Feature:Oscar Dyson Launches New Era at NOAA

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

By Larry Pearson

With the launching and first of the year completion of the 208-ft. vessel Oscar Dyson, a new era has also been launched at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Typically the recipients of hand-me-down vessels from other services, the $39.3 million Oscar Dyson is the first new vessel the NOAA has received in over 30 years.

Dedicated to fisheries research, the vessel is the first of at least two and maybe four built for NOAA by VT Halter Marine, at their Moss Point, Miss. shipyard. The Oscar Dyson was one of a number of ships that was caught in the Friede Goldman Halter bankruptcy two years ago and work was suspended during the shutdown and transfer of this project to the successor company, VT Halter Marine. Since early this year, work has proceed at a quick pace leading to the mid-October side launch of the 48-ft. wide vessel with an Ice Classed (CO) hull.

The vessel is completely diesel/electric powered. A pair of Caterpillar 3508 diesels drive 1,360 kW generators and a pair of Caterpillar 3508 engines power 910 kW generators for a total generated kW of 4,550.

An Ansaldo electric motor rated at 2,250 kW at 134 rpm drive a single Rolls Royce 4.3 meter diameter, five- blade propeller enabling the vessel to travel at speeds to 14 knots.

An Elliott White Gill bow thruster gives the vessel outstanding maneuverability during docking and undocking modes. The bow thruster is also a key element in the dynamic positioning system installed on this vessel rated DP-1. It is very unusual for a vessel not involved in the oil field supply business to be equipped with a dynamic positioning system. However the fishery research and survey mission of this vessel is enhanced by a DP system that can enable the Oscar Dyson to hold its position while engaging in survey and research in spite of weather, wind and sea states. .

The Oscar Dyson utilizes a steel hull and an aluminum superstructure with a capacity of 39 crew. Since this is a scientific research and survey vessel, a number of the crew persons are actually scientific personnel conducting a wide range of fishery experiments. The vessel contains a number of wet labs and other research stations for experimentation on the fish caught by the vessel.

Among the ancillary equipment on the vessel is a Rapp Hydema Trawling system, a Huber Stern gantry and side frame and an Amclyde Centerboard Handling system.

The vessel has hull tanks to carry 400 metric tons of fuel oil, 375 metric tons of ballast water and 36 metric tons of fresh water.

Equally important to the catching of the fish is the observation of them. The vessel was built with an ultra quiet acoustic signature, so the vessel will not disturb the fish they are observing.

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