Pascagoula, Mississippi shipbuilder VT Halter Marine held a christening ceremony yesterday for USNS MAURY (T-AGS 66), the seventh ship in the T-AGS 60 Class of oceanographic survey ships built by VT Halter for the U.S. Navy.
In December 2009, VT Halter Marine was awarded a contract of approximately $87 million to build an enhanced version of the T-AGS 60 Class adding additional 24 feet in length to the previous design to accommodate a moonpool for deployment and retrieval of autonomous underwater vehicles.
Construction of T-AGS 66 began in September 2010; the keel laying ceremony was held in February 2011, and delivery is expected in January 2014. The vessel has been designed to perform acoustic, biological, physical, and geophysical surveys, and will provide the U.S. military with essential information on the ocean environment.
The ship’s sponsor is the Honorable Lisa P. Jackson, former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who as Administrator focused much of her efforts on the BP oil spill that ravaged the Gulf Coast area.
T-AGS 66 is named in honor of Cmdr. Matthew Fontaine Maury, nicknamed “Pathfinder of the Seas,” and also known as the “Father of Modern Oceanography.” The vessel is 353 feet in length with an overall beam of 58 feet, and will be operating under the Military Sealift Command.
Bill Skinner, CEO of VT Halter Marine commented on the occasion:
“We take great pride in our build history with the T-AGS 60 Class oceanographic vessels for the U.S. Navy. This vessel, the USNS Maury, is an enhanced version of the prior T-AGS. We are very pleased to host the christening ceremony for this impressive ship.”