USC&GS Explorer (1904)

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Coast and Geodetic Survey Ship EXPLORER.jpg
USC&GS Explorer
History
Flag of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey.svgUnited States
Name: Explorer
Owner:
Builder: Pusey & Jones, Wilmington, Delaware
Yard number: 316
Completed: 1904
Acquired: 30 November 1904
Commissioned:
  • 29 December 1904 (USC&GS)
  • 3 June 1918 (Navy)
Decommissioned: 31 March 1919 (returned by Navy to USC&GS)
Maiden voyage: 9 March 1905
Renamed: Atkins (FS 237) by Army 1941
General characteristics
Type: Survey ship
Tonnage: 335 GRT
Displacement: 450
Length:
  • 147 ft (44.8 m) LOA
  • 139 ft (42.4 m) LBP
Beam: 27 ft (8.2 m)
Draft: 8 ft 7.5 in (2.6 m) mean at 450 ton displacement
Depth: 14 ft 6.5 in (4.4 m)
Propulsion: Steam engine
Speed: 10.3 knots (19.1 km/h; 11.9 mph)
Crew: 43

The first USC&GS Explorer (1904) was a steamer that served as a survey ship in the US Coast & Geodetic Survey (USCGS) from 1904-1939 with brief time 1918-1919 assigned to Navy for patrol in Alaskan waters.[1] After initial service in the Atlantic the ship transferred to Seattle in 1907 to begin survey work in Alaskan waters during summer and more southern waters in winter. On return from the Navy the ship was condemned and due to be sold. Instead the ship was retained as a survey vessel into the fall of 1939 and existed into World War II when it saw service with the United States Army Corps of Engineers as Atkins.

Description as built[edit]

Explorer was built by Pusey & Jones of Wilmington, Delaware as hull number 316 and delivered to the Coast & Geodetic Survey on 30 November 1904.[2][3]

The ship was schooner rigged with two masts with sails to steady the ship, not propulsion, which was by means of an engine with cylinders 13 in (33.0 cm) and 26 in (66.0 cm) with a 20 in (50.8 cm) stroke driving a single 7 ft 6 in (2.3 m) bronze propeller. A 10 ft 6 in (3.2 m) diameter by 11 ft (3.4 m) long boiler provided steam. Wood was the primary material with metal used only when needed and where it could be used "without defeating the purpose of the wooden hull".[note 1] The hull was 147 ft (44.8 m) length overall, 139 ft (42.4 m) length between perpendiculars, 27 ft (8.2 m) extreme beam with a depth of 14 ft 6.5 in (4.4 m). Displacement was 450 tons on a mean draft of 8 ft 7.5 in (2.6 m).[4]

1906 registry information shows a vessel of 335 GRT, signal letters GVWJ, speed of 10.3 kn (11.9 mph; 19.1 km/h), 85 ton coal capacity and a crew of seven officers and 36 men.[5]

Coast & Geodetic Survey service[edit]

The ship was placed in commission 29 December 1904 but was weather bound in Wilmington until 9 March 1905 at which time the ship sailed for Puerto Rico. Explorer made magnetic observations at Norfolk and during the remainder of the voyage. Work was then commenced on hydrographic surveys and updating Coast Pilot information. The ship returned to Baltimore, making magnetic observations during the voyage, on 21 June 1905 where repairs were made.[2]

The ship left Baltimore 26 July 1905 reaching Rockland, Maine on 30 July to begin surveys lasting until 2 November when Explorer returned to Baltimore for repairs before sailing on 4 January 1906 for a winter survey season of the south coast of Puerto Rico arriving there on 20 January taking magnetic observations on the voyage. The southern surveys ended on 28 May with arrival at Baltimore on 5 June where repairs were undertaken.[6] Explorer left Baltimore for northern surveys on 23 July 1906 working until the end of the season on 11 December and return to Baltimore on 15 December for repairs before a major transfer in operations. On 19 February 1907 the ship departed Baltimore for Seattle by way of the Straits of Magellan making magnetic observations during the voyage.[7] On 3 July 1907 the ship reached San Diego and arrived in Seattle 15 July. On 17 August the ship sailed for Alaska to begin series of surveys in northern waters during summer and more southern portions of the west coast in winter.[8] On 12 November 1907 her launch was run down by the steamer Indianapolis in thick fog at Seattle, Washington. Two of four crewmen in the launch drowned in the incident.[9]

Explorer was transferred to the US Navy on 22 May 1918 and commissioned as USS Explorer on 3 June 1918. The ship was assigned patrol the canneries and fishing grounds of Alaska, including Prince William Sound, until ordered to be returned to the Survey on 31 March 1919.[10] The ship. along with USC&GS Patterson and Navy submarine chasers 309 and 310, was assigned the patrol duty as a result of rumors of German and Industrial Workers of the World activity among the cannery and fishery workers.[11] On return from the Navye Explorer was condemned and to be sold.[12]

The USC&GS Director's annual report covering 1 July 1919 to 30 June 1920 contained an entire section dealing with the urgent need to survey Alaskan waters to enable commerce to develop in the territory. The shortage and limitations of vessels was emphasized.[13] Explorer had been laid up in Seattle since its return from the Navy and was put back in commission for USC&GS work in February 1920. The ship was equipped for wire drag survey and as mother ship for smaller vessels and assigned Helianthus and Scandinavia[note 2] which had both been repaired after their naval service. The vessels proceeded to Alaska for triangulation, topographic and hydrographic survey of Stephens Passage.[14] Explorer continued in service and appears in the Coast and Geodetic Survey annual reports and the United States registry under "Vessels of the Coast and Geodetic Survey" into 1939.[15][16]

Transfer to other agencies[edit]

Explorer, working in Puget Sound in the fall of 1939, was transferred to the National Youth Administration after service of thirty-five years as the new USC&GS Explorer (OSS 28) was due to begin service in spring.[17] Explorer was acquired and converted in 1941 by the US Army and renamed Atkins (FS 237) whereupon the United States Army Corps of Engineers used her for survey work.[18]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ In operation the ship did extensive magnetic survey work in which extensive metal would distort observations.
  2. ^ Scandinavia (SP 3363) during naval service.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Coast & Geodetic Survey: Explorer". National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b Report Of the Superintendent of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (Report). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1904. pp. 17, 20=22.
  3. ^ Colton, Tim (September 12, 2014). "Pusey & Jones, Wilmington DE". ShipbuildingHistory. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  4. ^ "Coast Survey Steamer Explorer". Marine Review. Cleveland: The Penton Publishing Co. 32 (16): 27. October 19, 1905. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  5. ^ Thirty-Eighth Annual List of Merchant Vessels of the United States, Year ended June 30, 1906. Washington, D.C.: Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of Navigation. 1906. p. 411. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  6. ^ Report Of the Superintendent of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (Report). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1905. p. 16.
  7. ^ Report Of the Superintendent of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (Report). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1907. p. 14.
  8. ^ Report Of the Superintendent of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (Report). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1908. p. 14.
  9. ^ "Annual report of the Supervising Inspector-general Steamboat-inspection Service, Year ending June 30, 1908". Harvard University. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  10. ^ Naval History And Heritage Command. "Explorer". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval History And Heritage Command. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  11. ^ "Naval Patrol". Reports of the Department of the Interior 1918. United States Department of the Interior. 2, Indian Affairs and Territories: 570. 1918. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  12. ^ Report Of the Superintendent of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (Report). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1919. p. 83.
  13. ^ Alaska Needs Immediate, Definite, and Adequate Relief. Report Of the Superintendent of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (Report). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1920. pp. 37–52.
  14. ^ Annual Report Of the Director, United States Coast and Geodetic Survey to the Secretary of Commerce (Report). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1920. p. 95.
  15. ^ Annual Report Of the Director, United States Coast and Geodetic Survey to the Secretary of Commerce (Report). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1939. p. 101.
  16. ^ Merchant Vessels of the United States 1938. Washington, D.C.: Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of Navigation. 1938. p. 530. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  17. ^ Annual Report Of the Director, United States Coast and Geodetic Survey to the Secretary of Commerce (Report). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1940. p. 121.
  18. ^ Grover, David (1987). U.S. Army Ships and Watercraft of World War II. Naval Institute Press. p. 80. ISBN 0-87021-766-6. LCCN 87015514.

External links[edit]