Ocean Surveillance Ship, what is an Ocean Surveillance Ship and what is its mission? Well, according to the US Navy Fact Files, an Ocean Surveillance Ships are:
Ocean surveillance ships gather underwater acoustical data. The T-AGOS ships are operated by Military Sealift Command to support the anti-submarine
warfare mission of the commanders of the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets.
”  According to the same source, their mission is: “The two classes of surveillance ships use
surveillance towed-array sensor system (SURTASS) equipment to gather undersea acoustic data. The ships also carry electronic equipment to process and
transmit that data via satellite to shore stations for evaluation.


This type of ship started with the
Stalwart Class in 1984. Eighteen of these 1,565-ton (2,535-ton full load) ships entered service between 1984 and 1990 (T-AGOS 1
through 18). In addition to SURTASS, they also had towed passive sonar. Three (
Stalwart, Indomitable and Capable) were later converted for an anti drug sole,
landing the SURTASS and fitting air search radar and a tactical data link. All were out of service with the USN by 2004 but most are still around in an assortment of
missions. Two went to Portugal,
USNS Assurance became NRP Almirante Gago Coutinho A523 and USNS Audacious became NRP Dom Carlos I A522. One
was transferred to New Zealand as
HMNZS Resolution A14 and served until 2012 when she was sold to a civilian company.  Six were transferred to the civilian
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In a similar move the
USNS Bold became the EPA Bold for the Environmental Protection Agency. One
went to the US Army to become a Missile Range Instrumentation Ship at Kwajalein Atoll.
USNS Invincible went to the same mission but stayed with the Navy as T-
AGM-24.   
USNS Prevail became IX-537 Prevail as an unclassified Training Support Vessel with the unofficial designation of TSV-1, supporting various training
and other operations for the Atlantic Fleet. Three went to educational institutions with
USNS Stalwart going to State University of New York Maritime College in
New York City,
USNS Contender to Texas A&M University at Galveston as the T/V General Rudder and USNS Persistent to the Great Lakes Maritime Academy in
Traverse City , Michigan as the
T/S State of Michigan.  
On April 12,1988 the first of a new class of Ocean Surveillance Ship was laid down by McDermott Shipyards at Morgan City, Louisiana, when the USNS
Victorious
T-AGOS-19 was laid down. The Victorious Class is twice the displacement of the preceding Stalwart Class at 3,100-toms, 3,384-tons full load. Her
length is 235-feet (72m), with a beam of 94-feet (29m) and draught of 25-feet (7.6m). What strikes you is the very wide beam and deep draught for a ship of
235-feet length.  This because of the hull, which is built in a catamaran fashion called SWATH (Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull) with twin hulls bridged by the
deck and superstructure. The diesel-electric engines produce 1,600 horsepower for a maximum speed of 9.6-knots (17.8 kph). It has two shafts, one in each hull.
There is a crew of 19 from the Military Sealift Command and 5 from sponsors.
She was launched  May 3, 1988 and completed on August 13, 1991. USNS Victorious has been assigned to the Special Missions Program. In 2009 there were a
couple of incidents involving the
USNS Victorious and ships and planes of the People’s Republic of  China. On March 4, 2009 USNS Victorious was in the Yellow
Sea 120 miles from mainland China, a Chinese Bureau of Fisheries Patrol Vessel spent some time illuminating the
Victorious at close range and the next day the
Victorious was buzzed twelve times by a Y-12 Maritime Surveillance Aircraft, which was at 400-feet altitude and came withing 500-yards laterally.  In May 2009
Victorious was in heavy fog in the Yellow Sea and Chinese vessels got within 30 yards and at one time, one stopped directly in the path of Victorious, forcing her
to stop. Three more of the class followed the
Victorious, USNS Able T-AGOS-20, USNS Effective T-AGOS-21 and USNS Loyal T-AGOS-22, all of which are
still in service.
Dodo Models 1:700Scale USNS Victorious - The new 1:700 scale kit of the USNS Victorious by Dodo Models is actually labeled the USNS Victorious Class, as
any of the four ships in the class can be built from the kit. There are brass parts and decals for all four. This really is an unusual kit because of the catamaran form
of the ship. It can be built in either waterline or full hull format as the upper and lower hulls are divided at the waterline. The decision of which form to build will be
tough. Normally, I prefer to build 1:700 scale kits in the waterline format and 1:350 scale kits in the full hull format. However, with the
Dodo ModelsVictorious,
the two lower hulls have the appearance of torpedoes tapered fore and aft with shrouded  propellers for something totally different from your usual hull form. A
true catamaran usually has two very narrow hulls, expanding outward from the keel. However, this SWATH vessel has these streamlined tapered tubes for the
lower hulls. The kit is multimedia with resin parts, two relief-etched brass photo-etch frets, two decal sheets and instructions.

The upper hull casting is free of casting defects, no voids of any type and no damage. The only work that you have to do is remove the casting stub at the stern.
There is a rectangular pour stub on the transom stern and a crenelated extension of the quarterdeck. The ships have a flat transom stern spanning the two hulls and
there is no extension above the stern. These are just remainders of the casting process and are easily removed with moderate sanding. Given the twin hull design,
the upper hull is very angular. Hull bow, side and stern detail. On the bow are rectangular anchor hawse fittings and at the stern you have four portholes. Each side
has portholes at the top and discharge vents lower down. There is also a plate amidship at deck edge. Also at deck edge, each side has five small fittings that extend
outboard beyond the hull.        
The deck and integral superstructure are loaded with detail. The bridge (02) level has nicely done square windows on all sides with fittings on the crown and aft
bulkhead. The forward bulkhead/face slants forward. The 01 level of the superstructure is a cross-shaped structure with additional facets. Bulkhead detail on all
sides includes detailed doors and windows. On the deck aft to the rear of the bridge are the two funnels and a deck house on the port edge. On the starboard edge
there are locater lines for the RHIB cradles. With a wide flat forward edge instead of a long pointed wedge, the narrow forecastle is crammed with detail. There are
locater lines for the anchor windlasses, which are located outwards near the edge of the deck, so that the anchor chains run inward to the deck hawse, which are on
either side of centerline. To complement this unique arrangement, there are eight twin bollard fittings. Amidship, the deck detail includes half-moon fittings, locater
lines for the ships’ boats, and two fittings at deck edge on each side. A deckhouse separates the amidship area from the quarterdeck. This deckhouse has detailed
doors on the front, aft and port faces. There are also detailed acetylene bottles on the aft face. The quarterdeck continues with the detail with locater lines for the
large tow cable reel frame, lines for smaller half-moon reel covers, and lines for racks for barrel-shaped fittings or equipment. Cast on detail includes two slanted
half-moon reel covers, base supports for a raised deck aft, windlass bases, five twin bollards, and a fitting outboard on the port side. The lower hull parts have
casting stubs on their aft portion, which will need to e remove and hulls sanded. There is detailed engraved lines on the forward tip and attachment structures at the
top, which fit inside the upper hull for a secure attachment.
The other small resin parts come on five runners. Three of the largest parts are cast on a block with a raised casting platform. The large tow cable reel and two
propeller shrouds are on this runner. The raised casting platform makes it easier to remove the parts from the resin block. You cut the platform from the block and
then sand the residue of the platform from the parts. One small runner has additional lower hull parts with four fins and two propeller hubs. Medium size parts share a
runner A3 through A9), which includes detailed  RHIB, detailed cabin launches, radome, aft raised platform tow control deckhouse with detailed windows and door,
platform base, aft bulkhead for stern platform, and one part (A6), which I did not find on the instructions. A short runner has parts A10 through A14, which include
small communications towers on top of the bridge, ventilator, and searchlight. Another long runner has assorted small parts (A15 through A27), which include small
ventilators, anchor windlasses, crane base, funnel exhaust pipes, reel spools, small radome, small half-moon cable covers, and life raft canisters. With all of these
smaller parts, there was no flash. The only clean-up is to sand the bottom where they attached the runner.
The kit comes with two relief-etched brass photo-etch frets. With numerous brass platforms and towers, the brass photo-etch make this kit more complex than the
standard  model and therefore may be too complex for beginners in using  photo-etch. However, with the wealth of brass parts that covers this kit, it is certainly an
attractive build for almost anyone. Both frets have film protective covers that will need to be removed before removing the brass parts from the fret. Fret A covers
platforms, masts and towers with two stern platforms, large radome tower and platform, forecastle mast, foremast with signal lines and fittings, stern walkways.
Bridge platform and equipment, launch platforms, data communication faces, funnel ventilation grills, crane arms, stern light tower, equipment frames, whip
antennas, and large cable reel platform. The A fret also includes anchor chain, some railings, inclined ladders with rung steps instead of treads and relief-etched name
plats for all four ships in the class. The smaller B fret concentrates on railings, with about 2/3 of the fret covering the railings. Some railings have solid bulkheads as
part of them. Many have life buoys and/or solid plates. This fret also has four boat davit frames, propeller shroud frames, propellers and a small platform.
The model also comes with two sheets of decals. It should have been one sheet but the US flag on the main sheet had the blue quadrant off-register. Dodo Models
printed a small second sheet of just an American flag with the correct blue quadrant. The rest of the main decal sheet is very colorful and on register. Each of the
four ships in the class has four name designations. The top photograph in this review is one of
USNS Able. If you look closely, you will notice that there are two
stern names, one over each lower hull. The name also appears on the outboard side of each bow. There are numerous deck markings in white, yellow, red and
yellow & black. For the hull sides, in addition to the bow names, are draught markings and bow thrusters.

The instructions come on two back-printed pages. Page one has a plan, profile and bow view of the ship. Also on this page are the assembly icons, decal placement
locations and painting information. Page two starts with three subassembly modules for the radome tower, main stern platform and boat platform towers. This is
followed by two detailed drawings of attachment of resin and brass parts forward and amidship. Each resin part is RE followed by the number that is seen on the
resin runner. Similarly, each brass part is PE followed by the number of the part on the brass frets. Page three has two drawings as well and shows resin and brass
parts attachment amidship to stern. The last page finishes the resin parts attachment and covers lower hull assembly. The instructions are easy to follow but use
caution to not miss a part, as I didn’t find the attachment for the small resin part A6.         
Dodo Models presents an elaborate kit for an unique ship, the Ocean Surveillance Ship USNS Victorious or any of  her three sisters. With twin hull catamaran style
hulls, the ship is almost as wide as it is long. The 1:700 scale kit can be built in waterline or full hull format and provides a host of resin and brass photo-etch parts.
The
Dodo Victorious offers an intriguing build with a lot of photo-etch for the size of the hull.
Steve Backer
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