief of Naval Research asked Scripps and the University of Washington, who were scheduled to operate AGOR 9-10, 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. It was also presumed that certain minor modifications would be desirable to make those new ships more suitable to the specialized research programs of those two West Coast institutions. On 30 November 1962 the chief of 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. Two of the requested changes were to enlarge the deckhouse to provide a single space for a lecture hall and a library and to relocate the after mast from the present position forward of the stack to a position aft of the stack to permit the antenna to meet FCC requirements. ONR suggested more changes to the AGOR 4 design on 2 Jan 1963 and on 19 Feb 1963 BUSHIPS reviewed its action on the requests, which were incorporated into the design for AGOR 9-10.

On 6 Jan 1964 OPNAV asked for comments on the present AGOR design. The approved characteristics for an Oceanographic Research Ship (AGOR), SCB Project No. 185A, were updated as SCB Project No. 710.65 on 24 February 1964 with a final change on 17 February 1965. On 13 Apr 1964 BUSHIPS recommended using the AGOR 9-10 design as the basis for the discussions of the AGOR design, which presumably resulted in AGOR 12-13. All four ships were essentially repeats of AGOR 6-7 in which the mast was moved aft of the stack. S P LEE (AGS 31) was a variant of this class.

On 12 October 1962 the Chief of Naval Research informed CNO that AGOR 9 was scheduled to go out for bidding during the first part of 1963. The ship was to be leased to the University of Washington for use in oceanographic research. The founder of the oceanographic labratories at this university was Professor Thomas Gordon Thompson, who had recently died on 10 August 1961. On 18 September 1962 the university asked that the ship be named for him. However on 15 February 1964 a SECNAV notice assigned the name SILAS BENT to AGOR 9. This prompted a strong letter of protest from Senators Warren G. Magnusen and Henry M. Jackson of Washington State dated 6 March. SECNAV Paul Nitze received the senators' letter on 10 March and on 12 March RADM Ernest M. Eller, OP-09BH (the predecessor of today's Naval History and Heritage Command) prepared a draft response that was then preserved in the relevant OP-09BH ship name folder. This draft, which may or may not have been sent in this form, gives several poignant insights into how ship naming policies of half a century ago differed from those of today. The writer explains that after reading the senators' letter SECNAV Nitze had asked him to inform the senators that the Navy had decided to reassign the name SILAS BENT and that AGOR 9 would be assigned the name THOMAS G THOMPSON. "This decisions is not based upon the relative merits of the two men, for Bent followed his conscience as did Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Maury; these names are borne by ships now active in the defense of our united America." It was made because, unknown to the Navy, it had been widely publicised since the previous October that the ship would be named after Professor Thompson. "For those types of ships that bear the names of men, we have found it desirable, unless strong reasons dictate otherwise, to select an 18th or 19th century man in preference to one of the 20th century, especially one recently deceased. This was the controlling reason in selecting Bent and not naval versus army service as someone misinformed you. We admire and honor the achievements of our sister service in the defense of our country." By a separate notice dated 12 March 1964 SECNAV 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.

Ship Notes:
AGORNameMANotes
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 for AGOR 9 was cancelled on 28 Apr 1989 so that it could be assigned to the new AGOR 23 instead of the name EWING, which had been assigned to her on 6 Feb 1989 but was needed for a ship privately operated for the National Science Foundation. To IX 517 11 Dec 1989 and named PACIFIC ESCORT. Renamed GOSPORT 7 May 1997.[Strike and fate from Navsource, with pix.] A new THOMAS G THOMPSON (AGOR 23) was named on 28 Apr 1989.
10THOMAS WASHINGTONFY 1963. Loaned to Scripps Institute of Oceanography 1966 for ONR projects. To Chile as VIDAL GORMAZ.
12DE STEIGEURFY 1965. Accepted by Com 13 from builder 14 Feb 1969. To MSTS from Com 13 on 28 Feb 1969. Operated by MSTS for Navy Labs. To Tunisia under grant aid as N O SALAMMBO.
13BARTLETTFY 1965. Accepted by Com 13 from builder 31 Mar 1969. To MSTS from Com 13 on 15 Apr 1969. Operated by MSTS for Navy Labs. To Morocco as ABOU EL BARAKAT AL BARBARI.

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