USNS Grasp: Specialized Salvage and Rescue Vessel

The USNS Grasp commands a unique respect in the entirety of the US navy ships’ fleet. The vessel’s original purpose of construction intended it to be a part of the US naval salvaging fleet (Safeguard classification) under the name, USS Grasp.

In the year 2006, however the vessel was reassigned the specialised salvaging and rescuing wing of the United States naval forces and its name was changed to its present titular reference, the USNS Grasp.

USNS Grasp

Built in the year 1983 by the shipbuilding company Peterson Builders located in the province of Sturgeon Bay in Wisconsin, the vessel’s operational efficiency is rated very highly. This factor stems from the fact that both the vessel’s construction and its contents of technological equipment are state-of-the-art and aid in any kind of salvaging and deepwater tugging operations.

US Navy Ships: USNS Grasp Features and Specifications

  • The USNS ships belong to a special cadre of US navy ships, referred to as the ‘Military Sealift Command.’ At present, the cadre of USNS ships supports four navy vessels totally, one of which is the Grasp.
  • Grasp measures 255 feet lengthwise with a beam of over 50 feet and a draft of around 15 feet. Like all other naval ships of its ilk, the Grasp’s frame is well fortified to be successfully utilised for icy operational conditions.
  • With two propellants aided by four diesel engine systems, each generating over 4,000 HP of power each, the vessel offers speeds touching up to 14 knots
  • The vessel’s crew entourage includes both naval officers and non-naval marine personnel, to a totality of about 100 members
 The navy ships engaged in the US naval fleet’s salvaging operations are responsible for not just other naval vessels, but also civilian vessels that require tugging and other necessary emergency aid. The USNS Grasp bears the unique distinction of undertaking several such noteworthy commissions both as an active vessel of the Safeguard fleet and later on, as a reassigned vessel to the Sealift Command wing of the US navy.

USNS Ships: Technical Characteristics

  • Two solid booming spars, one located near the Grasp’s bow and the other at its stern help the vessel to achieve really substantial towage weights. The former booming spar has a capacitance to heave around seven-and-a-half tonnes, while the latter has a capacitance to heave about 40 tonnes of required towage.
  • The vessel’s diving apparatuses and arena is one-of-its-kind. Diving capacitance from the vessel is to a depth of about 200 feet. Specific treatment cells to treat depressurising as a side-effect of sub-water diving are also available within the USNS Grasp.
  • The nautical ropes passing through the vessel’s bitt pull system are extremely firm helping to tug and heave towage of comparably huger capacitances. To support the bitt pull system, additional windlass systems have also been placed to be used accordingly.
  • In entirety, the pride of the US naval ships has a total towage stowing arena of over 21,000 cubic metres. This statistics of towage capacity makes the Grasp one of the rarefied US navy ships to possess such a huge towage stowing space.

Noteworthy Undertakings

In the year 2010, following the Haiti earthquake, the navy ship was one of the navy vessels commissioned to undertake constructional activities to ensure the easy passage of nautical aid to the disaster-hit country. Following the dictate of its commissioning, the vessel was appropriately staffed with reputed marine engineers and architects to monitor and oversee the constructional project.

The most important feather in the cap of USNS Grasp however promises to be its involvement in the unearthing of the famous US navy vessel, the Bonhomie Richard. Bonhomie’s skipper, John P. Jones, is known to have purposefully sunk the vessel following a prolonged skirmish with the British war-vessel HMS Serapis in the year 1779. And though it’s well-documented that the vessel sank into the depths of the North Sea, its actual geographic location is still unknown and remains a mystery. If the Grasp succeeds in this quest to unearth Bonhomie Richard’s position, a 200-year old mystery will soon see the light of the day.


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