STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. (NNS) -- The Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) bid farewell to one of its oldest members - the USNS John McDonnell (T-AGS 51) - as the ship was deactivated Aug. 25.
The hydrographic survey ship was named for a former NAVOCEANO commanding officer who later became the first commander of what is now the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, NAVOCEANO's parent command.
The 208-foot oceanographic survey vessel has traveled the world since late 1991 when it was delivered to Military Sealift Command (MSC) for use by NAVOCEANO.
Each mission was supported by a complement of about 14 NAVOCEANO surveyors and 23 civilian mariners from Naval Oceanographic (NAVO) Detachment (DET) 124. It has surveyed the territorial waters of 10 countries, as well as the shallow areas of the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and Caribbean Sea, among other large bodies of water. The ship has also been host to numerous dignitaries and international partners.
In its nearly 20 years, McDonnell has collected approximately 392,500 nautical miles of swath bathymetry and 35,000 nautical miles of side scan sonar imagery, in addition to having charted and verified thousands of navigation hazards. In support of the Navy's safety of navigation, it has dropped 17,900 expendable bathythermograph probes and conducted 4,500 conductivity-temperature-depth casts.
Each of McDonnell's three platforms, the ship and two 34-foot hydrographic survey launches, are outfitted with side-scan sonar used for hazard identification and other sensors used to collect physical oceanography, bottom classification, ocean currents and weather data.
McDonnell has also risen to emergent tasking on several occasions. Using its side scan sonar, NAVO Detachment 124 located two downed F-16s Fighting Falcons in the Northern Arabian Gulf in 1993 and the wreckage of a Navy helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz in 1994. In 1996, it positioned a crashed F-14 Tomcat in the Central Arabian Gulf.
In support of the effort to streamline survey operations, John McDonnell, the last ship of its class, had to deactivate. Naval Sea Systems Command took delivery of the ship in Pearl Harbor Aug. 25. NAVOCEANO will host the family of the late Capt. John McDonnell for a reception at the Maury Oceanographic Library at Stennis Space Center, Miss., Sept. 30.
Following the deactivation, NAVOCEANO has technical control of six T-AGS 60-class ships capable of surveying coastal regions as well as performing full ocean surveys. Construction of the next generation of survey ships, T-AGS 66, will commence in October 2010.
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