NOAA to Order Two New Research Vessels

File image courtesy NOAA

Published Feb 14, 2020 10:39 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced this week that it will soon be ordering two new research vessels for its 15-strong fleet. The new ships will be designed to support a wide variety of missions, from general oceanographic research and exploration to marine life, climate and ocean ecosystem studies.

“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.”

The first ship will be named Oceanographer, and she will be homeported in Honolulu. The second ship will be named Discoverer, and she will be assigned a homeport at a later date. The vessels carry the names of earlier NOAA vessels: the first Oceanographer and Discoverer were also sister ships, and they served in the NOAA fleet from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s. 

The design of the vessels is currently under way, and NOAA expects to award contracts for construction by the end of the year. The delivery timeline for the vessels will be announced after the contracts have been awarded. 

NOAA's fleet of 15 research and survey ships are crewed by civilian mariners and by commissioned officers of the NOAA Corps, one of the seven U.S. uniformed services (alongside the Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps).