OSU exercises option for third research vessel

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Regional research vessel

Oregon State University (OSU) has received an additional award of $108.12 million from the National Science Foundation to manage the construction of a third Regional Class Research Vessel and has exercised an option for the construction of the vessel at Gulf Island Fabrication, Inc.

Each vessel will be ABS Ice-Class CO and DPS-1, Green-Marine Certified, acoustically quiet, and carry up to 29 crew and embarked scientists. All three will be built at Gulf Island’s Houma, La., shipyard.

“I am pleased that OSU has exercised its third contract option, enabling Gulf Island to have an increased role in the success of OSU’s marine research program,” said Kirk Meche, Gulf Island’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We continue to move forward with the engineering and construction of the first two vessels, and this third option by OSU is a testament to the confidence of our customer in Gulf Island and our skilled craftsmen.”

In 2013, NSF selected Oregon State to lead the initial design phase for as many as three new vessels, and the National Science Board authorized as much as $365 million for the project. Oregon State in turn selected Gulf Island to build the vessels. OSU will operate the first vessel, the Taani, which will operate primarily in the Pacific Ocean.

Funding for a second vessel was approved in June of 2018, and NSF selected the East Coast Oceanographic Consortium led by the University of Rhode Island to operate the vessel primarily in the Atlantic Ocean. NSF has not yet chosen an operating institution for this third vessel, although it will be targeted for work in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and the southeast Atlantic Ocean.

The new ships are critical to America’s research efforts, said Roberta Marinelli, dean of OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences.

“Understanding the ocean’s resources and its role in our future is a national imperative,” Marinelli said. “The Regional Class Research Vessels are state-of-the-art platforms that will add critically needed capacity to understand nearshore oceanic process and living marine resources. OSU is pleased to work with Gulf Island Shipyards, and on behalf of the National Science Foundation, to build these revolutionary vessels for the academic research fleet.”

Demian Bailey, project co-manager for OSU, said the first ship is scheduled to be delivered to Oregon State in the summer of 2021, and will require a year of outfitting and testing before becoming fully operational.

The second ship is scheduled for delivery to Oregon State in January 2022 for similar outfitting before transitioning to the University of Rhode Island.

Construction of the newly announced third ship should begin in November 2019 and be completed six months after the second vessel.

About the new ships:

The vessel length is 199 feet with a range of more than 5,000 nautical miles;
Cruising speed is 11 knots, with a maximum speed of 13 knots;
There are 16 berths for scientists and 13 for crew members;
The ship has the ability to stay out at sea for 21 days under normal operating conditions before returning to port for fuel and supplies.

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