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Compass Island

(EAG-153: displacement 18,000 (f.); length 563'; beam 76'; draft 26'; speed 20 k.; complement 214; class Compass Island)


An island in Penobscot Bay off the coast of Maine.

Compass Island (EAG-153) was launched 24 October 1953 as Garden Mariner by New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.; sponsored by Mrs. H. A. Smith; acquired by the Navy 29 March 1956; and commissioned 3 December 1956, Commander J. A. Dare in command.

The first mission of Compass Island was to assist in the development and evaluation of a navigation system independent of shore-based and celestial aids, a necessary adjunct of the ballistic missile program. She operated along the eastern seaboard testing equipment and training personnel until 13 March 1958 when she sailed from New York for experiments in the Mediterranean, returning to New York 17 April to resume her east coast operations. A dramatic example of her work was provided when Nautilus (SSN-571), using the Shipboard Inertial Navigational System tested by Compass Island, made a submerged cruise beneath the Arctic ice pack touching exactly at the North Pole 3 August 1958. On 10 September 1958 Compass Island entered New York Naval Shipyard for overhaul and installation of additional navigational equipment to be tested. With this new equipment, she continued her east coast and Caribbean cruising through 1960.

Compass Island was decommissioned on 1 May 1980 and entered the James River Reserve Fleet on 4 September 1980. The Navy withdrew her from the reserve fleet on 17 November 1981 for stripping, then returned her to MARAD oversight on 15 July 1982 to be held for "Special Purpose." The ship was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 31 March 1986, and returned to MARAD as part of the James River Reserve Fleet on 4 September 1989. In 2003, the ship was slated to be scrapped by Able UK. 

Published: Wed Mar 08 10:39:21 EST 2023