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USNS Silas Bent (T-AGS 26) on 7 July 1965.

USNS Silas Bent (T-AGS 26) on 7 July 1965.
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Class: SILAS BENT (T-AGS 26)
Design: SCB Project Nos. 226 and 728.67 (medium type)
Displacement (tons): 1,935 light, 2,420 to 2,580 full
Dimensions (feet): 285' oa (287' in AGS 33-34), 265' wl x 48' e/wl x 15'to 16' max nav, 17’ lim
Armament: none
Accommodations: 44 crew, 34 scientists
Speed (kts.): 12
Propulsion (HP): 3,440 (AGS 26), 3,600 (others)
Machinery: Diesel electric, 1 screw

26SILAS BENT23 May 1963Am. SB, Lorain2 Mar 196416 May 196423 Jul 1965
27KANE5 Feb 1964Christy19 Dec 196420 Nov 196519 May 1967
33WILKES27 Sep 1967Defoe, Bay City18 Jul 196831 Jul 196928 Jun 1971
34WYMAN27 Sep 1967Defoe, Bay City18 Jul 196830 Oct 19693 Nov 1971

AGSNameTInact (OOS)StrikeDisposalFateMA Sale/Depart
26SILAS BENTT28 Oct 199928 Oct 199928 Oct 1999Trf--
27KANET31 Mar 200114 Mar 200114 Mar 2001Trf--
33WILKEST8 Sep 19951995?29 Sep 1995Trf--
34WYMANT10 Mar 19973 May 199928 Jul 2001MA/T28 Jan 2014

Class Notes:
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) began by reviewing the development of the AGOR 3 design. The memo stated that it appeared to the Bureau, and the Bureau thought to the oceanographic community as a whole, that this design was an excellent solution to the oceanographer's problem. The Bureau was thus somewhat surprised that a demand for a new design of any kind appeared quitely in the FY 1962 program. Acknowledging that science moves constantly towards new horizons, the Bureau participated in the development of characteristics for the new design, SCB 226, under circumstances in which both oceanographic and hydrographic interests were given full opportunity to state their specific demands, of which all the significant ones were granted. The Bureau worked in close liaison with the Hydrographic Office to make certain that the design included adequate laboratory space, resulting in a 90% increase in laboratory areas over AGOR 3 largely in anticipation of future growth. (The increase could not have been justified by the instrumentation and hardware then available for oceanographic service.) The design also incorporated increases in scientific accommodations, habitability, speed, weight reservations, and winch requirements, and added new scientific facilities. Following the inclusion of larger growth margins than would be used in a normal design the Bureau ended up recommending a 2,250-ton ship compared to the 1,400-ton AGOR 3.

The initial approved characteristics for a Surveying Ship (AGS), SCB Project No. 226, were promulgated on 11 July 1961. The firm of M. Rosenblatt & Son, Inc. was made design agent for SCB 226, with final contract plans and specifications due on 14 September 1962. A brochure dated 15 August 1962 describing the preliminary design of SCB 226 stated that it was the second special type oceanographic research ship intended for US Navy use and added that it would be a larger ship than the first, SCB Project 185, and would be capable of carrying out both hydrographic surveys and oceanographic research studies. The characteristics for Project 226 were updated for FY 1964 on 12 April 1963, and were then updated for a Medium Surveying Ship (T-AGS), SCB Project No. 728.67, on 29 November 1966 with a final change on 10 September 1970. This FY 1967 update, promulgated as OPNAVINST 9010.271, stated that it was applicable to the mapping and charting-oriented medium surveying ship in the FY 1967 Shipbuilding and Conversion Program. Approved characteristics for a Medium Surveying Ship (T-AGS), SCB Project No. 725.67, were also promulgated on 29 November 1966 with a final change on 9 November 1970. This document, promulgated as OPNAVINST 9010.270, was stated to be applicable to the oceanographic-oriented medium surveying ship in the FY 1967 Program. The publicly-released brochure for the final version of the FY 1967 program, dated June 1967, showed two AGS's of SCB Project No. 728.67 and described them as the same type as the medium surveying ships authorized and funded in FY 1964 and the third and fourth ships of that class. Project 725.67 was either not proceeded with or was more likely merged into Project 728.67.

On 15 February 1964 SECNAV assigned the name SILAS BENT to AGOR 9 (q.v.). On 12 March 1964 he cancelled this assignment and reassigned the name SILAS BENT to AGS 26. On 16 July 1968 SECNAV assigned the name WILKES to AGS-33, having cancelled it for the obsolete DD 441. The first three ships were assigned to support the ASW oceanographic survey program with two ships in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific. In addition to geophysical data these ships collected acoustic and water mass data and performed special sea-floor studies. SILAS BENT originally had a prototype "Shipboard Survey System" based on a standard Navy AN/UYK computer while KANE initially had the Hydrographic Data Acquisition System (HYDAS), which collected and processed digital data depicting the configuration of the ocean floor as well as the earth's crust below it. In 1971 SILAS BENT, KANE and WILKES received the Oceanographic Data Acquisition System (ODAS), which was essentially a HYDAS system that was doubled in size to also collect and process digital temperature and salinity measurements. WYMAN was first equipped with HYDAS but after being designated to replace USNS SGT GEORGE D KEATHLEY (T-AGS-35) for gravity, magnetic and bathymetric surveys was re-equipped with a new processing system, replacing HYDAS, called the Bathymetric Survey System (BASS) and a new narrow beam swath array, replacing a single beam system, called the Bottom Topography Survey Subsystem (BOTOSS). These allowed her to perform similar data mapping functions to those performed by USNS H H HESS (T-AGS 38) along with the earlier BOWDITCH and DUTTON (T-AGS 21-22) to support the Trident Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine force. Her initial BOTOSS hull mounting was subject to air bubble interference and in November 1974 she went to a a West Coast yard to receive a new arrangement on a fairing and foil mounted on the keel, after which she returned to the Atlantic in August 1975 for operations.

Ship Notes:
26SILAS BENTFY 1963. Delivered at NSY Boston Jul 1965. To MSTS 24 Sep 1965. To Turkey as ÇEŞME 28 Oct 1999.
27KANEFY 1964. Delivered at NSY Boston 19 May 1967. To MSTS 13 Jun 1967. To Turkey as ÇANDARLI 14 Mar 2001.
33WILKESFY 1967. To MSC from Com 1 16 Jul 1971. To Tunisia as KHEIREDDINE 29 Sep 1995.
34WYMANFY 1967. Keel date also reported as 12 Aug 1968. Accepted by MSC at NSY Boston 19 Nov 1971. To MA custody 26 Mar 2001. Departed SBRF 4 Mar 2014. BU complete 1 Oct 2014.

Page Notes:
Compiled: 19 Oct 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Sources: NARA RG19 Item S-13 Entry 1022-V(UD); Office of Science and Technology, The Federal Ocean Program (President's Annual Report to Congress), Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, April 1972, pp. 65–72.