USNS Eltanin (T-AK-270)
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|Namesake:||A star in the constellation Draco|
|Builder:||Avondale Marine Ways, Inc., Avondale, Louisiana|
|Laid down:||date unknown as type (C1-ME2-13a) hull|
|Launched:||16 January 1957|
|Acquired:||by the U.S. Navy, October 1957|
|In service:||October 1957 by MSTS as USNS Eltanin (T-AK-270)|
|Out of service:||date unknown|
|Reclassified:||Oceanographic Research Vessel (T-AGOR-8), 23 August 1962|
|Fate:||transferred to Argentina in 1974|
|Name:||ARA Islas Orcadas|
|Type:||cargo ship (icebreaker)|
|Tons burthen:||3,886 tons|
|Propulsion:||diesel electric, two shafts, 3,200hp|
|Complement:||18 civilians, 15 scientific party, 6 Navy|
USNS Eltanin (T-AK-270/T-AGOR-8) was an Eltanin-class cargo ship with an ice-breaking hull acquired by the U.S. Navy in 1957 and then operated by the Navy in a non-commissioned status, named after Eltanin, a star in the constellation Draco. Her designation was changed to that of an oceanographic research ship in 1962 when she operated in Antarctic waters.
Eltanin (T-AK-270) was launched on 16 January 1957 by Avondale Marine Ways, Inc., Avondale, Louisiana. She was turned over to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) in October 1957 for operation in a noncommissioned status.
Conversion to research ship
During 1961 and 1962, Eltanin was modified throughout at a New York shipyard to fill a new role as a floating laboratory. Former cargo spaces were replaced with labs, workshops, and staterooms for scientists, and further labs were added above decks. Anti-roll tanks were also added, along with protective bulwarks. On 23 August 1962 her classification was changed to Oceanographic Research Vessel and designated T-AGOR-8.
Eltanin was assigned to the National Science Foundation to support the Foundation's Antarctic Research Program with the ship operated by the Military Sea Transportation Service. The ship worked in the Antarctic Ocean becoming the first Antarctic research ship to do so. After two shakedown cruises in the Atlantic Ocean and a positioning cruise with further testing en route, Eltanin operated a total of 52 Antarctic research cruises from July 5, 1962 thru December 29, 1972. Over this time, some 80% of the southern ocean was surveyed, and a total of 400,000 miles traveled.
Some of Eltanin's research cruises collected magnetic profiles of the sea floor that proved to be pivotal evidence in the acceptance of the continental drift theory, by proving the existence of sea floor spreading. These key profiles, which show symmetric bands of alternating magnetic orientation (corresponding to magnetic pole reversals) around various undersea ridges, are known by the ship's name and cruise number (ex. Eltanin-19).
As of mid-1973, Eltanin was laid up in San Francisco Bay, her research career at an end.
Eltanin was placed out of service at an unknown date and struck from the Naval Vessel Register, also at an unknown date, and transferred to the U.S. Maritime Administration for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet.
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- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- Nelson, Stewart B (1971). Oceanographic Ships Fore and Aft. Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy. LCCN 71614043. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
- NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive - T-AK-270 / T-AGOR-8 Eltanin
- Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory history
- USNS Eltanin's 55 Cruises-Scientific Accomplishments
- USNS Eltanin: Four Years of Research
- "Buque Hidrografico A.R.A. "ISLAS ORCADAS " 1974-1979". Histarmar - Historia y Arqueología Marítima (in Spanish). Argentina: Fundación Histarmar. Retrieved 29 December 2015.