The new research vessel, delivered to Old Dominion University
's Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography by Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, is expected to commence a growing trend in research boat design -- toward smaller, faster and more versatile vessels — equipped to study a variety of sea characteristics.
Designed by Roger Long Marine Architecture of Portland, Maine, the all-aluminum vessel has a modified V-hull that measures only 55 ft. with a 17-ft. beam. Its five ft. draft allows the vessel to work in shallow waters of the Chesapeake Bay and along the Virginia coastline, up to 100 miles. The vessel's design firm and Gladding Hearn teamed to construct a similar size vessel for the University of New Hampshire in 1992, and have a similar 60 footer on the way for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
Temporary electrical cables can be installed safely along a system of conduits and wire trays that run between the wheelhouse, on-board labs and the deck. In addition, portable research equipment can be easily replaced and secured from a pattern of flush stainless steel inserts on the aft deck. The vessel's top speed of 22 knots also adds to its cost-effectiveness because researchers can travel a reasonable distance and still return within a normal work day. Operating at an 18-knot cruising speed, the twin Caterpillar 3406E diesel engines, each rates at 700 bhp, burn about 50 gph, yielding a range of more than 600 miles. Two Hal & Staveart five-bladed nickel-bronze propellers are turned by ZF 350A reverse-reduction gears in 8-in. propeller tunnels to reduct draft. A Northern Lights generator provides power and a transducer-well extends above the waterline so they can be changed without hauling the boat out of the water.
Under the raised foredeck are the electronics lab and a wet lab, bunks, galley and settee, as well as a head for six scientists and the crew. The wheelhouse includes the Furuno NavNet system displays charts, GPS, radar and depth at mulitple stations throughout the boat.