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Research Vessel Matthew F. Maury (formally PCF-2)

Research Vessel Matthew F. Maury (formerly PCF-2)
The R/V Matthew F. Maury has a unique history. In the early 1960's, the United States Navy was looking for new platforms for riverine warfare activities in Vietnam. Sewart Seacraft in Louisiana had been building an aluminum hull design for general-purpose use in the Gulf of Mexico. This particular design was utilized as an oil well support craft. The Navy eventually adopted and modified its design. They took possession of 104 of the craft commencing in 1965.


length: 51 feet
beam:13 feet
power: twin 12v71 Detroit diesels
speed: 20+ knots
range: 500 miles
electricity: 24v DC; 110 AC
radar: Furuno

depth finder: Raytheon
positioning: Raytheon GPS w/differential
lab facility: sinks, glassware, etc.
lift capability: 500 lb.
crew: 2
berthing: 5

Hull #'s 1 and 2 remained stateside at Coronado, California, where they were used as training craft for the Navy's new Swift Boat Class (PCF) Mark 1. The other 102 boats were sent to South Vietnam for service in the U.S. Navy.

In Vietnam, the boats built an impressive record of naval combat and earned their crews a place in Naval history. Meanwhile, PCF-1 and PCF-2 continued for years in their training role at Coronado.

Eventually, the Vietnam War ended and PCF-1 and PCF-2 were transferred to NAVSCIATTS in Panama. Here, they were utilized to train sailors of foreign naval forces to fight in coastal areas and rivers. The picture above shows her black paint job and red bottom coating. As the years went by, the Navy modified the PCF design and gradually, the two PCF's were outmoded by newer versions (Mark 2's and 3's) and soon to be retired.

In 1995, Tidewater Community College had a rare opportunity to acquire one of these boats. It was felt by both the Navy and the College that we could provide a good "berth" for one of the old boats. Through the gracious efforts of US Congressman Owen Pickett (D-Virginia), we acquired the second boat (PCF-2), beginning with H.R. 1530.
The ceremony was held at Waterside , in downtown Norfolk, Virginia. After brief speeches and fanfare, PCF-2 took off from the quay to move out into the harbor.
When President Clinton signed the National Defense Authorization Act (with H.R. 1530 included) for 1996, PCF-2 was officially the property of Tidewater Community College. She was renamed the R/V Matthew F. Maury, in honor of the legendary "pathfinder of the seas." Maury is a proud name in both the Chesapeake Bay and the Old Dominion.
Today, the vessel may sport a new coat of paint but underneath, it's still "Haze Gray." And while her mission has shifted from a wartime training platform to that of a Research Vessel, she continues to create a wake in coastal and inland waters. Her use today as a scientific platform will allow her to carry on into the next century and provide many individuals and groups the unique experience of scientific discovery.
Our scientific crews venture out in all kinds of weather on Chesapeake Bay. Here is one group after a wet day on the bay.
Maintaining the old girl continues. Since this picture was taken, we've acquired a dive platform on the stern.
The R/V Matthew F. Maury on stands for the ol' annual bottom paint job.
This is the R/V Matthew F. Maury from the front as she is getting ready to go back in the water at Cobb's Marina in Norfolk, Virginia.

Thanks to the Community!

Without the support of our community, this would not have happened. Some contributors in the last two years:

  • Bay Propeller, Chesapeake, Virginia - polished/straightened our props
  • Cobbs Marina, Norfolk, Virginia - donated several lifts and paint jobs; a lot of good advice
  • Global Yachts, Inc., Norfolk, Virginia - constructed/donated a dive platform to her stern; donated welding work
  • Students/friends - too numerous to mention here, but they indeed put a lot of time and resources into making this happen.

Thanks, folks