The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently took delivery of Henry B. Bigelow, one of a new class of fisheries survey vessels being built under contract with VT Halter Marine
Inc., in Pascagoula, Miss. Henry B. Bigelow will support NOAA research efforts in conservation and management of fisheries and marine ecosystems primarily in northeastern U.S. waters, replacing the 45-year old Albatross IV. The ship will be home ported in New England, although a permanent base has not been named. The ship will be based temporarily at Naval Station Newport, in Newport, R.I. U.S. Senator and Mrs. Judd Gregg attended the keel-laying ceremony with students from Winnacunnet High School, who submitted the winning vessel name through a NOAA educational outreach contest. Mrs. Gregg is the sponsor of the ship.
Henry B. Bigelow is the second of four 208-ft. fisheries survey vessels (FSVs) to be delivered by VT Halter Marine, with the third ship, Pisces, and the as-yet unnamed fourth ship in various stages of construction. Together, these ships will expand the capabilities of the NOAA fleet greatly by meeting data collection requirements of NOAA Fisheries Service
, as well as providing a cutting-edge, low acoustic signature. The FSVs will have the ability to perform hydro-acoustic surveys of fish, and will also be able to conduct bottom and mid-water trawls while running physical and biological-oceanographic sampling during a single deployment--a combined capability unavailable in the private sector. The ship is named for Henry Bryant Bigelow, the founding director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
and a pioneering ocean researcher whose extensive investigations are recognized as the foundation of modern oceanography. His expeditions in the Gulf of Maine, where he collected water samples and data on the phytoplankton, fish and hydrography, made this region one of the most thoroughly studied bodies of water, for its size, in the world.