UPDATED Friday, January 21, 2011 8:57 PM
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USS Compass Island - Helicopter Rescue
I was a helicopter pilot with HC-4 out of Lakehurst, NJ. On Wednesday, October 6, 1965 I was on temporary duty at Norfolk when NAS Norfolk got a distress call from the duty officer at Atlantic Fleet. The USS Compass Island had a medical emergency. A CPO was seriously ill and needed immediate med-evac to Norfolk. My fellow pilot, Bob McCauley, and I took off in our Kaman UH-2B. We had no idea what type ship the Compass Island was, whether it had a flight deck and what they had for radios. It was night. It was raining. We got a bearing and distance from Norfolk. We had a course and speed for the ship which was West. They were coming to meet us. When we were almost to the intended location we had no radio contact with the ship. We descended down to 500 feet. Somebody on the ship had a good idea and they shined a really big spotlight straight up. We soon saw a glow in the distance. Then it became a light beam.
We anticipated hoisting the patient to our helicopter. Then we flew over the ship and saw that tiny flight deck and lots of space forward of the flight deck. There was all kinds of room. We landed and the crew passed us a Stokes litter with the Chief all wrapped up in blankets. Our door closed and the Chief was in a warm cabin. We didn't know your standard procedures, but we did know you had no jet fuel aboard. We checked that there were no tie-down chains attached to our helicopter and took off for Norfolk. The time on deck was less than a minute.
In such situations it is tempting to go flat out, full speed to get there as soon as possible, but that burns a lot of fuel. You don't want to run out of fuel five miles off the beach. We flew at maximum range power settings until we had it made, then kicked it into high gear. We landed with the low fuel light on. An ambulance was waiting and the Chief survived his medical emergency. I have no idea what the Chief's name was. I'm not sure what his emergency was; appendicitis., pneumonia? Don't know.
I was researching something on HC-4 last night and saw the USS Compass Island in my logbook. That flight MAY have been the longest distance rescue by a UH-2B at the time. We had two external fuel tanks and we were topped off when we left Norfolk. The local Kaman Tech Rep heard about our rescue of your Chief and Kaman Aircraft Corp. awarded our crew the Winged K which is for saving a life with a Kaman helicopter.
I went on to fly 556 missions with HA(L)-3 in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
I just Googled USS Compass Island, got this E-mail address and hope this one incident contributes to your ship's history.
Have a fine Navy day!
\ /, / >./ For those that have fought for it,
\ /, _/ /. Freedom has a flavor the protected
\_ /_/ /. will never know.
/<<< \_\_ Roger W. Ek
/,)^>>_._ \ Seawolf 25 VHPA 3377
(/ \\ /\\\ Gentleman Flyer of the Delta
// ```` China Post #1, AL, In Exile VVAK
====((`===== firstname.lastname@example.org OWLS Molon Labe
E-Mail Just in. from - Stephen Johnson (Author) Re: Compass Island/USS Scorpion
Hey Everyone. I am reading Scorpion Down by Ed Offley. It has a lot about the CI in there. Those of you that were on the CI in 68-69 and on the Cruise to hunt for the USS Scorpion (SSN-589) Drop me a line here and tell me your story. Seems the CI arrived in port May 24th 1968 at 0930hrs. from the western Caribbean and left at 1830hrs. that same day to hunt for the Scorpion.
New INFO. 1-28-2009 - I am sorry that I haven't added your photos on here yet. I have been busy working on my 40th reunion as you can see from the home page. I am also doing webpage work for the Centerville Alumni Page. I am also updating the Compass Island WIKI page located here at this link.
I will get to them I promise: they are really great photos.
I am in the process of adding more photos that have been sent to me from several of you our there, Thanks again for the photos.
Well, What do ya think of the CI Page? Drop me a E-Mail with your thoughts. Frank
|NEW ITEMS ADDED|
USS Compass Island AG-153 - REUNION
|Thanks to those who have sent photos. PAGE ADDED for USER SUBMITTED PHOTO'S. click icon photos|
|RESCUE of the Curlew by the USS Compass Island AG-153 - at bottom of the page|
|Visitors Page - A list of visitors to the CI Web Pages -|
I have some new photos that I will be in the process of putting on the webpage. 14-OCT-08 update
I started out to find a photo of the " CI ", not much luck. I also know that just about every sailor buys a camera. I will add photos if I revieve any.
When I started searching around the net you could not go to 1 place and get any history on the " CI " and there was not much to find anyway. With her history being what it is I thought I would try and collect as much information about her as I could and post it here for all of us and the rest of the world to see and for us to show how proud we were to serve of her.
Photos taken of the Compass Island AG-153, A Little History that I have found also. I am trying to find photos taken 1970-1972 and scans from the 1970-1974 cruise book.
E-Mail me at email@example.com
There 202 members of the CI at Military.Com, and 27 members at Classmates.Com You have to join, its's free.
This is all the NVR has on her. They could't even put her length, width, weight on there site.
Info From Navy Vessel Register
|Status:||Disposed of by Navy title transfer to the Maritime Administration||Homeport:|
|Date status changed:||04/09/1993||Berth:||James River Reserve Fleet, Fort Eustis, VA|
|Award Date:||Age (since delivery) (At time of disposal):|
|Keel Date:||Commission Date:||12/03/1956|
|Launch Date:||Decommission Date:||05/01/1980|
|Years from Commission to Decommission:||23.4|
|Overall Length:||Waterline Length:|
|Extreme Beam:||Waterline Beam:|
|Maximum Navigational Draft:||Draft Limit:|
|Light Displacement:||Full Displacement:|
|Number of Propellers:|
|Custodian:||MARITIME ADMINISTRATION (NATIONAL DEFENSE RESERVE FLEET)||Ships Program Manager:|
Info From Check-Six Online Museum Sea / Nautical Wing
Shipboard Inertial Navigational System Bedplate from the USS Compass Island, AG-153
Compass Island (EAG-153) was launched October 24,1953 as the "Garden Mariner" by New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.; sponsored by Mrs. H. A. Smith. It was 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.
On January 25, 1980, as part of its phase-down operations, the "Compass Island" completed operational support as a navigation test ship for the Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) Program. Its role would be assumed by the USNS Vanguard (TAGM-19). On May 1st of 1980, the "Compass Island" was decommissioned. She was held in reserve until 1993, when she was transferred to the James River Reserve Fleet in Virginia until the direction of the Maritime Administration. In 2003, she was sent to England for scrapping.
Flag Hoist/International Radio Call Sign:
November - Papa - Whiskey - Golf
Copy of ALL HANDS Article September 1975. Click on the Photo to Read.
View the Compass Island (E-AG-153) DANFS history entry located at the US Naval Historical Center.
Click the photos for a larger view.
Compass Island (E-AG-153) underway during sea trials in 1956, place unknown.
US Navy photo from "All Hands" magazine, February 1957. Joe Radigan MACM USN Ret.
Compass Island (E-AG-153) underway, date and place unknown.
US Navy photo from "All Hands" magazine, July 1959. Joe Radigan MACM USN Ret.
Compass Island (E-AG-153) underway, date and place unknown.
US Navy photo from "All Hands" magazine, January 1960. Joe Radigan MACM USN Ret.
Compass Island (E-AG-153) mooring with the assistance of a tug, , date and place unknown.
US Navy photo from "All Hands" magazine, September 1975. Joe Radigan MACM USN Ret.
Compass Island (E-AG-153) underway, date and location unknown. Stan Gaines BMC USN Ret
Compass Island (E-AG-153) Dry-dock bow photo, Photographer unknown
Compass Island (E-AG-153) Dry-dock stern photo, Photographer unknown
"The Hartlepool Four" left to right;
ex-Canopus (AS-34), and
ex-Compass Island (E-AG-153) awaiting the beginning of the end at Able UK, Hartlepool, Teeside, England, 4 March 2006. Scrapping is on hold due to environmental concerns. Photo by David Nixon
Last 4 Photos taken in England before being scrapped. Ghost Ship Website http://daverob.catalyst2.com/GhostShips/GhostShips.html
Click Photo for larger image.
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A selection of images from the arrival of the second 'Ghost Ship' Canisteo on the Tees on 13th November 2003, followed by some views of the Caloosahatchee and the Canisteo in the Able UK dock at Graythorp, Hartlepool on 15th November. Finally there are some shots of all four ships (Caloosahatchee, Canisteo, Canopus and Compass Island) taken on 13th December 2003 in brighter conditions.
This was a major news story on Teesside. Able UK of Graythorp (nextdoor to Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station) has won a contract to safely decommission and recycle 13 retired US Navy ships built during WW2 and previously moored on the James River, Virginia. However, the UK Environment Agency has withdrawn Able's licence to scrap the ships. The first ship, the Caloosahatchee arrived on November 12th and these picures here are of the second ship, the former USS Canisteo AO 99, a 10,700 tonne refuelling tanker, which arrived on November 13th.
The third ship the Canopus arrived on November 27th and the fourth ship the Compass Island was due to arrive the following day but was delayed until 3rd December. Able UK need to apply for a waste disposal licence and hope to begin dismantling the four ships by spring 2004, this could lead to the creation of 200 jobs.
For the latest news go to our local newspaper's site, the Evening Gazette's icTeesside 'Ghost Ships' page.
Place mouse over thumbnail to see description text.
Click on the thumbnail to see the full size image.
This page last updated 13th December 2003.
The USS Compass Island: One of a Series of Columns
By ION Historian Marvin May
Unique ships have played a major role in navigation history. The USS Compass Island, pictured below, was built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation as a fast cargo ship and launched in 1953 as the SS Garden Mariner. The ship was converted by the New York Naval Shipyard and commissioned in 1956 to serve as a research vessel in the Polaris Fleet Ballistic Missile Program. The ship had a length of 564 feet and a displacement of 18000 tons. Its 19500 horsepower single screw engine provided a cruising speed of 18 knots with a cruising range of 16800 nautical miles. It had a complement of 18 Naval officers, 240 enlisted men and 33 civilian scientists. The primary mission of the USS Compass Island was to advance the development of navigation systems for the Polaris and Poseidon FBM ships through operational research, development and evaluation. The Compass Island program operated under the direction of the Strategic Systems Project Office with the technical support and guidance of the Naval Strategic Systems Navigation Facility. The contributions of this ship to the development of ship’s navigation is most vividly indicated by her specific achievements.
The ship was used initially for the conception of the FBM navigation system methodology where the inertial navigators are supported by computerized information fusion developed from other types of navigation data. Early exercises were used to calibrate the Broad Ocean Area Missile Impact Location System and establish Polaris operational readiness. Generations of Ship’s Inertial Navigation Systems, celestial trackers, navigation computers, speed logs, gravity meters, radio aids and sonar devices were tested. Early at-sea gravimeters were pioneered on the ship including demonstrations of the first at-sea compensation of vertical deflection effects. Shipboard evaluations of the Electrically Suspended Gyro, still the bulwark of precise inertial navigation, were conducted in the late 1960’s. Numerous advanced inertial calibration and perturbation techniques were demonstrated employing state-of-the-art computational algorithms. Extensive testing of the Navy Navigation Satellite System (TRANSIT) was accomplished in the mid to late 1960’s. During the same period comprehensive evaluations of early Omega, Lorac and Loran-C radionavigation systems were performed. Precise gravity and bathymetric ranges were established which were used to evaluate geophysical navigation map matching techniques. In the early 1970’s, Phase 1 GPS receivers were tested and initial GPS-INS integration methods were exam-ined. In 1980 the Compass Island was mothballed and replaced with the USNS Vanguard (TAG 194). In 1998, the USNS Waters replaced the Vanguard as the Navigation Test Vehicle and still serves as a multipurpose vehicle performing the additional duties of the Flight Test Support Ship tracking FBM shots.
The Compass Island played a major role in educating the scientists and engineers who developed and tested the navigation equipment in the practical aspects of at sea operation. It also provided invaluable stimulation and lasting memories for at least one navigation historian.
Categories: Submarine, Missions, Books, This Day In History, Deep Submergence Vehicles, Russian Submarines
On this day, October 28, 1968, the USNS Mizar (T-AGOR-11) towed her magnetometer and cameras over a sunken wreckage two miles below. Two days later the United States Navy declared to the world that the sunken USS Scorpion (SSN 589) had been located.
A recently published book, by Ed Offley, Scorpion Down, Basic Books, 2007 provides convincing, compelling, and conclusive primary source accounts that the Mizar’s October 28, 1968 “discovery” was nothing more than an elaborate “cover story”, by senior Navy and government officials, to obfuscate the fact that the wreckage had been located months earlier on June 9, 1968, by the USS Compass Island (EAG 153)1.
To submarine fiction readers Scorpion Down will read like a submarine thriller that drops depth charge after depth charge until the truth about Scorpion’s sinking is finally forced to surface.
To USS Halibut (SSN 587)2 submariners it will read like a detailed x-y grid plot of a target area after years of patient passes in a very dark sea, which finally promises to illuminate the target and enable recovery ... of the truth.
Offley has left many actively pinging transponders on a carefully constructed high probability, narrow confidence band grid of targets. I suspect it will not take 25 more years to recover documentary evidence of the truth about Scorpion's3 sinking.
Map Showing Compass Island's Search Track Beginning June 9, 1968
1. In the world of intelligence, especially military intelligence, especially superpower military intelligence it is actually very difficult and expensive to slow the relatively short half-life of a secret. Human actions will always belie randomness and thus secrecy, so intelligence officials use cover stories to explain the human non-randomness. Or as John Craven, technical coordinator of the Mizar’s Scorpion search might say: an ideal cover story must always be true and explain every aspect of non-random behavior with respect to the secret(s) being protected.
According to Offley’s compelling case the ultimate secret sought to be protected is that the former USSR intentionally torpedoed and sunk the USS Scorpion, on May 22, 1968 at 1644 (4:44 pm local time) in retaliation for the earlier US sinking of USSR’s K-129 submarine. The cover story used by senior Navy and government officials was intentionally or unintentionally articulated by Craven. Craven maintained and reasserted to Offley that the USS Scorpion sank as a result of an internally exploding torpedo (hot-running torpedo).
Later, when images (Navy and Ballard) of the sunken Scorpion showed no sign of an internal explosion the cover story was tweaked, by the USS Scorpion’s board of inquiry to say that the hot-running torpedo was jettisoned by crew members and then spontaneously locked on and sunk the Scorpion.
Offley conclusively demonstrates that senior Navy and government officials responded to the Scorpion’s sinking within hours of its May 22, 1968 sinking. This fatally torpedoes and sinks the official cover story. The old cover story cannot be tweaked, amended or salvaged, Craven's assertions notwithstanding – it has been fatally and conclusively blasted out of the water.
Offley, having successfully sunk the Scorpion’s cover story goes on to construct a theory of why Navy and government officials covered up the fact that they had begun the Scorpion search within hours not days and located the wreckage within days not months of its sinking. In this effort Offley is less successful. He unnecessarily complicates his theory by weaving in the Walker spy ring, North Korea’s proxy piracy of the spy ship USS Pueblo (AGER-2) and Russia’s access to submarine crypto gear, KLB-47, KWR-37, and KW-7.
2. Offley incorrectly associates hull number 575 with the USS Halibut (SSN 587). Submarine hull number 575 belongs to Halibut’s sister ship the USS Seawolf (SSN 575). In Offley’s book the Seawolf was scheduled to participate in upcoming NATO exercises in the then volatile Mediterranean. However, system failures forced Seawolf into the shipyard and Scorpion took her place for the Mediterranean NATO exercise.
As noted above Halibut figures into Offley’s book as the submarine that located the sunken Russian submarine K-129. According to Offley’s book Scorpion was sunk in retaliation for America’s earlier sinking of K-129, which Halibut then located and photographed. The CIA subsequently salvaged the K-129 submarine using the USNS Glomar Explorer (T-AG-193) – remember the manganese nodules cover story?
America honored a prior Russian request to provide evidence that the K-129 submariners recovered in the salvage operation were given a proper at sea burial. America presented Russian President Boris Yeltsin with photos of the sunken K-129, the at sea burial ceremony, and the flags used during the at sea burial of the recovered K-129 Russian submariners.
3. Another book on the USS Scorpion by Kenneth Sewell and Jerome Preisler, All Hands Down: the true story of the Soviet attack on the USS Scorpion, Simon and Schuster, 2008 is schedule for publication around April 15, 2008 (Sewell is also co-author, with Clint Richmond, of Red Star Rogue: the untold story of a Soviet submarine's nuclear strike attempt on the U.S.).
The Model from RENWAL Extremly hard to find and very expensive compared to the orginal price. This is not mine, it is an add from someone else so that you can see the CI's history..
| 1/500 S606-149 Renwal USS Compass Island Experimental Ballistic Navigational Ship
VG Injection Molded old
Very rare. In the 1950s, the US Navy began a program called the "Fleet Ballistic Missile". Since missiles of the day had short range, it made sense to sail Navy ship within range and fire missiles from them. Nothing had ever been done like this before, so a special research ship was converted from a "Mariner" class cargo vessel. The USS Compass Island was the US Navy's experimental forerunner of ballistic missile-launching vessels. She was commissioned at the New York naval Shipyard on December 3, 1956. Displacing 17,000 tons, the Compass Island was designed to assist in the development of SINS, or the Ship Inertial Navigational System. Missiles can only hit targets if they know exactly where they were launched from. This early system was a distant relative of GPS, the Global Positioning System. The ship carried the usual crew in addition to many scientists. She was equipped with Regulus I missiles for testing as well as many other instruments from research on navigation done at the Instrumentation Laboratory and MIT. The Compass Island was also equipped with the Sperry Gyroscope Company's new Gyrofin Ship Stabilizer. These are included in the model and move as the real ones did to keep the Compass Island from rolling. Each fin provided 3,000 foot-tons of lift and reduced this motion by 90%. This kit is highly detailed, very finely molded and includes the Regulus I missiles and launcher. The kit has not been started and has been inventoried 100% complete with all parts, decals and instructions. NOTE: Although the kit is complete, there are several broken parts. Here is the list: small anti-aircraft guns - several broken barrels and broken base on one (all included). 2 Kingpost/Booms and Crane - broken booms (included). Lifeboat cabins - broken but all parts included. Helicopter - 1 main rotor broken and tail rotor (all parts included). Hull - chip at bow and stern (see photo). The parts are included for the hull, but there are many chips. It would be easier to simply putty the chips in.
Email for availability.
RESCUE of the Curlew by the USS Compass Island AG-153
Click to read all about the CURLEW
On Sunday November 11, 1962, Curlew left mystic Seaport Ct. bound for the Carribean where she was to go into charter service. Skippered by Captain David Skellon, an Englishman, and first mate Ed Owe, a Connecticut sailor, she set off in a fresh norwester.
The two of them were the only deep water sailors aboard, so they had to take turns night and day at the helm as the weather worsened. By Wednesday morning the wind was northerly at about force ten, and Curlew was running under bare poles.
A number of troubles had already developed, the most serious being the failure of the breaking screw that kept the proper shaft from turning, and a bad leak in the propeller shaft packing. The bilge pump operated by the main engine seemed only just capable of keeping ahead of the leak.
The storm steadily increased during Wednesday and through the night. Curlew had entered the gulf stream, where the seas became more dangerous. In the second watch the following morning she suffered her first real broach, and was knocked flat on her beam ends for almost 3 minutes before she slowly righted. After straightening the yacht’s course out before the storm, the crew streamed a 3 inch diameter warp astern in a long loop, with drags lashed to it.
On Thursday the seas were higher than ever and the wind was estimated as gusting 75 – 80 knots. At 0700 a mountainous sea broke over the full length of the ship and stove in the main cabin skylight. As a result of mayday calls to Burmuda, Curlew was spotted by a search plane and at 1400 the 663ft. USS Compass Island (EAG 153) hove into sight.
Curlew maneuvered alongside under the lee of USS Compass Island, but in doing so broke her bowsprit and carried away her foremast in shrouds against the ship’s sides.
-Excerpts from Adler Cole’s "Heavy Weather Sailing"