NOAA to Order New Research Ships in 2020
The U.S.' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said it expects to award contracts for the construction of two new oceanographic ships by the end of the year.
Once in service, the new large oceangoing, multi-mission research vessels will support missions ranging from general oceanographic research and exploration to marine life, climate and ocean ecosystem studies, NOAA said.
“When completed, these new state-of-the-art ships will be vital for collecting high-quality data and leading scientific discoveries,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator. “The science missions aboard these vessels promise to push the boundaries of what is known about our still largely undiscovered ocean.”
A NOAA spokesperson told MarineLink that Dakota Creek Industries, Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors and VT Halter Marine are currently conducting design work and that each is in the running to be awarded build contracts later this year.
Target launch dates will be determined after the shipbuilding contracts are awarded, NOAA said.
The two newbuilds will be named after long-serving NOAA vessels Oceanographer (active from 1966 to 1996) and sister ship Discoverer (active from 1967 to 1996).
The new Oceanographer will be homeported in Honolulu, while the homeport for Discoverer remains to be determined.
“The acquisition represents a major step forward in the recapitalization of NOAA’s ship fleet and will help ensure that the agency has the seagoing capability to collect the best information possible about the marine environment,” said Rear Adm. Michael J. Silah, director of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps and NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO).
NOAA's current fleet consists of 15 active research and survey ships operated by OMAO and crewed by NOAA Corps officers and civilian professional mariners. NOAA said its vessels conduct more than 100 missions anually to collect data critical for nautical charts, fishery quotas, exploration of the nation’s 4.3-million-square-mile Exclusive Economic Zone, storm surge modeling and climate research.