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R/V Gyre (AGOR 21).

R/V Gyre (ex AGOR 21) after 1992.
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Class: GYRE (AGOR 21)
Design: SCB Project No. 734.71 (AGOR, Utility)
Displacement (tons): 900 light, 950 full
Dimensions (feet): 182' oa x 36' x 13.5' max. (AGOR 22 lengthened to 212' in 1984.)
Armament: none
Accommodations: 5 officers, 5 unlicensed, 23 scientists
Speed (kts.): 10 cruising
Propulsion (HP): 1,700
Machinery: 2 geared diesels, 2 screws

21GYRE23 Jun 1972Halter Marine9 Oct 197225 May 197314 Nov 1973
22MOANA WAVE23 Jun 1972Halter Marine10 Oct 197223 Jun 197316 Jan 1974

AGORNameTInactStrikeDisposalFateMA Sale
21GYREca 199217 Aug 199217 Aug 1992Trf--
22MOANA WAVEca 199930 May 19992 Nov 1999Trf--

Class Notes:
Approved characteristics for an Oceanographic Research Ship (AGOR, Utility), SCB Project No. 734.71, were promulgated on 20 April 1970 with a single change on 12 July 1974. Intended for operation by laboratories using civilian or commercially hired crews and with no military features, the class was designed to reduce cost of both acquisition and life cycle costs by adopting commercial standards and practices in design. They were basically the same type being used on the Gulf coast to service offshore oil rigs. The two FY 1971 ships were earmarked for use by Texas A&M University and the University of Hawaii, where they would replace respectively a converted World War II 180-foot Army island freighter (R/V ALAMINOS) and a converted 90-foot yacht (R/V TERITU) that were no longer capable of using the latest in marine technology equipment.

The purpose of these small and affordable ships was to do relatively basic research in underwater sound propagation and oceanography in support of the Navy's efforts to develop new concepts in ASW. The Navy explained to Congress in April 1970 that its ambition for this new type of AGOR was to procure a total of 12 ships, eight to support Navy projects at universities like Texas A&M and Hawaii and four to support oceanographic projects at naval laboratories and for training and localized studies in support of naval officers pursuing graduate studies in oceanography at the Naval Postgraduate School. The Navy requested the first four ships for FY 1971 but DoD cut this request to two. The Navy then hoped to get the other two in FY 1972 but they were not in the final program. No more were built, leaving the Navy despite its ambitions with only two vessels of the new type.

On 6 December 1972 SECNAV assigned the classifications AGOR 21 and AGOR 22 and names GYRE and MOANA WAVE to these two Oceanographic Research Ships (Utility Class). His notice stated that they were named for oceanographic features, and that GYRE was to be employed by Texas A&M University in oceanographic research while MOANA WAVE ("Ocean Wave") was to perform identical service for the University of Hawaii. They were built by Todd Seattle Halter Marine, Moss Point, Miss. As parts of the national academic research fleet, both were commonly referred to as research vessels (R/V), not U.S. Naval Ships (USNS). Both passed into private ownership during the 1990s.

MOANA WAVE was chartered to the Naval Electronics System Command 1977-1982 for tests of SURTASS and operated out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Little Creek, Va. She was then lengthened in 1984 by the insertion of a 9-meter section amidships for continued service with the University of Hawaii. Her superstructure was reconfigured and her original two funnels abreast were replaced with a single funnel on the centerline[. In 2002 her place at the University of Hawaii was taken by KILO MOANA (AGOR-26), a SWATH (Small Waterplane Area, Twin Hull) catamaran research vessel.

Ship Notes:
21GYREFY 1971. Loaned to Texas A&M University (TAMU) and operated by its Department of Oceanography. Title transferred to TAMU 1992. Retired by them 31 Aug 2005, sold in November 2005 to TDI-Brooks International, Inc., College Station, Texas. Flagged in Vanuatu, Port Vila, GYRE was advertised for work out of Mexico, Northern South America and West Africa.
22MOANA WAVEFY 1971. Loaned to Univ. of Hawaii 1974-1999 and operated by its Marine Expeditionary Center at Honolulu. MOANA WAVE was purchased in December 1999 by Ahtna Inc., an Alaska Native Corporation, and was renovated for use in underwater mapping and the fiber optic cable industry. In 2010 the Foundation for Research Support of the State of São Paulo, Brazil, funded the acquisition of MOANA WAVE by the University of São Paulo after a fire in 2008 rendered her inoperable for her previous use as a research ship, and the ship, renamed ALPHA CRUCIS for the star that represents São Paulo on the Brazilian flag, departed the shipyard in Seattle where she had been reconditioned on 29 March 2012 for Brazil.

Page Notes:
Compiled: 20 Oct 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021