USS Compass Island (AG-153) (ex-MA 26, GARDEN MARINER (YAG 56)
Thursday, August 16, 2012 0:37 AM
Compass Island (E-AG-153) was launched 24 October 1953 as a fast cargo ship SS Garden Mariner by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey and sponsored by Mrs. H. A. Smith. Acquired by the Navy 29 March 1956 and commissioned 3 December 1956, Commander J. A. Dare in command.
CDR Dare, James Ashton Dec. 1956 - Dec. 1958
The USS Compass Island: One of a Series of Columns By ION Historian Marvin May
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 USS Nautilus (SSN-571), using the Shipboard Inertial navigation 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. Those that served on the USS Compass Island affectionately refer to the ship as the " C I ".
During the 1960's Renwal Model Company developed a model of the USS Compass Island. Today at times you might find the model on EBAY. The last going price was around $325.00. The model is not that accurate to the real ship. The model displays fins, this is a correct item. The model shows SSM-N-8 Regulus on the model. The CI did not have these. It is documented in All Hands, a US Navy Magazine that a missile was fired from the deck of the USNS Observation Island (T-AGM-23) (ex-EAG-154, Empire State Mariner) the Compass Island's sister ship. The model has wings on the bow below the water line, the real ship did not. and the real ship did not have as many mast and booms as shown on the model. The helicopter landing pad is correct.
( 1969 Welcome Aboard the Compass Island Document ) Most information about the USS Compass Island is almost nonexistent. Maybe this is due to the mission of the Compass Island. One can search forever and find very little about this ship that has a great deal of history about her. It is documented about the USS Compass Island that was involved in the rescue of the Schooner Curlew in 1962. You can find that the USCGC Mendota (WHEC-69) In 15 November 1962, Mendota assisted the disabled schooner Curlew 90 miles (140 km) northwest of Bermuda. But there is no mention of the CI. There is a great more detail located here at http://www.sailcurlew.com/history.html about the Compass Island's rescue of the Curlew.
The Compass Island also took part in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
1963 - The first operational multibeam sounding system was installed on the USNS Compass Island. This system, and other multibeam sounding systems that have evolved since, observe a number of soundings to the left and right of a ship's head as well as vertically allowing the development of a relatively accurate map of the seafloor as the ship proceeds on a survey line.
In 1968 the CI was involved in the search for the USS Scorpion (SSN-589) which is documented in the novel Scorpion Down by Ed Offley. In the book are reports from some personnel that were on board the CI during that time.
UPDATE: 15 AUG. 2012
Search for Scorpion - Parisi, Hank (IS)
E-Mail Just in. from - Stephen Johnson (Author) Re: Compass Island/USS ScorpionFrank,
The Report on The Search for the USS Scorpion was prepared at the behest of the Chief of Naval Operations and is a fascinating and slightly technical document.
I believe it mentions Compass Island's effort in dropping SUS (sound underwater signal charges) soon after the Columbia University hydroacoustic data from Puerto Naos, La Palma in the Canary Islands was found to have SOFAR signals acquired from Scorpion's loss.
(I'm going on memory since my book encompassed 600 interviews and roughly 11,000 pages of documents.
However, Bowditch was on the scene early and the SUS charges provided a benchmark for determining that the Columbia University Hydroacoustic Station Canaries (CUHSC) signals were genuine.
The entire true story is amazing and full of detail of the efforts of the real folks who broke rules and worked night and day to finally locate Scorpion.
I may not be able to pull the Report out of my archives anytime soon since they're in storage but don't hesitate to remind me.
In addition, pass along my email to any who may have been involved in the operations on CI in 1968. Something tells me they won't remember that they were the ones who "discovered" Scorpion's wreckage. That would take another four months.
CI skipper Capt. Joe Bonds was seriously angry at the false claims in Scorpion Down. (A second even more ridiculous book with a competing conspiracy theory was written entitled "All Hands Down.) You think these fiction writers would have more imagination.
At last word he was hale and hearty and nearing 90 in retirement in Florida. He was a great guy. He even drove across Florida to confront Mr. Offley and call his book a pack of untruths.
By the way, a perusal of the reviews of my book will provide some insight on how serious my work is.
We're in the middle of processing some of the original acoustic data that the U.S. Navy has apparently lost. It has reappeared after 40 years in a desk drawer and has been analyzed by a former member of the Office of Naval Intelligence Acoustic Analysis Division.
We have a full report that we can provide if any of your members are interested in it.
We also have a 250-member discussion group composed of many folks from the naval service, the submarine force and around the world.
We're all fighting to keep the history straight in memory of the 99 who died.
Stephen Johnson See my book here:
Send me an E-Mail if you want to contact Stephen Johnson I do not post E-Mail addresses on my site unless it is public domain or approved ny the individual.
|1970 Color Postcard from the USS Compass Island (AG-153) Post Office is at the right.
During the 1970's the Compass Island continued to operate up and down the east coast from the Arctic Circle to Devils Triangle visiting places like Port Everglades, Nassau, Bahamas, and Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
|The Compass Island during 1970, 1971, 1972 the Home Port was Brooklyn Naval Shipyard, Pier J, Brooklyn, New York. During this period the USS Compass Island was the only active duty Navy Ship in Brooklyn. There was also a US Naval Reserve Destroyer located at another pier. In the photo on the right was taken between 1973 and 1974 at Pier J. The photo right shows the Super-Tanker Brooklyn next to the USS Compass Island. You can see the 20mm gun mounts port and starboard on the rear of the helicopter landing deck. These gun mounts were installed at the Charleston Naval Shipyard in 1971 port and starboard - fore and aft.
|Across from the USS Compass Island on the other side of Pier J were 3 US Navy Aircraft Carriers that were decommissioned. They were the USS Boxer (CV-21), the USS Essex (CV-9), and the USS Randolph (CV-15). During our stay in Brooklyn, the USS Boxer (CV-21) was sold and scrapped in 1971. Rumor around the Compass Island was that the Gillette Razor Blade Company purchased the USS Boxer (CV-21). This is the only photo that I know of that was taken of the 3 carriers together with Steve Fuller on the deck of the Compass Island.
|While in Home Port, we the crew assigned to the CI did not realize we were a witness to history. We were privileged to witness the World Trade Center Twin Towers being constricted. No one could have imagined that those 2 large structures would be destroyed 30 years later.
11 December 1974 the USS COMPASS ISLAND (E-AG 153) completed overhaul at Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Hoboken, NJ.
|Well, Here we go again, Everyone gather on the fantail as we pass the Big Green B-!-!-!-h for the last time. With the crew of the USS Compass Island AG-153 it was a tradition to gather on the fantail of the CI and as we pass the Statue of Liberty we would throw our hats to the lady. We had our own name for her though. then we would head up the East River and dock at Pier J.||
Sailor's throwing their hat at the Statue of Liberty on their Last Cruise.
The fate of the famous CI has finally come to an end. See the 'Ghost Ships' on Teesside. This is the last picture pieced together from satellite photos from Virtual Earth at Teesside in the United Kingdom waiting to be scrapped. As you can see the "CI" looks in very sad shape. COMPASS ISLAND: “…has no cathodic protection and has topside decks and houses that are heavily corroded causing leaking into interior spaces. There is a moderate amount of fuel on the ship (2,125 barrels).”