An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Oceanographic Survey Ships - T-AGS

Last updated: 28 Sep 2023

Military Sealift Command's Special Mission program supports worldwide oceanographic programs with six ships that perform acoustical, biological, physical and geophysical surveys. These ships gather data that provides much of the military's information on the ocean environment. The collected data helps to improve technology in undersea warfare and enemy ship detection. The oceanographic and hydrographic survey ships' multibeam, wide-angle precision sonar systems make it possible to continuously chart a broad strip of ocean floor. Survey ships have charted three-fourths of the world's coastlines, making it easier for navigators to find their way along both well-traveled and not-so-familiar shipping routes.
The Pathfinder-class survey ships have three multipurpose cranes and five winches plus a variety of oceanographic equipment including multibeam echo-sounders, towed sonars and expendable sensors. These ships are capable of carrying 34-foot hydrographic survey launches (HSL) for data collection in coastal regions with depths between 10 and 600 meters and in deep water to 4,000 meters. A small diesel is used for propulsion at towing speeds of up to 6 knots. HSLs carry SIMRAD high-frequency active hull-mounted and side scan sonars. T-AGS 66, the most recent addition to the survey ship fleet, is equipped with an 18 foot by 18 foot moon pool for deploying and retrieving a variety of mission systems, including Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV).
The original contract for the Pathfinder-class of surveying ships was awarded in January 1991 for two ships with an option for a third, which was taken up May 29, 1992. A fourth ship was ordered in October 1994 with an option for two more. A fifth ship was ordered Jan. 15, 1997. Construction began on the sixth ship in the class in 1999. By early 2002, six ships had been delivered and were performing active missions for MSC. The contract for a seventh ship, T-AGS 66, USNS Maury, was awarded in December 2009. In August 2014, T-AGS 61, USNS Sumner, was deactivated, and USNS Maury was delivered on Feb. 16, 2016, restoring the survey fleet to six ships.The Secretary of the Navy, Carlos Del Toro announced on March 8, 2023 that USNS Maury will be renamed the USNS Marie Tharp.  A seventh Pathfinder-class survey ship is under construction at Bollinger Shipyard in Pascagoula, MS. The USNS Robert Ballard is scheduled to be delivered in June of 2025.
General Characteristics, Pathfinder Class, T-AGS 60-65
Builder: Halter Marine Moss Point, MS
Propulsion: Diesel-electric; 4 EMD/Baylor diesel generators; 11, 425 horsepower (8.52 MW); 2 GE CDF 1944 motors; 8,000 horsepower (5.96 MW) sustained; 6,000 horsepower (4.48 MW); 2 Lips Z drives; bow thruster, 1,500 horsepower (1.19 MW)
Length: 328.5 feet (100.1 meters)
Beam: 58 feet (17.7 meters)
Displacement: 4,762 long tons (4,838 metric tons) full load
Speed: 16 knots (18.4 mph)
Crew: 28 civilians plus 27 scientists
Homeport: No homeport assigned
USNS Pathfinder (T-AGS 60)
USNS Bowditch (T-AGS 62)
USNS Henson (T-AGS 63)
USNS Bruce C. Heezen (T-AGS 64)

USNS Mary Sears (T-AGS 65)

General Characteristics, Pathfinder Class, T-AGS 66/67
Builder: VT Halter Marine, MS / Bollinger Shipyard in Pascagoula, MS.
Propulsion: Diesel-electric; Four Main Diesel Generator (DG) sets; Two 2865 KW KATO Model 8P10-3600 generators each coupled with an EMD Model L16-710G7C72 , 16-cylinder diesel (3,600 BHP @ 900 RPM); Two 1440 KW KATO Model 8P7-2600 generators each coupled with an EMD Model L8-710G7C72, 8-cylinder diesel (1,800 BHP)
Length: 353 feet (107.6 meters)
Beam: 58 feet (17.7 meters)
Displacement: 4,888 long tons (4,966 metric tons) full load w/margin
Speed: 15 knots (17.3 mph)
Crew: 28 civilians plus 39 scientists
Homeport: No homeport assigned

USNS Marie Tharp (T-AGS 66)
USNS Robert Ballard (T-AGS 67)

Point of Contact
Military Sealift Command
Public Affairs

471 East C St.

Norfolk, VA 23511-2419

(757) 443 2839


Google Translation Disclaimer

Guidance-Card-Icon Dept-Exclusive-Card-Icon