USNS Dutton TAGS-22
Oceanographic Detachment/Unit Two

Significant Operations

The AGI Vertikal Incident, c. January-September 1965
The 1972 US-USSR Incidents at Sea Agreement

For a period of some months, c. January to September of 1965, USNS Dutton was harassed by the Soviet Intelligence Trawler AGI Vertikal. Such harassment was common during the Cold War. Soviet "trawlers" lay in wait outside Fleet Ballistic Missle Submarine bases, violated nautical rules of the road to interfere with carrier flight ops, and followed ships like Dutton in an ultimately futile attempt to defeat her mission.

Soviet Naval planners had never considered what would happen when they sent one of their experienced intelligence gathering pirates up against the TAGS sailors of USNS Dutton. Glenn Krochmal's account of what happened is documented here on his commentaries page.

Contributions are from Rick Hollis and Glenn Krochmal, with additional material and commentary from EG Adams.

New York Times
April 3, 1965

The New York Times reports these incidents in an April 3, 1965 article, although as is usual for the Times it gets its facts wrong and calls the Dutton a "Cable Ship". The full article is at the top, the paragraphs related to Dutton on the bottom.

Submitted by EG Adams from the NYT archives, and by Glenn Krochmal.

Intelligence Trawlers
In Jane's Fighting Ships

The Vertikal and her sisters were variously described by Jane's Fighting Ships as "Intelligence Trawlers" or "Direction Trawlers". They were equiped with electronic communications intelligence equipment and operators, and charged with intercepting the communications of American ships, especially when those ships were operating under warlike or emergency conditions. There could be no doubt the Rooskies knew just what a TAGS was and what it was doing (we steamed in straight lines, back-and-forth, back-and-forth, and made loud noises underwater), plus Jane's Fighting Ships published our essential mission, although not the particulars.

Copies of Jane's Fighting Ships entries subitted by EG Adams.

Russian Intelligence Trawler
AGI Vertikal

Photographed by PH1 Fred Martin from USNS Dutton in 1965.

Contributed by Glenn Krochmal.

RAF Avro Shackleton MR.3

The RAF Avro Shackleton MR.3 maritime patrol aircraft, which buzzed the AGI Vertkal in response to Dutton's distress calls. The Brits have always been the good guys (after 1814, that is!).

The aircraft was identified for the TAGS site by Clare Carr, Assistant Curator, Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, UK

Photographed by PH1 Fred Martin from USNS Duttton, 1965.

Contributed by Rick Hollis.

AGI Vertikal

The forepart of Vertikal. Photographed by PH1 Fred Martin from USNS Duttton, 1965. Fred was promoted to PHC for his fine photographic work. Unfortunately we have only digital scans of xerox copies of copies of Fred's original work. Oh, to have the negatives!

Contributed by Rick Hollis.

AGI Vertikal

The bridge of Vertkal. Just visible in deep shadow in the port bridge window is a Vertikal crewman with a pair of binoculars to his eyes. Standing on the port wing is another crewman, possibly holding a camera. Contributed by Rick Hollis.

AGI Vertikal

Another Vertkal crewman, just bringing a pair of binoculars up to his eyes. He's standing just aft of the bridge, forward of the stack.

Contributed by Rick Hollis.

Incidents at Sea Agreement

As a result of such hazardous maritime incidents as that between USNS Dutton and AGI Vertikal, The United States and the USSR concluded the "Incidents at Sea Agreement", signed May 1972.

This paper by by the naval historian David F. Winkler in the The Journal of Strategic Studies recounts the history of the agreement. The Dutton-Vertikal incident is described on p373.

Submitted by EG Adams.

Cold War at Sea

The AGI Vertikal incident is also described on page 30 of David Winkler's "Cold War at Sea".

Submitted by EG Adams.

Palomares Incident, Late January 1966

On January 17, 1966 a B-52 bomber collided with a KC-135 tanker while refueling over Spain. Of the four nuclear weapons carried by the B-52, three fell on Spanish soil and one landed in the Mediterranean sea off Palomares, Spain.
USNS Dutton was there, along with Rick Hollis, who preserved these news magazine accounts of the incident.

Readers Digest
September 1966

Dutton is mentioned in the bottom left panel of page 262.

All Hands Magazine
September 1966

Dutton is mentioned on page 66.

Look (or Life) Magazine 1966

Dutton is not mentioned.

SAGA Magazine
September 1966

Unidentified by name in the article, a photo of Dutton appears on page 3 in the lower left pane.

Sandia LabNews
January 1995

Dutton is not mentioned.

From Faceplates Magazine
September 2006

(The) "Navy Oceanographic Office’s Survey Ship, USNS Dutton steamed in and was employed in a underwater survey from which charts were published and the Decca System was surveyed in. Dutton also placed some underwater velocity meters. (Prior to Dutton charts, the TF had to depend on some old Spanish charts dated in the early 1900’s.)"

Ref: DCR D.H. Moody, USN (Ret.) 40th Anniversary of Palomares. Faceplate, Vol. 10, No. 2, September 2006, pages 15-19.

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