USS Searcher (AGR-4)

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Career (USA) Union Navy Jack
Name: USS Searcher
Ordered: as a type (Z-EC2-S-C5) hull, MCE hull 2338
Builder: J. A. Jones Construction Co. Inc., Panama City, Florida
Laid down: as SS James W. Wheeler, 11 December 1944
Launched: 23 January 1945
Sponsored by: Mrs. R. D. Turnage
Acquired: by the U.S. Navy, 19 September 1954, at Wilmington, North Carolina
Commissioned: 2 April 1955 as USS Searcher (YAGR-4) at Charleston Naval Shipyard, Charleston, South Carolina
Decommissioned: 1 July 1965
Renamed: Searcher, 1954
Reclassified: AGR-4, 28 September 1958
Refit: converted to a Radar picket ship at the Charleston Naval Shipyard, Charleston, South Carolina
Struck: 1 July 1965
Homeport: Davisville, Rhode Island
Fate: sold for scrapping, 31 May 1970
General characteristics
Type: Guardian-class radar picket ship
Tons burthen: 10,760 tons
Length: 441' 6"
Beam: 56' 11"
Draft: 24'
Installed power: two Electric Generators
Propulsion: two 220 PSI boilers; one 3 cylinder triple-expansion reciprocating engine; one 4 blade, 18' 6" propeller; Shaft Horsepower 2,500
Speed: 11 knots
Capacity: Fuel Oil, 443,646 gals; Diesel, 68,267 gals; Fresh Water, 15,082 gals; Ballast, 1,326,657 gals fresh water
Complement: 13 officers, 138 enlisted
Armament: two 3"/50 guns

USS Searcher (YAGR-4/AGR-4) was a Guardian-class radar picket ship acquired by the U.S. Navy in 1954. She was obtained from the National Defense Reserve Fleet and reconfigured as a radar picket ship and assigned to radar picket duty in the North Atlantic Ocean as part of the Distant Early Warning Line.

Built in Panama City, Florida[edit]

Searcher (YAGR-4) was laid down on 11 December 1944 under U.S. Maritime Commission contract (MC hull E-2338) by the J. A. Jones Construction Co., Panama City, Florida, as Liberty ship James W. Wheeler; launched on 23 January 1945; sponsored by Mrs. R. D. Turnage; and delivered on 5 February 1945 to the Calmar Steamship Company.

Reclassified YAGR-4 in August 1954, she was acquired by the Navy from the Maritime Administration on 15 September 1954; renamed Searcher; converted to a radar picket ship at the Charleston Naval Shipyard, Charleston, South Carolina; and commissioned on 2 April 1955, Lt. Comdr. James A. Paulick in command.

Radar picket duty[edit]

Searcher departed Charleston, South Carolina, on 16 May 1955 for Newport, Rhode Island, where, after shakedown, she reported for duty with the seaward extension of America's early warning defense system. She reported on station for her first patrol on 5 July 1955.

Fitted with sophisticated electronic search and tracking equipment, Searcher could detect, track, and report enemy aircraft at great distances, and control high-speed interceptor aircraft in event of attack. She also carried out weather reporting duties during her three-to-four-week-long cruises.

On 13 November 1955, Searcher was damaged by an engine room fire which burned for six and one-half hours before being extinguished with the aid of two other ships. Her patrols were otherwise uneventful. She was reclassified AGR-4 effective 28 September 1958; and, during the Cuban Missile crisis in 1962, she operated at sea for 60 out of 67 days.

Decommissioning[edit]

On 1 July 1965, Searcher was decommissioned, struck from the Navy List and transferred to the Maritime Administration. She was laid up in the Hudson River berthing area of the National Defense Reserve Fleet until sold for scrapping on 7 August 1970 to the North American Smelting Co., Wilmington, Delaware.

See also[edit]

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