The fourth U.S. Navy ship named for Matthew Fontaine Maury, astronomer and hydrographer, was born in Spotsylvania County, Va., on 14 January 1806. Appointed a midshipman on 1 February 1825, he achieved the rank of commander on 14 September 1855. He was appointed Superintendent of the Department of Charts and Instruments in 1842, and upon the establishment of the Naval Observatory in 1844 became its first superintendent, holding that position until his resignation in April 1861. During this period he published some of his best known scientific works, and his “Wind and Current Charts,” “Sailing Directions,” and “Physical Geography of the Sea” remain standard. He became world famous as “Pathfinder of the Seas,” the leading U.S. oceanograpber. Following his resignation at the outbreak of the Civil War, he joined the Confederate Navy, in which he attained the rank of commodore. At the end of the war he occupied the chair of physics at the Virginia Military Institute. He died at Lexington, Va., on 1 February 1873. For additional information see Matthew Fontaine Maury Benefactor of Mankind at http://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/m/matthew-fontaine-maury-benefactor-of-mankind.html. In addition, fishing steamer Commodore Maury served in a noncommissioned status as S.P. 656 during World War I; and fast patrol craft PCF-2 served during the Vietnam War — in 1996 she was awarded to Tidewater Community College, Va., as a research vessel and renamed Matthew F. Maury.
(T-AGS-66: length 353'; beam 58'; draft 18'; speed 16 knots; complement 51; armament none; class Pathfinder)
The fourth Maury (T-AGS-66) was laid down on 1 February 2011 at Moss Point, Miss., by Halter Marine, Inc.; launched on 27 March 2013; sponsored by Mrs. Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency; completed her acceptance trials in the Gulf of Mexico on 6 November 2015; was delevered to the Navy on 16 February 2016; and is scheduled to be placed in service with the Military Sealift Command (MSC) in 2016.
The MSC’s Special Mission program supports worldwide oceanographic programs with ships like Maury that perform acoustical, biological, physical, and geophysical surveys. These ships 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 detecting enemy ships. Maury will have three multipurpose cranes and five winches, plus a variety of oceanographic equipment including multibeam echo-sounders, towed sonars, and expendable sensors that will enable her to continuously chart a broad strip of the ocean’s floor.
Detailed history pending.
Mark L. Evans
17 December 2015