PG 84 Asheville
Beginning in 1967, the newly built Asheville-class patrol gunboat (PG), designed specifically for coastal operations in the Third World, made its first appearance in Southeast Asia. That March, Commander Coastal Squadron 3 began surveillance of South Vietnam's coast with Gallup (PG 85). Coastal Flotilla 1 was then created to direct the operations of this unit and the new Coastal Squadron 1, with Asheville (PG 84) and Crockett (PG 88). The 165-foot PGs, capable of 37-knot speeds, carried one 3-inch/.50-caliber gun forward, one 40-millimeter gun aft, and four .50-caliber machine guns. At first plagued by mechanical and repair part replacement problems, the shallow-draft and well armed PGs became a useful resource.
The ATHENA Research Ship System was created to support a broad range of sea-based research, development, test, & evaluation (RDT&E) programs. This program consists of three Ashville class patrol gunboats - two of which have been converted to support RDT&E testing and one scheduled for conversion to support the Integrated War Ship Demonstration Program. The vessels possess special equipment for support of various programs, including laboratories, instrumentation, and a unique air-masking system, found on no other vessel. This air-masking system is considered essential in developmental tests of towed acoustic arrays. The vessels possess electronics lab and after deck areas with specialized handling equipment, and flexibility for modifications to support a variety of test projects.
Athena I & II, have seen extensive service in the development of high speed towed sensors, airborne mine countermeasures, communication systems, and full-scale validations of model predictions for propeller wake surveys and propeller stress studies. The Lauren, a sister ship to the two Athenas, can be configured to evaluate HM&E technologies at a large scale.
Athena is a converted PG-84 Asheville-class patrol gunboat. Built for the U.S. Navy in 1969 at Tacoma Boat as USS Chehalis (PG-94), she was converted to a high-speed research vessel in 1976. The hull and structural framework are aluminum alloy, and the superstructure is fiberglass over an aluminum framework. Since Athena was built as a high-speed patrol gunboat, she was engineered to be as lightweight as possible and constructed under high standards of quality assurance.
Because of her combination of diesel or gas turbine propulsion, Athena is well suited for low- or high-speed operations. To enhance Athena's capability in taking high-speed acoustic data, she can be fitted with a compound air masker system (CAM), which greatly reduces the ship's radiated noise. She has been modified extensively as a Research Vessel to include: laboratory space with a dedicated power source, deck crane, and A-Frame. A variety of towing winches and handling equipment is available as required.
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