Photo Courtesy of EM2 Terry D. Gann(USNR-Ret) USS Maury AGS16  67-68

A History of the USS Maury AGS16
Edited by Frank Burgess, Maury 68, EA2, USNR

Comdr. Mathew Fontain Maury, astronomer and hydrographer, was born in Spotsylvania County, Va. 14 January 1806. Appointed midshipman 1 February  1825, he achieved the rank of commander 14 September  1855. He was appointed Superintendent of the Department of Charts and Instruments in 1842, and upon the establishment of the Naval Observatory in 1844 became its first superintendent, holding that position until his resignation in April 1861. During this period he published some of his best known scientific works, and his "Wind and Current Charts,"  Sailing Directions,"  and  "Physical Geography of the Sea" remain standard . He became world-famous as the "Pathfinder of the Seas," the leading oceanographer of history. Following his resignation at the outbreak of the Civil War, he joined the Confederate Navy, in which he attained the rank of Commodore. At the end of the war he occupied the chair of physics at the Virginia Military Institute. He died at Lexington, Va., 1 February 1873.

Statistics for AKA-36:  displacement: 4,087 tons, length: 426ft. beam: 58ft draft: 16ft,  speed: 16.9 knots, complement: 303, class: Artemis,  T.S4-SE2-BE1

The third USN ship built with the name Maury was built under Maritime Commission contract, was launched as USS RENATE(AKA-36) by the Walsh-Kaiser Shipyard, Providence, R.I. 31 January 1945, and was sponsored by Mrs. Joseph L. Baker and commissioned 28 February 1945, with LtCdr. Joseph F. Wickham in command.

Renate sailed from Portsmouth, Va., 31 March 1945 for Pearl Harbor where she took on passengers and cargo destined for Eniwetok, Ulithi and Okinawa. Departing 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 Kyushu 1 September, mooring 16 days later at Sasebo, where she disembarked units of the 5th Marines. Completing another occupation troop lift, from the Philippeans 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 more "Magic Carpet" runs by mid-January 1946.

The next month she sailed for the East Coast, arriving at Norfolk on the 26th. In June she entered Portmouth Naval Shipyard for conversion to a survey ship and on 12 July was renamed USS 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 helopad, helicopter, drafting room and soundboats been provided topside. The boats would be used in charting positions and depths accurately, while the ships 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 waters around Truk and Kwajalein. Having added navigational knowledge of those areas she sailed for San Francisco, arriving 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, 10 August.

For the next 11 years Maury gathered navigational information with the Atlantic Fleet,  until 1952, her annual extended cruises of 7 to 8 months took her on survey missions to the Eastern Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf. In 1952 she began a re-survey of the Northern Atlantic. 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 abbreviated deployment, 3 February to 9 May. In July her Northern Atlantic re-survey 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 reguard to hurricanes.

Early in the Spring of 1959, Maury again passed through the straights of Gibraltar. Continuing on tho 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.

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 designted areas of the South Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. After Modernization at Pearl Harbor, she return to the Gulf of Siam in December with the USS Serrano(AGS-24). Working together, Maury concentrated on hydrographic survey, while Serrano gathered information on the physical and chemical makeup of the waters and the ocean floor. During their 1961, 1962 and 1963 7th Fleet tour, the oceanographic vessels charted and collected data on the Gulf of Siam, the Andaman Sea, the Straights of Malacca and areas of the Phillipeans.

In November 1962, while in Bangkok, the ship learned of wide typhoon devestation in Southern Thailand. Over 700 people were killed and 10,000 left homeless. Immediatly volunteering to assist, Maury delayed departure from Bangkok and loaded tons of rice, blankets, clothing and building materials in preparation for relief operations. Off-loading was conducted by the ship's boats which operated day and night negotiating dangerous inland waters to bring aid to the stricken Thai's. The warm gratitude extended by the local population gave ample testimony to a job "well done."

On 1 February 1965 Maury departed Pearl Harbor for a 4 month survey of the continental shelf off  Buenaventura, Columbia, Returning to Oahu 2 June, she began preparations including a month in dry dock for her return to South East Asia. Departing 15 November she soon commenced a 7 month survey of the coast of strife torn South Viet Nam. Concentrating on the Mekong Delta, Cam Ranh Bay, Nha Trang, Phan Rang and Vung Tau areas during that cruise returning to Pearl Harbor mid June 1966. During this 1966 deployment to Viet Nam, Maury produced Field Charts for the first time since World War II. For the first nine months of 1967, Maury was deployd again to Viet Nam. During this period Maury and her sound boats surveyed various mouths of the Mekong River and Nha Trang area. Fourteen Field Charts were constructed and reproduced on board depicting the results of both Maury and Serrano. These 1967 Field Charts were in four colors for greater ease in use. For this the Maury and Serrano were awarded the "Meritorious Unit Commendation"  from the Secretary of the Navy.

After return to Pearl Harbor she departed 29 March 1968 again for South Viet Nam surveying the area South of the Mekong  Delta while Serrrano surveyed the area North of Vung Tau returning to Pearl Harbor on  11 October 1968. The 1969 Cruise, Maury's last, was to the waters off  South Korea.  After completeing her last operational survey operations, off the  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 1969, off-loading fuel ammunition, and vehicles before shifting to the Inactive Ships Maintenance Faciality, Mare Island, Vallejo, Calif, later that same day. Decommissioned on 19 December 1969.  Her Final Deck Log Entry Reads, "0845 Ship Decommissioned". Custody passed to CO Inactive Maintenance Facility, Vallejo, Calif.  MAURY was Stricken from the Navy List the same day.  The ship remained at the Inactive Maintenance Facility until She was 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 She was sold  to the National Steel and Metal Co., of Terminal Island, Calif., on 10 August 1973 to be broken up for scrap.

For Her Efforts, MAURY earned a Meritorious Unit Commendation and six Battle stars for her service in the Viet Nam War.

Her efforts have added significantly to the knowledge of the characteristics of  the coastal area  in which Naval Forces conduct riverine warfare, amphibious operations and support land  forces with Naval Gunfire Support.

Compiled from the Dictionary of American Fighting Ships Office of Naval Operations, Naval History Division, Washington,DC. Review of Maury's Deck Logs, at the National Archieves, College Park, Md. various documents published aboard the Maury and interviews with over 200 ex-Maurymen.

Back To Home Page