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The Coast and Geodetic Survey Ship PATHFINDER at Seattle.

Steamer, length 229.3 feet, beam 39 feet, draft 15.5 feet. Built in 1942 at Lake Washington Shipyards in Houghton, Washington, at a cost of $1,265,448, the Coast and Geodetic Survey’s first million-dollar ship. In Navy service 1942-1947. In Coast and Geodetic Survey service 1946-1971. Sold to General Auto Wrecking Company, Ballard, Washington, for scrap in 1972.

Although built for the Coast and Geodetic Survey, it was first commissioned as a fleet survey vessel for the United States Navy on August 31, 1942. This ship is probably the most famous of all Coast and Geodetic Survey ships as it was said that “The road to Tokyo was paved with PATHFINDER charts.” The PATHFINDER was the first survey ship to have a chart printing press installed and turned out thousands of charts for fleet units during the war. Captain Junius Jarman of the Coast and Geodetic Survey was instrumental in developing techniques for chart printing in a shipboard environment. Admirals Nimitz and Halsey commended the PATHFINDER for work in the Solomon Islands, Green Islands, Marianas Islands, Philippine Islands, and Okinawa during the war. The ship was a lucky ship and survived over 50 bombing raids although working well in advance of the fleet on many occasions. While anchored on what is now named Pathfinder Reef in the Marianas Islands, the PATHFINDER was closer to Japan than any other U. S. Navy vessel. The ship was crashed by a Kamikaze at Okinawa and suffered one killed. Following the war, the ship was returned to the Coast and Geodetic Survey and surveyed throughout the North Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea. Besides Pathfinder Reef, the ship is commemorated by Pathfinder Seamount.

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.

Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

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