by the Office of NOAA Corps Operations
has been a respected ship name within the United States Coast and
Geodetic Survey and today's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
for close to a century. This name was meant to convey the spirit of
the vessel and its work.
Coast and Geodetic Survey Ship PATHFINDER in the Philippines
in the early 1900's. This was the first PATHFINDER.
PATHFINDER was built at Crescent Shipyard in Elizabethport, New Jersey,
and launched December 7, 1898. It was a three-deck steel vessel with
fifteen water-tight compartments, was 196 feet 3 inches overall, 33
feet 6 inches beam, drew 13 feet when fully loaded, and was powered
by 4500 feet of canvas and a triple-expansion steam engine capable
of 1,173 horsepower. The vessel cruised between 11 and 13 knots. This
vessel had been designed for operating in the Aleutian Islands.
1, 1899, the PATHFINDER sailed from the shipyard with a Coast and
Geodetic Survey officer in command and a crew of 65 Navy enlisted
personnel. The ship proceeded to the West Coast via the Straits of
Magellan and arrived in San Francisco on September 17 after many port
calls along the way. Its first work was in the Hawaiian Islands in
the winter of 1899-1900. The 1900 and 1901 working seasons were spent
in the Aleutians, but because of the urgent need for up-to-date charts
in the recently acquired Philippine Islands, the PATHFINDER was ordered
to Manila following the 1901 field season. The ship sailed directly
to the Philippines from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, which must have been
quite a surprise to the crew. The first PATHFINDER spent most of the
next 40 years charting the waters of the Philippines until it was
finally lost as a result of a Japanese bombing raid in late 1941.
At that time, it was sailing under the name RESEARCH, which it had
been named after a period of inactivity in the 1930's.
PATHFINDER was under construction at Lake Washington Shipyards in
Seattle, Washington, at the outbreak of WWII. The keel was laid on
February 20, 1941, and the ship launched on January 11, 1942. Shortly
after launching the ship was transferred to the Navy for wartime use.
The second PATHFINDER was 229 feet in overall length, 39 feet in breadth,
had a loaded draft of 15 feet, and displaced 1,900 tons when fully
loaded. It was single screw, steam turbine powered, and capable of
generating 2000 shaft horsepower with a maximum speed of 15 knots.
was commissioned on August 31, 1942, and served in the Pacific war
from Guadalcanal to Tokyo Bay. Following the war, the vessel was returned
to the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey where it served until
1971 conducting surveys off Alaska, Hawaii, and the West Coast of
the United States. The following are personal accounts and historical
compilations of the illustrious career of the second PATHFINDER.
My office has been engaged in chronicling the history of NOAA Corps
and its ancestor organizations. In doing so, the theme of kinship
of NOAA Corps with the Naval community is encountered time and again.
In particular, our kinship with the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography
Command is striking. As such, on the occasion of the Change of Command
and Relieving Ceremony of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command
on board the USNS PATHFINDER (T-AGS 60), it is appropriate to share
an outstanding example of that kinship and cooperation. The example
that I have in mind is the saga of the USS PATHFINDER (AGS-1), also
known as the USC&GSS PATHFINDER (OSS 30.)
I directed my
staff to compile personal histories, official accounts, and non-official
published accounts of the PATHFINDER (this was the second C&GS
ship of that name; and, the vessel on which I served my first sea
duty) for compilation into a volume which I could share with our fellow
officers, scientists, technicians, and vessel operators of the Naval
Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NMOC). This resulting compendium
of PATHFINDER lore is primarily directed towards the WWII exploits
of the USS PATHFINDER, but it also traces the career of the vessel
through to its final decommissioning.
My wish is that
the USNS PATHFINDER have as an illustrious career as its namesake.
May the name PATHFINDER always evoke images of cooperation between
our organizations, thoughts of perils shared and hard work accomplished
together, and a reminder of our similar heritage.
are extended to Rear Admiral Paul G. Gaffney on the assumption of
command of NMOC. Likewise, I congratulate Rear Admiral John E. Chubb
for his conclusion of a successful tour of duty as the outgoing Commanding
Officer of NMOC and wish him well in his retirement.
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Rear Admiral Sigmund R. Petersen, NOAA
Director, NOAA Corps Operations