WASHINGTON, DC – Rhode Island’s research ship has come in, again.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is adding a new state-of-the-art research vessel, Discoverer, to its fleet and will homeport the vessel in Rhode Island upon its completion.

The new ocean exploration ship will replace the 32-year-old NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, which is currently based out of Newport and also dedicated to oceanographic research.  When it is completed, Discoverer will operate with a crew of 20 and will be able to accommodate up to 28 scientists for multi-day voyages.  The new ship will join NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow, a fisheries survey vessel also based in Newport, at a new NOAA marine support facility currently under design at Naval Station Newport.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees NOAA funding, helped secure over $178 million to enable NOAA to construct two new ocean research vessels.  The other ship being built, Oceanographer, will have a similar mission and be homeported in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“I am pleased that NOAA is adding another research vessel to its fleet in Newport.  This is a win-win for the Ocean State, NOAA, and marine science.  Newport offers a strategic location and we’ve made critical investments to upgrade our working waterfront and dockside facilities.  This new vessel will continue the critical work being done by Okeanos and it will have even more high-tech tools to advance ocean exploration,” said Reed, who successfully advocated that Newport be the home of the forthcoming NOAA vessel.

Both ships are currently under contract in the design and build phase with Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors LLC, based in Houma, Louisiana.

The name Discoverer was chosen to honor the legacy of a previous NOAA research vessel that was in service for several decades, and sailed over 1 million nautical miles, before being commissioned in 1996.

Discoverer’s arrival in Newport will be determined by the construction schedule of the new ship.  Okeanos Explorer is scheduled to remain in service and based out of Newport until Discoverer comes online.

NOAA’s fleet of 15 active research and survey ships is operated by NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO).  NOAA ships conduct more than 100 missions annually to collect critical data and research that impact everything from fisheries and marine life to climate research and nautical charts.