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.