VT Halter Marine Inc. and NOAA celebrated the keel laying for two new vessels at VT Halter’s Moss Point, Miss., shipyard. A combined ceremony was held for NOAA coastal mapping vessel Ferdinand R. Hassler and fisheries survey ship Bell M. Shimada. Both ships were named by student teams through regional NOAA ship-naming contests.
Ferdinand R. Hassler is a small waterplane area twin hull coastal mapping vessel, the first of its kind to be constructed for NOAA. Its design is particularly suited to NOAA’s mission to map the ocean floor, as it is less responsive to wave action than a mono-hull ship. Bell M. Shimada is the last of four vessels of the same design to be built for NOAA by VT Halter Marine.
Catherine H. Sununu, wife of U.S. Senator John Sununu of New Hampshire, was the sponsor of Ferdinand R. Hassler. Susan E. Lautenbacher, wife of retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, was sponsor of Bell M. Shimada, and authenticated that ship’s keel. With assistance from a shipyard welder, Sununu and Lautenbacher will engraved the first initial of their signatures on the respective keel plates, which will then be incorporated into the ships during construction.