WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to advance ocean exploration and modernize America’s fleet of Regional Research Vessels, U.S. Senator Jack Reed has worked for years helping to provide $250 million to allow the National Science Foundation (NSF) to build a new generation of ocean research vessels. And this week, NSF announced the selection of the East Coast Oceanographic Consortium, led by the University of Rhode Island’s (URI) Graduate School of Oceanography, to operate one of three new oceanographic research ships that are scheduled to be built and delivered in the coming years.
“This is a big win for Rhode Island and scientific discovery. This new cutting-edge research vessel will be homeported in Rhode Island and will enable URI researchers and their partners to more efficiently explore, collaborate, and conduct global ocean research,” said Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee who has helped deliver federal funding to strengthen Rhode Island’s research infrastructure. “The selection of URI as the operator of one of the three new research vessels recognizes the excellence of the Graduate School of Oceanography as a world-class oceanographic research center and its superlative record in operating the RV Endeavor over the last 40 years.”
Reed was the leading Congressional champion of the construction of new Regional Class Research Vessels and pushed for acquisition of three ships instead of two to cover the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico. URI will operate the second ship, which is scheduled to be delivered to Rhode Island in 2021 and home-ported at URI’s Narragansett Bay Campus.
The new research vessel will be nearly 200-feet long and represents a new class of oceangoing laboratories that feature state-of-the-art technologies, additional workspace, and more comfortable berthing. The ship will be able to cruise at 11.5 knots and top speed of 13 knots, and the ability to stay out at sea for at least three weeks at a time. It will also include a dynamic positioning system that enables ships to remain in one exact spot for long periods and will allow operation of remote operated vehicles. The ship can carry a crew of 13 and up to 16 scientists and have a cruising range of 5,400 nautical miles.
Building on funding secured by Senator Reed in earlier years, the Senate is poised to deliver an additional $28,700,000 in order to complete funding for the second Regional Class Research Vessel and $60,500,000 to begin the funding for the third RCRV in the Fiscal Year 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill approved by the full Appropriations Committee last month.
The new ship will replace R/V Endeavor, a 185-foot ship that URI has operated for more than 40 years and is nearing the end of its useful life. Over the years, Endeavor has traveled more than one million nautical miles from the Arctic to the South Pacific while conducting more than 600 research expeditions.