Military Sealift Command oceanographic survey ship USNS Henson (T-AGS 63) collects and analyzes oceanographic data that is used to support U.S. Navy warfighters.
Henson is a multipurpose oceanographic survey ship that conducts hydrographic, acoustic, oceanographic and bathymetric survey operations worldwide and is currently operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet.
“Henson is a multifunction ship,” said Steven Faber, Mine Warfare Fleet Support lead. “We provide data that assists in the decision making for everything from mine warfare to anti-submarine warfare.”
Data collected by Henson will be analyzed and utilized in numerous different products specifically requested by U.S. 7th Fleet to meet mission requirements.
“Henson paints a picture of the environment on the floor of the ocean,” said Brian Hartley, Henson’s data manager. “This is important because it gives warfighters the ability to make decisions based off timeline data the oceanographic survey ships like Henson have collected over the years.”
Henson was designed to provide multiple capabilities including physical, chemical and biological oceanography; multidiscipline environmental investigations; ocean engineering and marine acoustics; marine geology and geophysics; and bathymetric surveying. These capabilities provide an in-depth understanding of ocean conditions, which then helps prioritize search efforts in areas such as mine warfare.
“With the capabilities available to us in our equipment, we can understand how the environment and terrain affects the use of mine warfare in the future,” explained Hartley. “If we know an area is silt and the laying of a mine there would cause the mine to simply sink into the bottom, searching there would be more problematic, say, than for an area with sandy terrain and several hazards. That would be an area to really do an extensive search for mines in the future.”
Henson serves as a platform for surveyors with the Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO). NAVOCEANO has technical control of Henson and four other survey ships and uses a variety of platforms, including ships, aircraft, satellite sensors and buoys to collect oceanographic and hydrographic data from the world’s oceans. Henson is operated by the Military Sealift Command for the Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (CNMOC).
NAVOCEANO, the largest subordinate command within the CNMOC, is responsible for providing oceanographic products and services to all elements of the Department of Defense.