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USS Maury (AGS-16)
USS Renate (AKA-36)
Career Flag of the United States.svg
Name: USS Renate
Builder: Walsh-Kaiser Company, Providence, Rhode Island
Laid down: 21 November 1944
Launched: 31 January 1945
Commissioned: 28 February 1945
Decommissioned: 19 December 1969
Renamed: USS Maury, 12 July 1946
Reclassified: AGS-16 (Survey ship), 12 July 1946
Struck: 19 December 1969
Honours and
6 battle stars and Meritorious Unit Commendation (Vietnam)
Fate: Sold for scrap in 1973
General characteristics
Class & type: Artemis-class attack cargo ship
Type: S4–SE2–BE1
Displacement: 4,087 long tons (4,153 t) light
7,080 long tons (7,194 t) full
Length: 426 ft (130 m)
Beam: 58 ft (18 m)
Draft: 16 ft (4.9 m)
Speed: 16.9 knots (31.3 km/h; 19.4 mph)
Complement: 303 officers and enlisted
Armament: • 1 × 5"/38 caliber gun mount
• 4 × twin 40 mm gun mounts
• 10 × 20 mm gun mounts

USS Renate (AKA-36) was an Artemis-class attack cargo ship named after the minor planet 575 Renate. The meaning of the name is unknown. The ship was later converted for hydrographic missions and renamed USS Maury (AGS-16), after the famous astronomer and hydrographer Matthew Fontaine Maury. The U.S. Navy originally deployed these survey ships to gather what it called “environmental intelligence” and which the U.S. Navy early realized could be to enormous advantage in naval combat operations. During the critical period of the late 1950s and early 1960s these survey vessels, though, made a historical transition from primarily Hydrographic survey or cartographic charting vessels, serving Naval Oceanographic Office (evolved from the U.S. Naval Observatory and Hydrographic Office through the later separated Hydrographic Office) and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency primarily military and maritime safety purposes, to more substantially scientific survey and oceanographic research ships.[1][2] Through the 1950s and early 1960s, U.S. Naval survey ships, including United States Coast and Geodetic Survey ships engaged by the U.S. Navy, made major discoveries in Earth science. In 1955 for example, scientist aboard the USC&GS Pioneer (OSS 31) first observed the ocean floors magnetic striping while the ship towed the first marine magnetometer (developed at the University of California’s Scripps Oceanographic Research Institute) along the United State’s western coastal waters during the “Pioneer survey”. The discovery of magnetic stripping in combination with the discovery of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge’s seismologically active central valley was critical to the later development of the theory of plate tectonics.[3] As to the Maury, herself, newly expanding oceanographic research aboard survey ships of the 1950s and early 1960s also concentrated heavily on the interaction between ocean and atmosphere.[4] ”In 1958 … in July … her (the Maury’s) North Atlantic resurvey missions were extended and she crossed the ocean to chart the waters in and around the Shetland and Faroe Islands. Throughout this period, while fulfilling her primary assignment of correcting navigational charts, she added to meteorological knowledge by studying the North Atlantic’s weather patterns, particularly with regard to hurricanes.”[5] The ship served under both her names as a commissioned ship for 24 years and 9 months. The ship was originally laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC Hull 1897) as Renate (AKA-36) on 21 November 1944 at Providence, R.I., by Walsh-Kaiser Co., Inc.; launched on 31 January 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Joseph L. Baker; and commissioned at State Pier No.1, Providence, on 28 February 1945, Lt. Cmdr. Joseph F. Wickham, USNR, in command.

Service historyEdit

World War II, 1945–1946Edit

After completing her fitting-out at Boston, Mass., Renate conducted shakedown training in Chesapeake Bay (13–19 March), after which time she underwent post-shakedown availability at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Va.; she ultimately sailed for the Panama Canal Zone on 31 March 1945. After transiting the canal, she arrived at Balboa on 6 April, and sailed thence two days later, bound for Hawaiian waters and steaming independently. Renate reached Pearl Harbor on 21 April, underwent an inspection six days later, and completed discharging cargo on the 29th. Bringing cargo-loading operations to completion on 13 May, Renate embarked 197 enlisted passengers — sailors, marines, and soldiers — and two naval officers for transportation the following day, and sailed for the Marshall Islands. Steaming independently, her men standing daily dawn and dusk alerts, the attack cargo ship crossed the 180th meridian on 18 May, and ultimately reached Eniwetok on the 22nd. Pushing on, bound for the western Carolines, on 5 June, she followed a lone course to Ulithi, arriving on 9 June. Next assigned to convoy UOK-36, Renate got underway for Okinawa on 10 July, dropping anchor in Buckner Bay on the 14th. Interrupting cargo operations to sortie on 19 July to evade a typhoon, she ultimately completed discharging cargo five days later, getting underway to return to Ulithi on 25 July with convoy OKU-16.

Anchoring in Ulithi lagoon on the last day of July, Renate got underway on 2 August for Pearl Harbor. Again steaming independently, she crossed the International Date Line on 10 August, and reached her destination on the 13th. Shifting to Kahului, Maui, ten days later, she completed cargo operations the following day, and sailed to return to Pearl on the 25th.

Departing on 14 May, she returned to Hawaii the day before the Japanese capitulation and was assigned to Operation "Campus," the occupation of the defeated enemy’s home islands. She got underway for Kyūshū 1 September, mooring 16 days later at Sasebo where she disembarked units of the 5th Marines. Completing another occupation troop lift, from the Philippines to Sasebo, in early October, she joined in operation "Magic Carpet", the transportation of Pacific campaign veterans back to the United States. With San Francisco as her terminus she completed two "Magic Carpet" runs by mid January 1946.

The next month she sailed for the East Coast, arriving at Norfolk on the 26th.

Conversion to survey ship, 1946–1948Edit


In June she entered Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for conversion to a survey ship and on 12 July was renamed Maury (AGS 16). As Maury she emerged from the shipyard in October with a new silhouette. Electronic survey and sounding equipment, as well as photographic, printing, and repair shops had been added within her compartments and a helipad, helicopter, and sound boats had been provided topside. The boats would be used in charting positions and depths accurately, while the ship's helicopter would transport surveyors and their equipment to points ashore and perform aerial photographic missions.

On 6 January 1947 Maury got underway for the Pacific and her first hydrographic mission, the charting of the waters around Truk and Kwajalein. Having added to navigational knowledge of those areas she sailed for San Francisco, arriving on 13 September and remaining until 11 July 1948. She then got underway for New York City where she reported for duty with Service Force, Atlantic Fleet, on 10 August.

Atlantic Fleet, 1948–1959Edit

During 1949, 1950, and 1951, Maury made three 8-month cruises to the Persian Gulf, constructing charts of those waters, accompanied by the tugs Allegheny (ATA-179) and Stallion (ATA-193). In October 1952, in concert with Sheldrake (AGS-19) and Prevail (AGS-20) she began a resurvey of the North Atlantic, to correct existing false soundings on navigational charts and studying methods for hurricane and weather predictions. Through 1957 she served in the Western Atlantic, surveying as far north as Newfoundland in the summer months and working to the south, as far as the West Indies, during the winter.

In 1958 Maury returned to the Mediterranean for an abbreviated deployment, from 3 February to 9 May. In July her North Atlantic resurvey missions were extended and she crossed the ocean to chart the waters in and around the Shetland and Faroe Islands. Throughout this period, while fulfilling her primary assignment of correcting navigational charts, she added to meteorological knowledge by studying the North Atlantic's weather patterns, particularly with regard to hurricanes.

Early in the Spring of 1959 Maury again passed through the Straits of Gibraltar. Continuing on to the Eastern Mediterranean she began a study of the Turkish coast. By September she was ready to extend that survey to the Turkish Black Sea coast and on the 17th and 18th transited the Dardanelles. Maury thus became the first U.S. naval unit to enter the Black Sea since 1945.

Pacific Fleet, 1960–1969Edit

The next year, 1960, Maury was transferred to the Pacific Fleet and by 22 March was operating out of Pearl Harbor. Attached to the 7th Fleet's logistic support group during her extended cruises, she completed a preliminary survey of the Gulf of Siam in preparation for her next long range assignment, an accurate survey of designated areas of the southwestern Pacific and Indian Oceans. After modernization at Pearl Harbor, she returned to the Gulf of Siam in December with Serrano (AGS-24). Working in concert, Maury concentrated on hydrographic survey, while Serrano gathered information on the physical and chemical makeup of the waters and ocean floor. During their 1961, 1962, and 1963 7th Fleet tours, the oceanographic vessels charted and collected data on the Gulf of Siam, the Andaman Sea, the Straits of Malacca and areas of the Philippines, punctuating those tours with missions of mercy as the occasion demanded.

Detail of Pacific Fleet activities off Vietnam & in Mekong DeltaEdit

Willard J. McNulty (Captain naval USN) of Spokane, Washington (1918-2004) commanded the Maury during its initial period of Vietnam conflict related activity in Southeast Asian waters from July, 1961 – August, 1962. During that period of Capt. McNulty’s command and with the USS Serrano (AGS-24), the Maury (AGS-16) charted and collected data on the Gulf of Siam, Strait of Malacca, and Andaman Sea in prelude to possible U.S. troop and war ship involvement in Vietnam.[6][7] In addition to standard charting, the extensive U.S.S. Maury (AGS-16) and Serrano (AGS-24) oceanographic and hydrographic surveys completed for these bodies of water included, also, studies of the physical and chemical make-up of both their water and ocean floors by echo sounding casts, bathythermic observations and Core samples, eve and bottom samplings. The Maury completed the brunt of the pairs military intelligence gathering, while the Serrano appears to have completed any more scientific research oriented oceanography.[8] Capt. McNulty, who again was in command of the Maury during this sensitive, early, period of its primarily military environmental intelligence gathering off Vietnam, had been a surface warfare officer during the Korean War and had prior commanded the also storied escort destroyer USS Tabberer (DE-418) (4 Battle stars for World War II service) during its later non-combat operations.[9] He later served as a base commander.[10] The USS Maury (AGS-16) and the USS Serrano (AGS-24) were again teamed in the Gulf of Thailand in 1963-1964, and the USS Maury (AGS-16), itself, saw significant action in the Vietnamese War from 1966-1969, particularly in the Mekong Delta.[11] Its sound boat GS-16-2 was there deployed, and to serve U.S. Vietnam combat operations urgent needs for environmental intelligence, the Maury’s printing plant there generated and printed on board for immediate distribution multicolored field survey charts for the first time in naval history in 1967, receiving for that year’s operations the Secretary of the Navy’s Meritorious Unit Citation.[12]

Summarizing with further detail, the Maury had surveyed the Vietnam coast with the Serrano in 1961-1962 and in 1963-1964. On 1 February 1965 Maury had departed Pearl Harbor for a four-month survey of the continental shelf off Buenaventura, Colombia. Returning to Oahu on 2 June, she began preparations for her return to Southeast Asia. Departing on 15 November she soon commenced a seven-month survey of the coast of strife-torn South Vietnam. As earlier noted, concentrating on the Mekong Delta area during that cruise, she then resumed her study of the Vietnamese coast with each annual deployment. Into 1969 her efforts added significantly to knowledge of the characteristics of the coastal area in which naval forces conducted riverine warfare and amphibious operations. Maury (AGS-16) earned a Meritorious Unit Commendation and six battle stars for her service in the Vietnam War.


After completing her last operational survey operations, off the coast of the Republic of Korea, Maury sailed for home. Pausing at Pearl Harbor en route, she stood out for the West Coast on her final voyage on 1 December 1969. She reached San Francisco on 8 December, off-loading fuel, ammunition, and vehicles before shifting to the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Mare Island, Vallejo, Calif., later the same day. Decommissioned on 19 December 1969, Maury was stricken from the Navy List the same day. The ship remained at the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility until transferred to the custody of the Maritime Administration (MARAD) on 26 June 1970. Taken to MARAD's Suisun Bay, Calif., berthing area, she remained there until sold to the National Steel and Metal Co., of Terminal Island, Calif., on 10 August 1973 to be broken up for scrap.


  1. [], containing, also, other detailed information on history and development of U.S. Navy oceanographic surveys, survey ships and ship facilities and, also, credits these naval surveys with near evolving the entire sub-discipline of earth science known as oceanography
  2. [1], article on Silas Bent class of survey ships defines survey ship and contains discussion on development of modern U.S. hydrographic survey fleet including the Maury AGS-16, ”Survey Ships gather data which provides much of the military's information on the ocean environment. Oceanographic and hydrographic survey ships are used to study the world's oceans. 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 … Prior … conducted with aging warships, converted to oceanographic use. Among the ships employed in this duty were storied names such as … converted stores ships … USS MAURY (AGS-16), the big boys of hydrography and the first to bear these illustrious names “
  3. again
  4. again
  5. [2], hull number AGS-16
  6. [3] Naval History and Heritage Command
  7. [4] chronology of commanding officers of the U.S.S. Maury (AGS-16)
  8. [5] History U.S.S. Serrano
  9. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, James L. Mooney, U.S. Naval Historical Center, ed., (1976) Navy Dept., Office of Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History Division, Vol. 6, p. 6, “Willard J. McNulty”
  10. [6], referencing July 19, 2004 Kingsville and Bishop Record News obituary for Willard J. McNulty
  11. [7], captioned chronological photo archive or history of USS Renate AKA-36 and/or USS Maury AGS-16
  12. [8] USS Mauary AGS-16 tribute site, also, noting ship’s extensive surveys along eastern coast of Vietnam in 1966, 1967 and 1968 during the height of the Vietnam War.

External linksEdit

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