USC&GS Surveyor (1917)

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USS Surveyor (1917)
Surveyor, possibly at the time of her completion in 1917
Career (United States) 100x35px U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey flag.png
Name: Surveyor
Namesake: A surveyor is a member of the profession of surveying, which determines positions on the earth's surface
Builder: Manitowoc Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Manitowoc, Wisconsin
Cost: $236,000 USD
Completed: 1917
In service: 1917 and 1919-1956
Notes: Served as United States Navy armed steamer USS Surveyor 1917-1919
General characteristics
Type: Survey ship
Displacement: 1,143 tons
Length: 186 ft (57 m)
Beam: 34 ft 3 in (10.44 m)
Draft: 12 ft (3.7 m)
Propulsion: Steam engine
Speed: 13.3 knots

The first USC&GS Surveyor was a survey ship that served in the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1917 and from 1919 to 1956.


Surveyor was built in 1917 for the Coast and Geodetic Survey by Manitowoc Shipbuilding and Drydock Company at Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and entered service with the Survey that year.

United States Navy service 1917-1919

Surveyor was transferred in September 1917 to the United States Navy, which armed her and commissioned her in October 1917 for World War I service as the armed steamer USS Surveyor. During 1918, she served at Gibraltar. After the war, she returned to the United States and was disarmed.

United States Coast and Geodetic Survey service 1919-1956

Surveyor in Prince William Sound in Alaska while in service with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.

The Navy returned Surveyor to the Department of Commerce on 31 March 1919 so that she could resume service in the Coast and Geodetic Survey. Departing the United States East Coast, she proceeded to the United States West Coast via the Panama Canal in 1919. For the next 36 years, Surveyor operated almost exclusively in the Territory of Alaska, working in the waters of the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea.

During her caeer, she had occasion to assist mariners in distress. On 25 May 1929, she rescued about 150 passengers and crew of the steamer Aleutian, which had struck a rock and sunk in Uyak Bay, Alaska; she transported them to Seward, Alaska. On 7 September 1929, she rendered assistance to survivors of the steamer Golden Forest, which was wrecked on Cape Ilktugitak; she located the wreck using radio compass bearings and took aboard two men from Golden Forest for medical treatment. On 31 July 1934, she assisted the steamer S.S. Otsego, which had grounded off Cape Mordvinof, Alaska.

Tragedy struck Surveyor's crew more than once during her operations. On 4 October 1927, two men from her crew -- Roy V. Beverly and George Slavin -- drowned at Resurrection Bay off Seward; another crewman, Seaman W. H. Bowen, drowned in a heroic attempt to save his two shipmates, and posthumously received the Department of Commerce Gold Medal. In 1936, she lost members of her crew on three occasions: John Martin, her ship's cook, died in a shipboard accident in January 1936; two members of a shore party -- Lieutenant, junior grade, Marshall R. Reese, USC&GS, and Quartermaster Max McLees -- drowned on 26 September 1936 when their boat overturned on the north shore of Unalaska Island in the Aleutian Islands; and Seaman Robert F. Stryker died in October 1936 when he fell off a cliff during survey operations on Unimak Island in the Aleutians.

During World War II in the Pacific (1941-1945), Surveyor conducted surveys in support of Allied military operations against Japanese forces in the Aleutian Islands.

Surveyor was retired from Coast and Geodetic Survey service in 1956.


Surveyor Bay on the coast of Unalaska Island in the Aleutian Islands is named for Surveyor.