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TAGS 51 John McDonnell
Survey Ship

Two oceanographic ships survey the sea bottom and collect hydrographic data, charting three-fourths of the world's coastlines. USNS John McDonnell (TAGS 51) and USNS Littlehales (TAGS 52) make it easier for navigators to find their way along well-traveled and not-so-familiar shipping routes. The John McDonnell class of survey ships carries 34-foot survey launches for data collection in coastal regions with depths between 10 and 600 m and in deep water to 4,000 m. A small diesel is used for propulsion at towing speeds of up to 6 knots. SIMRAD high-frequency active hull-mounted and side scan sonars are also carried.

Survey Ships gather data which provides much of the military's information on the ocean environment. Oceanographic and hydrographic survey ships are used to study the world's oceans. 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. Military Sealift Command's Special Missions program supports worldwide oceanographic programs with ships which perform acoustical, biological, physical and geophysical surveys.

Dyn Marine Services of Virginia, Inc.(DMS) a unit of DynCorp, manages, operates, and maintains these ships for the Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) in Mississippi. DMS provides logistics, operations, engineering, and manning support for these US Naval oceanographic ships which are coordinated from the DMS Reston office. The ships are operated worldwide conducting ocean surveys at the direction of NAVOCEANO, with Commander Military Sealift Command (COMSC) acting as the Administrative Command.


Builder Halter Marine Moss Point, Miss
Power Plant 1 GM EMD 12-645E6 diesel; 2,500 horsepower (1.9 MW) sustained;
1 shaft
1 auxiliary diesel; 230 horsepower (172kW);
Length Overall Length: 208 ft
Waterline Length: 190 ft
Beam Extreme Beam: 42 ft
Waterline Beam: 42 ft
Draft Maximum Navigational Draft: 14 ft
Draft Limit: 14 ft
Displacement Light Displacement: 1394 tons
Full Displacement: 2238 tons
Dead Weight: 844 tons
Speed 12 knots (13.8 mph)
Crew 22 civilians plus 11 scientists


Name Number Builder Homeport Ordered Commissioned Decommissioned
John McDonnell T-AGS 51 Halter Atlantic 10 Nov 1988 15 Nov 1991
Littlehales T-AGS 52 Halter Atlantic 10 Nov 1988 10 Jan 1992

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Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Updated Tuesday, November 30, 1999 11:45:47 AM