OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - Pretty soon the University of Southern Mississippi’s Ocean Science and Engineering team will have a new state of the art research ship at its disposal.
A few months ago, Southern Miss was chosen to use one of three Regional Class Research Vessels (RCRV) to be built down the road in Houma, La.
"Research vessels are like trucks, and this will be a very nice truck that will take people out on the water,” said Dr. Monty Graham, Southern Miss associate vice president for research coastal operations. “When you go out on the water, you usually take entire laboratories with you. They can be brought in containers, or they can be brought on the ship.”
Graham also said once the new ship is built it will have lots of technological advancements, so those going out on research trips will have state of the art equipment to use out on the water.
Things like dynamic positioning.
“That means that you can just plug in the computer, and the ship will exactly stay where the ship needs to stay,” Graham added. “You can do remote vehicle work and not get worried about getting tangled up in the ship’s wheel.”
The new ship will replace the Point Sur, the current research workhorse that was built back in 1981 but still has many more missions left in her already storied history.
"The academic research fleet in this country is aging. The Point Sur is a good example of that. It’s about a 40-year-old vessel,” said Graham. “The Point Sur really means a lot to me because I was on it way back in the day in graduate school and spent a lot of time on her so it’ll be sad to see her go. But like with everything you need to be able to keep up with the technology.”
The RCRVs are state-of-the-art research vessels approximately 200 feet in length and capable of taking a complement of 29 crew and scientists to sea for 21 days. They will be fully equipped to complete ocean crossings and operate in light ice.
Owned by the National Science Foundation and valued at over $100 million, this 199-foot Regional Class Research Vessel is scheduled to begin construction in late 2019. The new ship will enable valuable research on environmental change, the global hydrologic cycle, biodiversity in the ocean, and marine mineral resources.
This new research vessel is expected to be completed in 2023 and will become fully operational after a year of rigorous sea trials. Once finished, it will carry out research in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. It will be the first new regional class research ship in the U.S. Academic Research Fleet to the Gulf of Mexico in nearly four decades.