Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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  • Boats-Ships--Support Ships
  • Intelligence
  • Recreation
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  • Artifact
Wars & Conflicts
  • Cold War
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Location of Archival Materials

USNS Observation Island (T-AGM-23) Paper Cranes 



Title: Sailor Art Origami Paper Cranes USNS Observation Island
Accession #: NHHC 2014.030.009
Circa: 2014
Size: 10.75 x 16 x 2.5
Medium: paper
Location: Headquarters Artifact Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command

One lot of 28 origami cranes folded by crew on USNS Observation Island. The cranes are made of paper in a variety of colors. The cranes are attached to a shallow white box with four blue cranes attached to the exterior of the box and two attached to the reverse side of the box.

As a forward deployed ship based out of Japan, The USNS Observation Island (T-AGM-23) was tasked with electronically monitoring compliance and verification of strategic arms treaties using a passive electronically scanned array radar. The ship averaged 260 days a year at sea. While at sea, the sailors would learn origami to pass the time. This display of 28 origami paper cranes was on the bridge of the ship at the time of its inactivation in 2014.



The USNS prefix stands for United State Naval Ship and classifies the ship as a non-commissioned ship belonging to the US Navy. They are unarmed auxiliary or support ships, commanded by a civilian crew in non-commissioned service. The class of USNS is operated by Military Sealift Command. In contrast, the USS prefix stands for United States Ship. The USS designation marks a ship that is armed, crewed by US Navy personnel, and held in property by the United States government.

Published: Tue Nov 13 14:42:04 EST 2018