The Navy held a keel laying and dedication ceremony for its two newest Auxiliary General Purpose Oceanographic Research vessels (AGOR 27 and AGOR 28) Aug. 17 at Dakota Creek Industries, Inc., shipyard in Anacortes, Wash.
The Ocean Class AGOR ships will be well-equipped modern oceanographic research platforms capable of satisfying a wide range of research activities conducted by academic institutions and national laboratories involved in oceanographic research.
While keel laying was once traditionally the formal recognition of the start of ship construction, the ceremony also recognizes the symbolic beginning of a ship.
“This ceremony represents the beginning of a new class of ships,” said Frank McCarthey, Auxiliary Ships, Boats and Craft program manager for Program Executive Office (PEO), Ships. “These ships will join the U.S. academic research fleet, supporting critical naval research throughout the world’s oceans.”
Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, chief of naval research, and Dr. Susan Avery, president of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, welded their initials into a steel plate, authenticating that the keel of AGOR 27 was “truly and fairly laid.” Robert Winokur, deputy and technical director, Oceanography, Space and Maritime Domain Awareness and deputy oceanographer of the Navy, and Dr. Tony Haymet, director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, then welded their initials on a steel plate, thus dedicating the future keel of AGOR 28. These plates will later be welded into place on the vessels, where they will sail with the vessels throughout their service lives.
The Navy has been a leader in building and providing large research ships for the nation’s academic research fleet since World War II. The new Ocean Class ships will replace two previously Navy-built and owned vessels. The ships to be replaced, R/V Meville (AGOR 14) and R/V Knorr (AGOR 15), have both served the nation’s oceanographic needs for more than forty years.
Designed as single-hull ships, AGOR 27 and AGOR 28 are approximately 238 feet long and incorporate the latest technologies, including high-efficiency diesel engines, emissions controls for stack gasses, new information technology tools both for monitoring shipboard systems and for communicating with the world, and hull coatings to reduce maintenance requirements. Each vessel will operate with a crew of 20 with accommodations for 24 scientists.
AGOR 27 is expected to be delivered in late 2014, with AGOR 28 following soon after in early 2015. The ships will be delivered to the Office of Naval Research and operated under charter-party agreements by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, respectively, allowing scientists to continue with ongoing research efforts.
As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all major surface combatants, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and special warfare craft.
Press Release, August 21, 2012; Image: gpai