RV Horizon

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]

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 history

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 significance

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), Horizon Deep (23°15.5′S 174°43.6′W / 23.2583°S 174.7267°W), Horizon Channel (47°10′N 145°00′W / 47.167°N 145.000°W), and the Horizon Bank (13°10′S 173°35′E / 13.167°S 173.583°E). Horizon and Argo discovered and explored the Horizon Ridge (14°55′S 105°52′E / 14.917°S 105.867°E14°00′S 106°45′E / 14.000°S 106.750°E) 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 links

Horizon Guyot

Horizon Guyot is a presumably Cretaceous guyot (tablemount) in the Mid-Pacific Mountains, Pacific Ocean. It is an elongated ridge, over 300 kilometres (190 mi) long and 4.3 kilometres (2.7 mi) high, that stretches in a northeast-southwest direction and has two flat tops; it rises to a minimum depth of 1,443 metres (4,730 ft). The Mid-Pacific Mountains lie west of Hawaii and northeast of the Line Islands.

It was probably formed by a hotspot, but the evidence is conflicting. Volcanic activity occurred during the Turonian-Cenomanian eras 100.5–89.8 million years ago and another stage has been dated to have occurred 88–82 million years ago. Between these volcanic episodes, carbonate deposition from lagoonal and reefal environments set in and formed limestone. Volcanic islands developed on Horizon Guyot as well and were colonised by plants.

Horizon Guyot became a seamount during the Coniacian-Campanian period. Since then, pelagic ooze has accumulated on the seamount, forming a thick layer that is further modified by ocean currents and by various organisms that live on the seamount; sediments also underwent landsliding. Ferromanganese crusts were deposited on exposed rocks.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography (sometimes referred to as SIO, Scripps Oceanography, or Scripps) in La Jolla, California, founded in 1903, is one of the oldest and largest centers for ocean and Earth science research, public service, undergraduate and graduate training in the world. Hundreds of ocean and Earth scientists conduct research with the aid of oceanographic research vessels and shorebased laboratories. Its Old Scripps Building is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. SIO is a division of the University of California San Diego (UCSD). The public explorations center of the institution is the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Since becoming part of the University of California in 1912, the institution has expanded its scope to include studies of the physics, chemistry, geology, biology, and climate of Earth.

Dr. Margaret Leinen took office as Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Dean of the Graduate School of Marine Sciences on October 1, 2013.Scripps publishes explorations now, an e-magazine of ocean and earth science.


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