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USS Oxford (AG 159, later AGTR 1) on 4 January 1962.
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Class: OXFORD (AGTR 1)
Design: SCB Project 192 (for AGTR 1) and 192A (for AGTR 2-3), conversions of MC Z-EC2-S-C5
Displacement (tons): 7,330 light, 11,365 full
Dimensions (feet): 441.5' oa, 428' wl, 417' pp x 57' e/wl x 23'
Armament: none; (1, 3: 1969) 3-20mmT; (2: 1969) 6-20mmT
Speed (kts.): 11
Propulsion (HP): 2,500
Machinery: Steam triple expansion reciprocating, 2 boilers (220psi/450deg), 1 screw
|1||OXFORD||10 Oct 1960||New England SB||23 May 1945||31 Jul 1945||8 Jul 1961|
|2||GEORGETOWN||10 Aug 1962||New England SB||4 May 1945||10 Jul 1945||9 Nov 1963|
|3||JAMESTOWN||10 Aug 1962||New England SB||4 May 1945||10 Jul 1945||13 Dec 1963|
|1||OXFORD||19 Dec 1969||19 Dec 1969||14 May 1970||MA/S||--|
|2||GEORGETOWN||19 Dec 1969||19 Dec 1969||24 Jun 1970||MA||24 Jul 1970|
|3||JAMESTOWN||19 Dec 1969||19 Dec 1969||14 May 1970||MA/S||--|
Approved characteristics for a Technical Research Ship (AG) conversion, SCB Project No. 192, were promulgated on 25 April 1958 with a final change on 6 October 1960. In October 1958 BUSHIPS decided to select a Liberty Z-EC2-S-C5 type hull for the conversion. On 4 April 1959 CNO Arleigh Burke informed the Chairman of the Ship Characteristics Board that at a meeting on the previous day the desirability of having a ship to obtain COMINT, ELINT, and other electronics data to be used sporadically off hostile coasts had been discussed. Burke focused on the possibility of building this capability into some new construction combatant ships but added that consideration should also be given to a few small surface ships if it could be done at a reasonable cost. The navy was then designing communications relay ships and fleet flagships. Dedicated intelligence collection ships were not mentioned except for the "small surface ships," but around this time the first Technical Research Ship was included in the FY 1960 shipbuilding program. On 25 November 1960 the classification AG 159 and name OXFORD were assigned to the technical research ship then undergoing conversion. The dish antenna on the sterns of these ships as completed was probably for the Technical Research Ship Special COMMunications (TRSSCOMM) system, which could relay messages directly to Washington by bouncing a microwave signal off the moon. This system consisted of a sixteen-foot, dish shaped antenna mounted on a movable platform and capable of bouncing a 10,000 watt microwave signal off a particular spot on the moon and down either to receiving stations at Cheltenham or Maryland or to other Navy SIGINT ships. It was also fitted in PVT JOSE F VALDEZ (AG 169, ex APC 119).
Experience with OXFORD led to the inclusion of two technical research ship conversions in the FY 1963 shipbuilding program (see AGTR 4-5). It was then decided that more ships of this type were needed, so two additional ones were placed in the FY 1962 program in compliance with a SECDEF memo to SECNAV dated 12 February 1962 and the characteristics of OXFORD were extensively updated for them. The most important change was in the new list of electronic equipment for the ships. Approved characteristics for a Technical Research Ship (AG) conversion, SCB Project No. 192A, were promulgated on 19 April 1962 with a final change on 13 January 1964. On 1 May 1962 SECNAV informed the Secretary of Commerce that the Navy had a requirement for two Liberty ships for conversion to Technical Research Ships under FY 1962 and requested either ROBERT W. HART and WALTER F. PERRY (previously selected by the Army and replaced by J. HOWLAND GARDNER) on the east coast or ALBERT M. BOE and CARDINAL O'CONNELL on the west coast. They would be required around 1 September 1962. The successful bidder for the conversion was on the east coast so the first two were chosen. On 6 March 1963 the classifications and names ROBERT W HART (MCE 3125) and J HOWLAND GARDNER (MCE 2126) were changed to GEORGETOWN (AG 165) and JAMESTOWN (AG 166) for two technical research ships then undergoing conversion. As in OXFORD, about 4,000 tons of locked-in water ballast was added to give proper propeller immersion, satisfactory trim, and a two-compartment standard of damage survival. The ships, being of the Z-EC2-S-C5 type with four oversized holds, also had to have new bulkheads added to meet the two-compartment standard. With the ballast the full load displacement was 11,400 tons.
JAMESTOWN was inspected at Yokosuka, Japan, by an INSURV board around 1 November 1969. The Board found her to be unfit for further service due to obsolescence and unsatisfactory material condition of the main machinery and ship's service electrical system. Her conversion cost had been $7,924,558 and her value when sold for scrap was estimated at $97,000. No mention was made of operational considerations in arriving at this decision, although she and her two sisters left service soon after the LIBERTY and PUEBLO incidents.
|1||OXFORD||3127||FY 1960. (ex merc. SAMUEL R AITKEN, compl. 31 Aug 1945). Converted at NSY New York. On 25 February 1964 effective 1 April 1964 OXFORD (AG 159) was reclassified to AGTR 1. Returned to MA and sold by them at Yokosuka, to buyer 8 Jun 1970.|
|2||GEORGETOWN||3125||FY 1962. (ex merc. ROBERT W HART, compl. 2 Aug 1945). Converted at Newport News. Named 6 Mar 1963. On 25 February 1964 effective 1 April 1964 GEORGETOWN (AG 165) was reclassified to AGTR 2. Returned to MA and sold by them in the JRRF, to buyer 26 Aug 1970|
|3||JAMESTOWN||3126||FY 1962. (ex merc. J HOWLAND GARDNER, compl. 14 Aug 1945). Converted at Newport News. On 25 February 1964 effective 1 April 1964 JAMESTOWN (AG 166) was reclassified to AGTR 3. Returned to MA and sold by them at Yokosuka, to buyer 27 May 1970.|
Compiled: 19 Oct 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Sources: NARA: RG19 Item S-13 Entry 1022-V(UD)