SIU members will continue sailing aboard seven oceanographic surveillance ships, following a recent government contract award to Ocean Shipholdings, Inc. (OSI).
The new operating agreement includes a series of one-year options and one shorter option that would extend it to mid-April of 2022. It covers the following vessels: USNS Maury, USNS Waters, USNS Bruce Heezen, USNS Pathfinder, USNS Bowditch, USNS Henson and USNS Mary Sears. Turnover dates for those vessels (all of which already carry SIU crews) are scheduled to start in mid-September and continue until around mid-January.
All SIU jobs are retained under the new contract.
Also known as T-AGS vessels, the aforementioned ships support worldwide oceanographic programs. According to the U.S. Navy, the vessels “gather data that provides much of the military’s information on the ocean environment. 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. Survey ships have charted three-fourths of the world’s coastlines, making it easier for navigators to find their way along both well-traveled and notso- familiar shipping routes.”
The USNS Maury, the newest of the T-AGS ships, is 353 feet long and can sail at 15 knots. It was built at VT Halter Marine and delivered in 2016.
The Pathfinder, Bowditch, Henson, Heezen and Mary Sears are 328.5 feet long and can sail at 16 knots. They were constructed at Halter Marine and had delivery dates ranging from 1993-2000.
The Waters, 457 feet long, was built at Avondale and can sail at 13 knots.
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