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Silas Bent


Silas Bent born on 10 October 1820 in St. Louis, Mo.-was appointed midshipman at age 16 and served in the Navy for the next 25 years, during which he became well versed in the science of oceanography. He crossed the Atlantic five times, the Pacific twice, rounded Cape Horn four times and the Cape of Good Hope once. He was serving in Preble in 1849 when that brig sailed into Nagasaki, Japan, to secure the release of 18 shipwrecked American sailors imprisoned by the Japanese. He was flag lieutenant in Mississippi, Commodore Perry's flagship during the expedition to Japan between 1852 and 1854, and he made hydrographic surveys of Japanese waters. The results of his survey were published by the government in 1857 in Sailing Directions and Nautical Remarks: by Officers of the Late U.S. Naval Expedition to Japan. In 1860, Lt. Bent was detailed to the Hydrographic Division of the Coast Survey, but resigned from the Navy on 25 April 1861 at the outbreak of the Civil War, apparently because of Southern sympathies. He returned to St. Louis upon resigning from the Navy and took up the management of his wife's estate. Lt. Bent died on 26 August 1887 at Shelter Island, Long Island, N.Y., and was buried in Louisville, Ky.


(AGS-26: dp. 2,580 (f.) ; l. 285' 3 "; b. 48'; dr. 15'; s. 15 k. (tl.) ; cpl. 44; cl. Silas Bent)


Silas Bent (AGS-26), an oceanographic survey ship, was laid down in March 1964 by the American Shipbuilding Co. at Lorain, Ohio; launched on 16 May 1964; sponsored by Miss Nancy M. McKinley and Mrs. Jeffrey R. Grandy; and was delivered to the Military Sea Transportation Service (now the Military Sealift Command) in July 1965.


Silas Bent-the first of a new class of oceanographic survey ships-is manned by a Civil Service crew and operated by the Military Sealift Command as an integrated system for the gathering of vital oceanographic data in both underway and on-station modes. The data she collects is recorded in a form immediately usable by computers. She is under the technical control of the Naval Oceanographic Office in Suitland, Maryland.


The oceanographic survey ship completed her shakedown cruise during the winter of 1965 and 1966. Since that time, she has been conducting oceanographic research primarily in the northern Pacific, between Alaska and Japan. In May 1968, after only six days on station, she and scientists from the Naval Oceanographic Office located an ammunition-laden Liberty ship sunk in the North Pacific. In 1972, she visited Japan, for the 2nd annual Ocean Development Conference held at Tokyo. During the conference, there were numerous tours and briefings held on Silas Bent describing, for the ocean scientists of the world, her capabilities for measuring bathymetric depth, magnetic intensity, gravity, surface temperature, seismic reflection, sound velocity, ambient light, and salinity. As of mid-September 1974, Silas Bent is engaged in special operations in the area of Kodiak, Alaska.



Silas Bent (AGS-26), on builder's trials, July 1965.