PASCAGOULA, Miss. (NNS) -- The Oceanographer of the Navy helped lay the keel for the Navy's newest oceanographic survey ship during a ceremony at Pascagoula's Halter Marine in Moss Point, Miss., Feb. 1.
Rear Adm. David Titley also addressed those attending the keel laying for USNS Maury (T-AGS 66), the seventh ship in its class.
"We have taken the lessons learned from operating these ships and incorporated them into Maury," Titley said, speaking at the keel-laying ceremony.
Maury will be the first oceanographic survey ship built since USNS Mary Sears (T-AGS 65), was launched in 2000.
Other T-AGS 60 class ships built by Halter Marine include USNS Pathfinder (T-AGS 60), USNS Henson (T-AGS 63), USNS Bruce Heezen (T-AGS 64) USNS Sumner (T-AGS 61), USNS Bowditch (T-AGS 62) and USNS Mary Sears. All are currently still in service.
Maury, at approximately 350 feet, will be 24 feet longer than the other ships in the same class. This modification is to accommodate a 300 square-foot moon pool for unmanned vehicle deployment and retrieval. Titley said a variety of unmanned vehicles are routinely used in data collection operations by Navy oceanographers.
The ship is named for Navy Lt. Matthew Fontaine Maury, considered to be the father of naval oceanography and nicknamed the "Pathfinder of the Seas." Maury was the first superintendent of the U.S. Naval Observatory. The keel was laid on the anniversary of his death in 1873.
Once commissioned, USNS Maury will be used by the Naval Oceanographic Office in naval operations and to survey the world's oceans. Titley said that only about 10 percent of the world's oceans have been surveyed to modern standards.
"The reason we need to understand the ocean better is so we can operate safely and effectively anywhere," he said.
For more news from Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnmoc/.