H. H. Hess Class
Hydrographic Survey Ship:
Laid down, 10 August 1963, for the
American Mail Lines as
the SS Canada Mail,
1 of 2 type (C4-S-1sa)
Break-Bulk Cargo Ships
The other was SS Oregon Mail,
now the SS Ocean Phoenix
operating out of Seattle WA.
Specifications: Length 563' 8" Beam 76';
Displacement 16,828 t. Speed 20 kts.
PASSENGERS: 12 in 8 STATE ROOMS
Propulsion: Steam w/ two boilers geared.turbine,.single.screw,.19,250shp
American Mail Lines of Seattle Washington: operated between the Pacific Northwest and ports in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Okinawa, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Vietnam. Cargoes bound for the East Asia were usually loaded in Vancouver, British Columbia; Seattle, Tacoma, and Longview, Washington; and Portland, Oregon.
Click image of Brochure, far upper/right
to view passenger accomodations.
The Canada Mail was built as the containerization revolution was still getting underway. Aside from possible stowage on deck, no provision was made in its design for the transport of standardized cargo containers, and it remained a purely break-bulk cargo ship while in commercial service. Maritimeblog
1975 the Canada Mail was acquired by MSC for
conversion to an oceanographic research ship. The alterations
largely internal and below the waterline. Outwardly, the vessel
little changed. It was renamed the USNS H. H. Hess after
scientist in the field of oceanography, and designated T-AGS-38. The
ships new role was deep ocean research. It was expected to stay
underway for as long as 34 days, charting the oceans topography and
features using multi-beam sonar. Much of this work was done
support of the Trident Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine Program.
served the Navy for nearly 20 years. In 1992, Hess was
from service and placed in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet. The ship
declared non-retention in 1994.
USGS Sea Floor Mapping: This technology developed for World War II included the fathometer, an echo sounding device that instantly measured depths to the sea floor enabling troop ships to move into shallow water. Once transport commander, Harry Hess, made a habit of running his ship's fathometer continually. A geologist and Princeton Professor in civilian life, Hess wanted to learn more about the topography of the sea floor. He soon discovered that the ocean floor was not level as expected but was instead dotted with flat topped mountains, which he named "guyots." Hess was perplexed by how these mountains formed. Their flat summits could seemingly be explained by wave erosion, but why, then, did the guyots lie so deep underwater? Hess thought he saw a clue to this mystery when he observed that the deepest guyots lay farthest from the mid-ocean ridge system.
The mission of the Ocean Survey Ship (T-AGS) is to conduct ocean surveys and provide essential geophysical bathyrretric, gravity and geomagnetic) and other scientific data. No provision was made for survivability features except for water washdown and damage control surveillance in accordance with regulatory and Military Sealift Command (MSC) requirements. To reduce vibration and acoustic interference, the engines are mounted on rafts, isolated from the hull by rubber cushions [as is done on nuclear submarines].
The mission survey system is a highly complex, integrated navigation, bathymetric, and data refinement system that produces high-accuracy charts of bathymetry, gravity, magnetics, and other geophysical parameters in support of the Trident Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine Program. The system features a multi-beam, wide-angle precision sonar for continuous charting of a broad strip of ocean floor under the ship's track. The system is operational on four deep-ocean survey ships: the USNS Maury (T-AGS 39), USNS Tanner (T-AGS 40), USNS H. H. Hess (T-AGS 38), and USNS Wyman (T-AGS 34). The Ocean Survey Program (OSP) has a BRICKBAT 01 priority, the Navy's highest, and is in a continuous evolutionary phase to maintain the highest state-of-the-art in survey capability and productivity.
T-AGS ships had a regularly scheduled deployment cycle consisting of a mission up to 34 days at sea at a constant speed of 20 knots, followed by a 6 to 7 day period in port. A 45 day biennial yard period with a mid-period 30 day yard period in intervening years is scheduled for maintenance.
The objective of the T-AGS Ship Acquisition Program was to acquire the ocean survey ships for gathering geophysical data. An Initial Operational Capability (IOC) of late FY 87 is desired. A cost target of $262.OM was established for the two ships. The program experienced considerable delays. The keels were laid in 1986, with original delivery dates projected in early 1988. Problems with mounting of the propulsion system, reduced shipbuilder manning and unexpected problems during builders trials combined to result in deliveries in March 1989 and July 1990. In the bill making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1992, the Congress provided up to $75,000,000 was available for payments pursuant to settlement of Public Law 85-804 claims for T-AGS 39 and T-AGS 40. GlobalSecurity.org
A VIEW INSIDE H.H.HESS: During inspection by: Nathan Menefee U. S. Coast Guard Article: themaritimeblog.com
Mr. Menefee had a rare glimpse inside one of the boilers on the USNS H.H. Hess. Even the untrained eye might notice that something doesn't seem quite right. What you are seeing [in the article] is the melted interior of the starboard Foster-Wheeler propulsion boiler on board this ex. hydrographic survey ship. This is a rare sight because keeping one’s boiler from melting is usually one of the fundamental operating principles in any steam plant. Some how, some way, the machinery watch on the H.H. Hess allowed this spectacular casualty to take place sometime in late 1991 or early 1992. I’m not certain exactly how this happened, but it definitely appears that lack of water was probably the prime culprit.
2010 The Benicia
Herald By Donna Beth Weilenman Staff
The USNS H.H. Hess is slated to be pulled from the fleet on Jan. 14. The Hess was a ship that changed careers from merchant vessel to service with the Military Sealift Command. Launched in 1964 and originally named the SS Canadian Mail, it first was part of the American Mail Lines fleet. The ship was acquired by the U.S. Navy in 1977, renamed the USNS H.H. Hess, and converted to a hydrographic survey ship in preparation for its change of purpose. It served in the MSC until l992 and received Navy Battle E Ribbons and a national Defense Service Medal before it was deactivated and towed to Suisun Bay. It was withdrawn from the Ready Reserve Fleet in 2003. After failing to qualify as a historic ship in 2006, it was designated for disposal either by dismantling or as a target for live fire practice.
by: WESTAR MARINE SERVICES
The tug towed H. H. Hess down along
the Pacific coast to the Panama Canal .
The Hess continued up to Brownsville Texas
Just like she towed the
USS TALUGA AO-62
S.S. Ocean Phoenix Page has moved to: