T-AGOR 14 Melville
These 279 ft oceanographic ships are operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography and by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for the Office of Naval Research. The ships are fitted with internal wells, underwater lights and observation ports, and facilities for handling small research submarines.
R/V Melville is one of the AGOR series, built in response to the Navy Tenoc (Ten year plan for oceanography) in the 1960's. After experience with use of the earlier ships in the series, a number of users proposed that there should be some major modifications of design that would correct all of the observed deficiencies in R/V T-AGOR 10 Thomas Washington. As originally sketched, it was about 170 feet long, with a high bridge amidships for good visibility ahead and of the working decks astern, a wide beam, an open stern and side working area, and extremely good maneuverability using multiple thrusters. It grew during planning, and by the time the Navy's working drawings were done, it was much larger and had cycloidal propulsion instead of twin-screw and thrusters. Two ships of this design were built: Melville in 1969, and Knorr (for WHOI) in 1970, under the supervision of a Scripps yard team.
These two older AGOR ships, R/V MELVILLE (AGOR 14) and R/V KNORR (AGOR 15) were stretched, upgraded and returned to full operation in 1992. The refit, expected to take 6 months, lasted for 1.5 years, culminating in cost overruns, claims, and lawsuits only solved by a special act of Congress. The primary problems stemmed from asbestos.
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