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USS Pigeon (ASR 21).

USS Pigeon (ASR 21). She is a catamaran with two widely-separated hulls.
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Class: PIGEON (ASR 21)
Design: SCB Project Nos. 721.67 and 721.68
Displacement (tons): 4,119 light, 4,954 full
Dimensions (feet): 251' oa, 230'wl x 86' x 26' max nav
Armament: none, (1976) 2-20mmS
Accommodations: 10 officers, 183 enlisted
Speed (kts.): 15
Propulsion (HP): 6,000
Machinery: Diesel, 2 screws

21PIGEON15 Nov 1967Alabama DD/SB17 Jul 196813 Aug 196928 Apr 1973
22ORTOLAN15 Nov 1967Alabama DD/SB28 Aug 196810 Sep 196914 Jul 1973

ASRNameTDecomm/CustStrikeDisposalFateMA Sale/Depart
21PIGEON31 Aug 199231 Aug 199218 Dec 1998MA/T23 Nov 2011
22ORTOLAN30 Mar 199530 Mar 19951 May 1999MA/T29 Jun 2009

Class Notes:
On 14 October 1966 the Navy made the case for ASR procurement to the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Systems Analysis) arguing that the age of the Navy's World War II-vintage ASRs was of prime concern, of equal importance was their inability to support new equipment. Recent advances in deep submarine rescue, deep saturated diving and major salvage required a ship of greater capability and flexibility than the old ships. Features in the proposed ASR design would include a catamaran hull with 40% greater deck space including a helo platform and better sea-keeping qualities; the ability to support deep saturated diving with facilities for 8 divers, fixed decompression and personnel tranfer capsules; the capability to transport, operate and support two rescue submarines; compatability with portable vans for towed sonar for SAR or major salvage control equipment; and facilities for a Rescue Control Center with underwater communications, tracking and recording. The Navy planned to replace five of the old ASRs with new ships by FY 1972 (one per year in FY 1967-72 except 1970) while retaining a total force of ten, but with the fiscal shortfalls of the end of the 1960s only two new ASRs were ultimately procured (in 1967 and 1968) and four the old ASRs remained in service into the 1990s. Approved characteristics for a Submarine Rescue Vessel (ASR), SCB Project No. 721.67, were promulgated on 22 April 1966 and updated as SCB Project No. 721.68 on 26 May 1967 and as SCB Project No. 721.67 on 28 December 1968 with a final change on 16 September 1975.

During a strong storm while undergoing sea trials Ortolan suffered extensive hull damage requiring damage control wood shoring to prevent hull deformation. The twin hulls were acting like a venturi with a large volume of water trying to pass between the hulls. The center well folding deck hatches for the Deep-submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) were eventually destroyed and there was a geyser coming through the deck opening with each wave. To solve this problem a hull foil was designed to be installed between the front ends of the two hulls. In 1974 Pigeon was drydocked at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, San Francisco, CA., and Ortolan was drydocked at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Philadelphia, PA. for installation of the hull foils. (Source: NavSource, with six photos.)

Ship Notes:
21PIGEONFY 1967. Delivered 29 Jan 1972. To MA custody in Suisun Bay (SBRF) 4 Sep 1992. Navy scrap contract 29 Sep 1995 with Pegasus Inc. at the former NSY Mare Island, withdrawn from NDRF 7 Feb 1996 to BU, repossessed 30 Jul 1997 and contract canc., returned to NDRF 15 May 1998. At San Diego 23 Mar 2001 to 4 Aug 2005 as static anti-terrorism training platform for CNET. Replaced by a new building and towed back to SBRF Sep 2005. Departed SBRF 9 Jan 2012 under domestic sale to Int’l Shipbr. LTD, Brownsville.
22ORTOLANFY 1968. Delivered 17 May 1972. To MA custody in JRRF 4 Feb 1997. Departed JRRF 20 Jul 2009 for Brownsville under contract of 29 Jun 2009 with ESCO Marine. BU complete 23 Mar 2010.

Page Notes:
Compiled: 2 Oct 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021