Hydrographic Survey Ships (AGS)

Photograph of USN Bowditch (hydrographic survey ship)

U.S. Navy photograph

A serious difficulty with naval operations in the Pacific was the lack of good hydrographic charts. In some cases, the only available charts were British Admiralty charts dating from the 19th century.The Allies considered this situation intolerable, and significant resources were allocated to mapping and surveying. Although submarines and aircraft were used for these tasks in enemy territory, the gold standard for hydrographic charting remained specialized vessels equipped for pinpoint navigation, sounding, and sweeping.

The Japanese, Australians, and Americans commissioned a number of hydrographic survey ships. During the Buna campaign, Australian survey sloops Stella, Polaris, and Whyalla surveyed and buoyed a channel three miles wide throught the reefs from Milne Bay to allow coastal ships to safely bring in supplies. In the U.S. Navy, hydrographic survey ships often accompanied invasion forces to perform immediate surveying of the area being invaded.

Japanese hydrographic survey ships


U.S. hydrographic survey ships


Australian hydrographic survey ships



Blair (1975)

Morison (1950)

The Royal Australian Navy of World War II (accessed 2008-3-14)

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