USNS Maury to be Renamed in Honor of Geologist Who Mapped Atlantic Ocean

March 8, 2023 10:46 AM
Pathfinder-class ship USNS Maury (T-AGS 66) in 2016.

A Pathfinder-class oceanographic survey ship, named after a Navy oceanographer and a former Confederate, will now bear the name USNS Marie Tharp (T-AGS-66), the Navy announced late Wednesday.

The survey ship will be named after Marie Tharp, the first person to create scientific maps of the Atlantic Ocean, according to a Wednesday Navy news release. The ship was previously named after Matthew Fontaine Maury, who is considered the father of oceanography. Maury, who also had a building at the Naval Academy named after him, resigned his commission in order to join the Confederacy.

“I’m pleased to announce the former USNS Maury will be renamed in honor of pioneering geologist and oceanographic cartographer, Marie Tharp. Her dedication to research brought life to the unknown ocean world and proved important information about the earth, all while being a woman in a male-dominated industry,” Del Toro said in the release.

Marie Tharp Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the estate of Marie Tharp

The ship is currently in the Persian Gulf and is assigned to the Military Sealift Command, according to the Navy release.

Tharp worked at the Lamont Geological Observatory after receiving her master’s degree in 1944. While at the observatory, she met Bruce Heezen, who is the namesake of USNS Bruce C. Heezen (T-AGS-64). Heezen and Tharp worked together to locate downed military aircraft during World War II.

After the war, the pair used depth measurements of the Atlantic Ocean recorded by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute research vessel Atlantis to create maps of the Atlantic, according to the release.

While creating the maps, Tharp found evidence of continental drift – a theory that was not accepted at the time – which was later used to help develop the Plate Tectonic Theory.

The National Geographic Society awarded Tharp the Hubbard Medal, which is its highest honor.

The ship will undergo slight renovations in order to transition from Maury to Marie Tharp. There should be little effect on the crew, according to the release.

Maury is the second ship to be renamed by the Navy after the Naming Commission, created by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, recommended a name change. Former USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) is being renamed after Robert Smalls, USNI News previously reported.

The Naming Commission also recommended that two buildings at the Naval Academy, including one also named after Maury, be renamed. So far, Del Toro renamed the building named after Maury to Carter Hall.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
Follow @hmongilio

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