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USNS Mirfak (T-AK 271) soon after completion.
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Class: ELTANIN (AK 270)
Design: MA C1-ME2-13a
Displacement (tons): 2,036 light, 3,886 full
Dimensions (feet): 266.2' oa, 250' wl, 235.1'pp x 51.5' e x 19'max, 18' max nav
Accommodations: 11 officers, 29 unlicensed, 12 passengers
Speed (kts.): 13
Propulsion (HP): 3,200
Machinery: Diesel electric, 2 screws
|270||ELTANIN||22 Sep 1955||Avondale Marine Ways||4 Jun 1956||16 Jan 1957||2 Aug 1957|
|271||MIRFAK||22 Sep 1955||Avondale Marine Ways||5 Jul 1956||5 Aug 1957||4 Oct 1957|
|272||MIZAR||22 Sep 1955||Avondale Marine Ways||21 Jan 1957||7 Oct 1957||22 Nov 1957|
|270||ELTANIN||T||Feb 1973||19 Apr 1988||2 Jul 1990||MA/T||5 Feb 1992|
|271||MIRFAK||T||11 Dec 1979||21 Feb 1992||23 Dec 1994||MA/T||Feb 2003|
|272||MIZAR||T||17 Jan 1990||16 Feb 1990||17 Feb 1992||MA/T||21 Jul 2005|
On 8 August 1956 classifications and names were approved for four cargo ships (AK) and one Cargo Ship Dock (AKD) then under construction for MSTS that had not yet been named. Three, AK 270-272, had reinforced hulls for Arctic and Antarctic service, and the names of the northernmost stars ELTANIN, MIRFAK, and MIZAR respectively were given to them. The names were recommended by an officer in MSTS. They had many specialized polar features, including her ice strengthened hull, light icebreaker bow, two subzero weatherproofed crow's nests including one forward with a steering station with direct controls, and polar environmental protection throughout. On 23 August 1962 effective 15 November 1962 ELTANIN (T-AK 270) was reclassified T-AGOR 8. She was converted in 1961-1962 to a seagoing Antarctic scientific research laboratory sponsored by the National Science Foundation with a helicopter deck aft, a weather balloon inflation shelter beneath it, extensive gear for meterological and upper atmosphere studies, devices to record and evaluate temperatures, currents depths, salinity and chemistry of water, geophysical instruments to study the earth's magnetic field and the earth's crust beneath the oceans, and special antennas designed for upper atmosphere physics. On 15 April 1964 CNO changed the class and hull number of USNS MIZAR from T-AK 272 to T-AGOR 11 effective 15 April 1964 and the class and hull number of USNS LT JAMES E ROBINSON from T-AG 170 to T-AK 274 effective 1 July 1964. (The ROBINSON was originally T-AKV 3 and first became T-AK 274 in 1959.)
On 1 April 1975 the Naval Electronic Systems Command (NAVELEX) informed MSC that it had a firm requirement for USNS MIZAR and strongly desired to assume sponsorship of her as soon as possible after the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) completed removal of its equipment in July 1975. To assist in planning equipment installations, NAVELEX asked NRL for its decision soonest regarding the deep-sea winch system, forward and after RAP winches, and air compressor that it had previously mentioned.
|270||ELTANIN||46||Delivered 1 Oct 1957. To T-AGOR 8 15 Nov 1962. Loaned to Argentina 19 Feb 1974 as ISLAS ORCADAS. Returned 1 Aug 1979. Berthed temporarily in the navy reserve fleet at Portsmouth, Va., 1 Aug 79 pending NSF determination of plans for reactivation for polar programs. To MA custody in JRRF 21 Feb 1990. Title to MA 2 Jul 1990.
Departed JRRF 18 Mar 1992 following scrap sale.|
|271||MIRFAK||47||Delivered 30 Dec 1957. To MA custody 11 Dec 1979. Title to MA 1 Jan 1995. BU completed 17 Jul 2003 by Marine Metals, Brownsville.|
|272||MIZAR||48||Delivered 7 Mar 1958. To T-AGOR 11 15 Apr 1964. To MA custody in JRRF 17 Jan 1990. Title to MA 17 Feb 1992. To scrapping facility 16 Aug 2005, BU completed 27 Feb 2006 by Bay Bridge Enterprises LLC of Chesapeake, VA.|
Compiled: 7 Aug 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Sources: DB, Maroon, VSC