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Marine Log


June 27, 2008

NOAA christens research vessel

Today, NOAA christened a new, state-of-the-art research vessel that will enhance the study and protection of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico.

The 83-foot R/V Manta will operate out of Galveston, Texas, where the sanctuary is headquartered.

Built in Bellingham, Wash., by All American Marine, the twin-hulled Manta features a laboratory equipped with the latest scientific instruments, air compressors to allow divers to refill scuba tanks at sea, and a recompression chamber to enhance diver safety. The vessel can hold up to 25 people, deploy robot subs and other ocean exploration tools, and cruise at speeds up to 35 knots.

In addition to being a platform for exploring the sanctuary and surrounding waters, the Manta will also serve as a patrol vessel to enforce sanctuary regulations and a floating classroom. Teachers will be regular visitors aboard the Manta to watch and learn as scientists conduct research.

The 82 ft 8 in x 30 ft Manta is NOAA's fifth Teknicraft Design catamaran built by All American Marine and, according to NOAA Sanctuary Research Coordinator, Emma Hickerson, was built as "an ultimate SCUBA platform."

The Manta features over 700 square feet of working space on the aft deck, with a complete complement of working gear and an extensive grid of deck sockets. The deck sockets are spaced every two feet and allow equipment and gear to be secured, moved, or removed from the working deck.

All American Marine custom fabricated twin dive benches that mount via the deck sockets and accommodate a total of 20 divers and their gear. Oversized dive platforms connect to the transoms of each hull and the port side platform has been designed so that it can dually function as a docking and boarding platform for the Manta's 15.5 ft rigid inflatable tender skiff.

The Manta features an onboard Nitrox compressor, a fully equipped dive bottle fill station, three dive showers, and a private head located on the aft working deck.

The working deck also contains a Morgan Marine articulating knuckle crane and a hydraulically actuated 4,500 lb SWL A-frame. Scientific capabilities are further enhanced through a Markey Machinery Com-7H scientific winch and a Kinematics Marine hydraulic trawl winch mounted on the upper deck.

A complete weather and water monitoring system by Seakeepers Society has been included and the vessel is outfitted with custom brackets to accommodate pole mounted transducers for survey work. Retractable awnings are installed on both the upper and lower aft deck spaces to provide additional shelter from rain and the penetrating gulf sun.

Inside the Manta are five private staterooms, two spacious heads, a fully equipped galley, and a large multipurpose settee and dining area.

Over 250 square feet is dedicated to laboratory space for separate onboard wet and dry laboratories, complete with fresh and salt water plumbing, chemical stations, refrigerator, freezer, desk space, and a computer network.

Scientists in the dry lab have access to controls for the hydraulic A-frame and winches and can easily monitor mission operations via the closed circuit television system. The crew can comfortably endure 5 day missions with a fully equipped galley featuring a range oven, microwave, ice maker, trash compactor, pantry, and separate full-size refrigerator and freezer.

The Manta can generate 900 gallons of fresh water per day with an AquaMatic 900-2 water maker and to preserve the environment of the sanctuary, all waste is treated by the Tidal Wave type II sanitation system and pumped out or released outside of the sanctuary.

Power is by twin Caterpillar C32 ACERT engines, each delivering 1,600 brake horsepower at 2,300 rpm. The propulsion package includes ZF 3050 transmissions which drive Hamilton Jet HM 571 water jets. The vessel cruises at 27 knots and can reach speeds topping 34 knots. Fuel consumption is approximately 5 gallons per nautical mile at speeds ranging from 22 knots to 31 knots fully laden. A range of 650 nautical miles is possible with the 3,600 gallon fuel capacity inclusive of reserves.

The Manta utilizes hydrofoil technology.

The semi-displacement catamaran hull shape developed by Teknicraft Design of Auckland, New Zealand, provides a smooth ride while producing extremely low wake wash energy.

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