According to the Daily Texan, after 35 years of service, the research vessel, Longhorn, is being sold by UT's Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas.
The Newspaper reported that Steven Lanoux, assistant director of operations at the institute, said the Longhorn is not worth the $1.5m renovation cost it would take to repair the vessel. The ship requires hull repairs, new engines and new scientific equipment, he said. Private research crews and other universities such as the A&M Research Institute, Tulane University and Duke University
pay to use the ship, but their fees will not cover the expensive repairs, he said.
The Longhorn's departure poses a challenge for many researchers at the Institute such as associate professor Tracy Villareal, who regularly uses the ship for his red-tide research. Red tide, a marine algae, can turn water a red or brown color. According to the Institute's Web site, Villareal has been conducting a multi-year survey of the Texas coast to understand and predict red-tide movement. Villareal said once he found out the Longhorn was being sold, he used the ship as much as possible with his remaining grant money.
Other professors use the Longhorn for teaching purposes. Marine science professor Kenneth Dunton takes his summer undergraduate students into the Gulf for hands-on research. He said he believes there is no better way to teach, because nothing compares to firsthand experience.
Lanoux said the nearest other scientific research vessel is at the Louisiana Marine Consortium, a two-day sail from Port Aransas. Texas researchers are hoping the Texas A&M System will bring a research vessel to the Gulf. The system will compete to operate a new ship being built by the National Science Foundation, Lanoux said.
Source: Daily Texan