R/V Cape Hatteras Will Embark on New Phase

Press Release
Monday, January 21, 2013

Famed for Finding Oil Deposits on the Seafloor after the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon Accident, the Invaluable Seagoing Laboratory is up for Sale.

Meticulously tended to by a professional crew, and certified for another decade of exploration, the research vessel (R/V) Cape Hatteras has a lot of life left in her.   That service may, however, take place in new seas now that the craft is being retired and sold by the Duke - University of North Carolina Oceanographic Consortium (DUNCOC).

Constructed for The National Science Foundation in 1981 by Atlantic Marine Ship Builders, the 135-foot craft has been operated and meticulously maintained for 31 years by DUNCOC, and berthed at Duke University Marine Laboratory (DUML) on Pivers Island in Beaufort, North Carolina. As part of University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System, the shared-use R/V Cape Hatteras has for over three decades served the needs of academic researchers at universities throughout the US, as well as numerous federal and state oceanographic laboratories and agencies.

R/V Cape Hatteras has sailed along the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to the Caribbean to help scientists better understand ocean life and aid in exploratory efforts. Currently, the vessel is being used to monitor bass populations off North Carolina's coast and will undertake one more research endeavor before the end of January. Perhaps most notably, the steel-hulled ship was rapidly mobilized in 2010 to survey environmental conditions after the Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists on that voyage found clear evidence of oil on the seafloor.

John C. Nelson, of Nelson Yacht Sales Inc. in Beaufort, is handling the sale of R/V Cape Hatteras for DUNCOC. The vessel came on the market just before the New Year with an asking price of $1.25 million. Numerous parties have already inquired about purchasing the research vessel, including interest from institutions staffed by researchers who have previously sailed aboard the ship. Other potential buyers have emerged from Singapore, Brazil, China, Mexico, Nova Scotia and Australia.

"Wherever the R/V Cape Hatteras finds its next berth, the purchasing research institute or university will be buying a practical, proven platform already well known and respected throughout the international scientific community," Nelson said. "Rarely does a research vessel of this pedigree, painstakingly maintained by a professional crew throughout her entire service, come on the market."

According to Nelson, the ship underwent a complete midlife refit in 2003 and remains in truly turnkey condition with state-of-the-art research, exploration, navigational and communications equipment aboard. Systems aboard the R/V Cape Hatteras include: 12 kHz and 3.5 kHz echo-sounding systems; Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCP) for current determinations; and a built-in underway data accumulation system that logs navigational, meteorological and surface water properties data at pre-determined sampling intervals.

Certified in March 2011 by ABS for five years of service (2012 to 2017) with annual inspections and after a formal review process by NSF, the R/V Cape Hatteras was given a 10 year service life extension. The ship accommodates 14 scientists and 10 crewmen, has a beam of 32 feet (10+m) and a modest draft of 10 feet (3m.) With a gross tonnage of 296 tons, the vessel can carry 29,000 gallons of diesel and cruises at 10 knots (12 knots max) with a range of approximately 6,800 miles, allowing the ship to remain at sea for about 25 days. On deck, the boat is equipped with numerous heavy cranes and winches.

DUNCOC Interim Director Dr. Richard T. Barber said R/V Cape Hatteras has woven its way into the hearts of researchers and local mariners alike. "So many students and scientists from around the world have shared rewarding days and nights with our local crew onboard the Hatteras, it's impossible not to get attached," Dr. Barber said. "The Cape Hatteras is a valued and recognizable entity in the region, and served as an economic force in the community. While she'll be missed dockside, we smile knowing she'll live on for many years as an immensely useful tool for others looking to better understand what is going on beneath the waves."  

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