APRIL 11, 2013—The U.S. Geological Survey, Ann Arbor, MI, recently awarded a contract to build a replacement vessel for the 38-year-old research vessel Grayling.
The new Grayling will built by Burger Boat Company, Manitowoc, WI, and operate on Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior. The preliminary design for the new survey vessel was developed by JMS Naval Architects of Mystic, CT.
The 78 ft vessel will be stationed at USGS Great Lakes Science Center base in Cheboygan, MI, and will incorporate modern marine standards and state-of-the-art technology to more safely and effectively conduct fisheries research.
Built in 1977, the 75 ft x 22 ft Grayling was used primarily to carry out annual prey fish assessments. Data on prey fish populations are especially important in evaluating management strategies such as predator stocking and harvest quotas.
"I am delighted to have achieved this important milestone that will benefit the Great Lakes region for many decades," says USGS GLSC Director Russell Strach. "This investment would not have been possible without the support from many key partners. The new research vessel will come fully equipped with 21st century laboratories and scientific instrumentation to support fishery science for the Great Lakes."
The funding for this expenditure was accrued from two prior appropriations and held in an account that was not affected by the sequester.
The replacement vessel is expected to be a commercial grade 78-foot vessel, and will be designed and constructed for a 40 to 50-year service life. This vessel will be capable of performing critical scientific and mission-related tasks, including dragging nets along the lake bottom, catching fish, and using sound-waves to detect fish and assess their abundance.
"The entire Burger team is very excited to be awarded this significant contract," says Jim Ruffolo, President and CEO of Burger Boat Company. "The Grayling will further reinforce Burger’s commitment to designing and constructing quality vessels that meet each owner’s specific requirements, whether they are custom yachts or commercial vessels."
This new contract will create additional highly skilled shipbuilding jobs at the Manitowoc shipyard, and the project will help support numerous companies that supply raw materials and equipment for the project.
For over 50 years the USGS GLSC has operated a unique and valuable deepwater fish ecology and assessment program that is the foundation for fisheries management throughout the Great Lakes.
Burger, at 150 years old, is one of the world's oldest shipyards. From its facility in Manitowoc, WI., Burger's craftsmen have built hundreds of high quality vessels as long as 260 feet (80 meters) that can be found in ports around the world. Today, Burger continues its legacy of designing and building vessels to the highest standard from its fully updated shipyard.
The USGS GLSC maintains a fleet of fishery research vessels on each of the Great Lakes to meet the scientific research needs of state, tribal, and federal resource managers for understanding and effectively managing the Great Lakes fishery.