Exploring the Seas

UNH is among partners to operate new National Science Foundation ocean-going research vessel

Friday, July 13, 2018
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Artist's drawing of research ship

An artist's rendering of the new 199-foot research vessel to be jointly operated by UNH. (Image: Glosten Associates)

A new ocean-going research vessel is on the horizon for scientists at the University of New Hampshire that will expand their capability to track ocean currents, conduct seafloor studies and study food web dynamics and fish migration.

“With access to this new state-of-the-art research vessel, UNH scientists will have an unprecedented opportunity to participate in a range of important coastal and deep sea research experiments.”

The National Science Foundation (NSF) selected the East Coast Oceanographic Consortium to operate a forthcoming research vessel that will provide cutting-edge technology for scientists to study and explore the Atlantic Ocean and adjoining seas. The consortium is led by the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography in collaboration with UNH and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, along with 16 associate members.

“This is particularly exciting news for the new School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering at UNH,” says Larry Mayer, director of the school. “As a member of the East Coast Oceanographic Consortium with access to this new state-of-the-art research vessel, UNH scientists will have an unprecedented opportunity to participate in a range of important coastal and deep sea research experiments.”

This Regional Class Research Vessel (the RCRV-2), owned by NSF and valued at more than $100 million, is slated for arrival at its home port of URI’s Narragansett Bay campus by 2021. One of only three ships of its kind in the nation, the RCRV-2 will provide scientists with the opportunity to conduct operations in the coastal ocean, ranging from near-shore environments to the outer continental rise, as well as the open ocean. Some of the vessel’s features will include improved science labs, more work space, state-of-the-art technologies and more comfortable berthing, according to URI.

The ship will replace the R/V Endeavor, which was operated for 40 years and was part of more than 600 research expeditions.

UNH’s School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, ranked in the top 10 for competitively funded marine research, owns two major research vessels: the R/V Gulf Challenger, a 50-foot aluminum vessel, and the R/V Gulf Surveyor, a 48-foot aluminum hydrographic research catamaran commissioned in 2016.