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RV Horizon, ex Auxiliary Fleet Tug ATA-180, was a Scripps Institution of Oceanography research vessel from 1949 through 1968. During that time she made 267 cruises and logging 610,522 miles (982,540 km) spending 4,207 days at sea.[1]

USS ATA-180.jpg
United States
Name: ATA-180
Launched: 14 July 1944
Commissioned: 27 September 1944
Struck: 1948
Name: Horizon
Owner: Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Acquired: 1949
Fate: Sold c.1968
General characteristics
Tonnage: 505 GT
Displacement: 835 t.(lt) 1,360 t.(fl)
Length: 143 ft (44 m)
Beam: 33 ft 10 in (10.31 m)
Draft: 13 ft 2 in (4.01 m)
Installed power:
  • 2 × GM 12-278A Diesel-electric engines
  • Fairbanks Morse Main Reduction Gear
Propulsion: Single screw 1,200 shp (890 kW)
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Range: 7,000 mi (11,000 km)
Complement: 45
  • 1 × 3"/50 dual-purpose gun mount
  • 2 × 20mm AA gun mounts


ATA-180 was launched 14 July 1944, was commissioned 27 September 1944 and served in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. She was laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet and stricken from the Naval Register in 1948.[2]

Service historyEdit

As a tug the ship had an obscure history, without an entry in the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships and only the bare facts of her construction and deployment. The only mention of ATA-180 on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site is listing as part of Task Unit 1.2.7 (Salvage Unit)[3] at Operation Crossroads.

The ship became notable in her second career as one of the trailblazing postwar oceanographic research vessels beginning with her conversion in 1949.

Research career and significanceEdit

The ship was notable in the early days of national oceanography following World War II when small converted vessels began multiple expeditions for educational institutions, often under Navy sponsorship. Henry W. Menard notes "It is a rare senior oceanographer anywhere in the world who has not at least seen the ship" and compares her to the Soviet Vityaz and French Calypso active during the period.[1]

Horizon made the first of Scripps' deep sea expeditions, a joint Scripps Institution of Oceanography-US Navy effort in 1950 given the name Midpac, during which it was discovered that the sea floor was young. This discovery changed the conception that the sea floor was old and sediment filled and was an early lead to the current Plate Tectonics theory[4]

The ship's name is given to the Horizon Guyot (19°40′N 168°30′W / 19.667°N 168.500°W / 19.667; -168.500), Horizon Deep (23°15.5′S 174°43.6′W / 23.2583°S 174.7267°W / -23.2583; -174.7267), Horizon Channel (47°10′N 145°00′W / 47.167°N 145.000°W / 47.167; -145.000), and the Horizon Bank (13°10′S 173°35′E / 13.167°S 173.583°E / -13.167; 173.583). Horizon and Argo discovered and explored the Horizon Ridge (14°55′S 105°52′E / 14.917°S 105.867°E / -14.917; 105.86714°00′S 106°45′E / 14.000°S 106.750°E / -14.000; 106.750) during the 1962 Lusiad Expedition,[5] a part of the International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE).[6]


  1. ^ a b Menard, Henry W. (February 1974). "The Research Ship Horizon". California Digital Library. University of California.
  2. ^ Photo gallery of USS ATA-180 at NavSource Naval History
  3. ^ "Operation Crossroads: Composition of Joint Task Force One". Naval History and Heritage Command. Task Group 1.2 (Target Vessel Group).
  4. ^ "U.S. Navy Electronics Laboratory MidPac Expedition, 1950". California Explores the Ocean. University of California, San Diego.
  5. ^ "Lusiad Expedition, 1962". California Explores the Ocean. University of California, San Diego.
  6. ^ "IHO-IOC GEBCO Gazetteer" (pdf). General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans. September 2007.

External linksEdit