VT Halter Marine Inc., Pascagoula, Miss., held a christening ceremony in late March for the Navy’s 353’×58’×19′ oceanographic research vessel Maury (T-AGS 66).
The christening was held at VT Halter’s Moss Point, Miss., facility. VT Halter has built the previous six ships of the T-AGS (Tactical Amphibious Ground Support) 60-class for the Navy.
The Maury has an additional 24′ in length to accommodate a moon pool for deployment and retrieval of autonomous underwater vehicles. “This vessel, the USNS Maury, is an enhanced version of the prior T-AGS,” said Bill Skinner, VT Halter’s CEO.
Designed to perform acoustic, biological, physical, and geophysical surveys, T-AGS 66 will gather oceanographic data that provides vital military information concerning ocean environments.
Main propulsion for the diesel-electric Maury will come from four EMD/Baylor diesel generators, producing 11,425 hp, and two GE CDF 1944, 8,000-hp electric motors turning twin Lips Z-drives. The package will give the new research vessel a running speed of 16 knots.
The vessel will also feature a 1,500-hp bowthruster.
The Maury will have a crew of 28, with room for 39 scientists aboard.
VT Halter was awarded the $87 million contract to build this version of the T-AGS 60-class for the Navy in December 2009. Construction of T-AGS 66 began in September 2010, the keel laying ceremony was held in February 2011, and delivery to the Military Sealift Command (MSC) is scheduled for January 2014. The Maury will be operated by MSC for the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NAVMETOCCOM).
NAVMETOCCOM’s duties include directing the Navy’s meteorology, oceanography and hydrography programs, operating the Navy’s atomic clock for precise time, and tracking the positions of the stars for navigation.
The command is made up of about 2,500 officer, enlisted and civilian personnel stationed around the world. It enables the safety, speed and operational effectiveness of the fleet by identifying the risks and opportunities for naval and joint forces posed by the present and future “battlespace,” according to the Navy.
T-AGS 66 is named in honor of Cmdr. Matthew Fontaine Maury, nicknamed “Pathfinder of the Seas,” and also known as the “Father of Modern Oceanography.”