About the Corsair

The first Corsair in the U.S Navy was built as the private yacht Corsair II in 1899 for J.P. Morgan, and was acquired and commissioned by the Navy four times: as USS Corsair (SP-159), as USC&GS Oceanographer (OSS-26), as USS Natchez (PG-85), and then again as USS Oceanographer (AGS-3).


(AGS-3: dp. 1,963; 1. 293'; b. 33'; dr. 17'; s. 14.7 k. cpl. 146; a. 2 3") '

Oceanographer (AGS-3), formerly Corsair II, was built in 1899 by W. and A. Fletcher Co., Hoboken, N.J. Except for a brief period of commissioned service during World War I, she served as a luxury yacht for J. P. Morgan until 1930. After lowering financier Morgan's pennant, the "floating castle" served with the Coast and Geodetic Survey, as Oceanographer.


She was acquired by the Navy from the Coast and Geodetic Survey at Norfolk, Va. 7 April 1942, briefly renamed Natchez (PG-85); renamed Oceanographer (AGS 3); rerigged and outfitted at Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. for survey duty; and commissioned 15 August. Work was completed 28 August and Comdr. Henry B. Campbell, USCGS, assumed command, with Lt. Comdr. Myron W. Graybill, USN, as Executive Officer.
After shakedown in the Chesapeake, Oceanographer steamed for New York 3 October to join a convoy enroute Cristobal, C.Z. She transited the Canal, and at San Pedro, Calif., reported for duty to CINCPAC. Upon completion of repairs at San Pedro, she got underway for Seattle, Wash. She encountered a severe storm off Astoria, Ore., necessitating further repairs at Winslow Marine Railway Co., Bainbridge Is., Wash. Proceeding to Kodiak via the Inside Passage, she reported to the Alaskan Command with no sound or radar gear, a very short cruising radius, and limited potable water capabilities, considered generally unsuitable for Aleutian duty.

Oceanographer returned to Seattle 25 December 1942 for additional repairs. After towing a YCV from Seattle to San Francisco, she was assigned to the Matson Navigation Co. for repairs. Comdr. Graybill assumed command 2 March 1943 and the following day Oceanographer got underway for Pearl Harbor, where sound gear was installed and necessary alterations made.

The survey ship departed Pearl Harbor escorting several LSTs and plotted a course for Noumea, New Caledonia. As her first war zone assignment she surveyed Havannah Passage, New Caledonia. Upon completion of the Havannah Passage charts the ship made three other surveys in the vicinity of Noumea, erecting numerous beacons and planting many buoys. On 1 November she proceeded to Guadalcanal via Espiritu Santo to produce charts of that island's northern coast. She also surveyed Munda Bar and neighboring anchorages at Munda, New Georgia, B. S. I. At various times subchasers and APCs assisted in the surveys and dispatched triangulation parties to islands in the vicinity.

During her sixteen months in the South Pacific, Oceanographer produced fifteen charts, each requiring from one to three million soundings. Much of the data compiled was the first of any accuracy for the area, and it contributed greatly to the sueeess of many amphibious operations.

Ordered to Pearl Harbor 3 June 1944 for badly needed repairs, she was sent on to San Pedro, Calif. 27 June. Upon completion of arrival inspection, it was decided to decommission and scrap her. Oceanographer was decommissioned 22 September, was struck from the Naval Register 14 October, and, in accordance with the agreement executed with J. P. Morgan, Jr., broken up for scrap.

Historical Context

Important People


Thumbnail Biography of J.P. Morgan from the Biography Resource Center Electronic Database:

1837-1913. American banker and financier, b. Hartford, Conn. Son of Junius S. Morgan; apprentice with representatives of his father's firm in London and New York (1857-60); New York agent for this firm (1860-64); member, Dabney, Morgan & Co. (1864-71) and Drexel, Morgan & Co. (1871-93). Formed J. P. Morgan & Co. (1895) closely linked with Drexel &Co. of Philadelphia, with Morgan, Harjes & Co. of Paris and J.S. Morgan & Co. of London. Best known for his government financing, for his breaking of Jay Cooke's government bond monopoly(1873), for his reorganization of important American railroads, and for his industrial consolidations, esp. formation of United States Steel Corporation (1901). Enjoyed great prestige as symbol of financialstability; renowned as collector of art and rare books; president, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. Benefactor of the Cathedralof St. John the Divine, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Public Library, New York hospitals, and many other institutions.His son (1867-1943), b. Irvington, N.Y., succeeded to his father's position as head of J. P. Morgan & Co. (1913); agent of Allied governments in floating large loans in U.S. during World War I; floated $1.7 billion in loans for postwar reconstruction. The elder Morgan's daughter (1873-1952) was a noted philanthropist; with Mrs. August Belmont founded (1909) Working Girls VacationSociety (from 1922, America Women's Assoc.; president, 1928-43); founded (1917) American Friends for Devastated France andcollected over $5 million for French relief; first Americanwoman made commander of Legion of Honor (1932); organized (1939) American Friends of France.
for more in-depth information on J.P. Morgan, click here: http://infotrac.galegroup.com.proxy5.noblenet.org/itweb/mlin_n_phillips?db=BioRC
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In the OWH Library Collection:
The house of Morgan; a social biography of the masters of money, Corey, Lewis.
New York, G.H. Watt, 1930.
How Wall Street created a nation : J.P. Morgan, Teddy Roosevelt, and the Panama Canal, Diaz Espino, Ovidio.New York : Four Walls Eight Windows, c 2001