Data push keeps shipbuilders busy on science front
Courtesy U.S. Navy
The biggest delivery in the sector in the past year was the 353-foot USNS Maury, built by VT Halter Marine and operated by the Military Sealift Command.

The demand for data from the world’s oceans continues to grow as researchers respond to the effects of climate change and look to advance the extent and accuracy of seafloor mapping. Activity at North American shipyards reflected that during the past year, with a bevy of orders and deliveries in both the government and academic sectors.

Leading the way was VT Halter Marine of Pascagoula, Miss., which delivered the 353-foot USNS Maury (T-AGS 66) to the U.S. Navy in February. The Pathfinder-class oceanographic survey ship is the first built for the Navy since USNS Mary Sears (T-AGS 65), another Halter vessel that launched in 2000.

The new addition to the fleet is named for the 19th-century naval commander and researcher Matthew F. Maury, who was the first superintendent of the U.S. Naval Observatory. The ship is 24 feet longer than others in its class to accommodate a 300-square-foot moon pool, which will be used to deploy and retrieve autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).

Maury operates under the authority of the Military Sealift Command (MSC) and has accommodations for 67, including 28 crew. The ship conducts seafloor scanning, oceanographic sampling and data collection, and data processing and sample analysis. Service speed is 15 knots.

In November 2015, Silver Ships of Theodore, Ala., delivered Beauvais, a 48-foot Endeavor-class survey boat, to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The all-welded aluminum vessel, designed by naval architect Lou Codega of Smithfield, Va., has a hull form engineered to handle the short choppy seas of the Gulf of Mexico. The boat also will be deployed to survey rivers in the New Orleans district.

Propulsion is provided by twin Caterpillar C18 803-hp diesels coupled to Twin Disc v-drive gears. Auxiliary power is supplied by a Caterpillar C2.2 diesel genset. The boat has a top speed of more than 28 knots, a cruising speed of 25 knots and a range of 300 miles. 

In Louisiana, Geo Shipyard added to its research portfolio with the 60-foot Jim Franks.

Courtesy Geo Shipyard

The pilothouse features 360-degree visibility, two Raymarine radar/chartplotters, and Icom VHF radios. Forward cabin accommodations include berthing for four and a ManaGerm Type II marine sanitation system with private head, shower and full galley.

In the summer of 2016, All American Marine of Bellingham, Wash., delivered the 48-foot Gulf Surveyor to the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center. The aluminum catamaran designed by Teknicraft draws on the success of two previous survey vessels from All American: the 48-foot Auk, built in 2006 for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the 45-foot David Folger, built for Middlebury College in 2012.

Gulf Surveyor features Teknicraft’s signature hull shape with symmetrical bow, asymmetrical tunnel and integrated wave piercer. Propulsion is provided by a pair of Cummins QSB6.7 Tier 3 engines rated at 250 hp at 2,600 rpm. Auxiliary power is supplied by a Cummins Onan 21.5-kW genset.

Deck gear includes a hydraulic A-frame, davit, scientific winch, side-mount sonar strut and a moon pool with a deployable sonar strut. The $2.4 million boat was funded by a grant from NOAA and is certified to carry 18 passengers.

All American also was awarded a contract in early 2016 to build a hydrofoil-supported aluminum catamaran for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The 68-foot vessel will be designed by Teknicraft and will replace Shuman, an aging boat that handles survey and dive operations in support of dredging in the Corps’ Philadelphia district.

While the downturn in global petroleum markets continued to hurt crew boat and OSV builders along the Gulf of Mexico in 2016, Geo Shipyard of New Iberia, La., rolled out another in a line of Roger Fyffe-designed research vessels. The 60-foot Jim Franks was delivered to the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in January.

All American Marine built Gulf Surveyor for ocean research at the University of New Hampshire.

Casey Conley photo

Propulsion for the aluminum catamaran is provided by a pair of Scania D1-13-070M 500-hp diesels linked to ZF 360 marine gears and ZF nibral propellers, delivering a top speed of 24 knots. The boat also has two Wesmar V210 22-hp thrusters. Service power is supplied by two Westerbeke 33-kW gensets.

Jim Franks can accommodate up to 40 passengers and has berthing for eight. It replaces Tom McIlwain, soon to be retired, and will be deployed for water testing, surveying and fishing. Researchers have access to two wet laboratories and a dry laboratory.

In Seattle, the rock band Soundgarden was on hand in June to help dedicate the 48-foot SoundGuardian for the King County (Wash.) Department of Natural Resources and Parks. The catamaran was built locally by Kvichak Marine, now Vigor.

The jet-driven research vessel replaces Liberty, a boat that has been in service since 1977. The new boat will monitor water quality in Puget Sound, Lake Washington and the Duwamish River. It also will be used to respond to oil spills and dumping, toxic algae blooms, fish kills and beach erosion. The boat was named for the band after a public contest.

Other research and survey boats taking shape during the past year in the U.S. and Canada included the following:

• In Florida, construction began in May on a 78-foot research vessel for the Florida Institute of Oceanography. The boat was designed and engineered by Boksa Marine Design of Lithia, Fla., and is being built by Duckworth Steel Boats of Tarpon Springs. The newbuild, tentatively named William T. Hogarth, will replace the 71-foot Bellows. Delivery is expected in late 2017 or early 2018.

Silver Ships’ Beauvais serves the Army Corps of Engineers.

Courtesy Silver Ships

• Derecktor Shipyards of Mamaroneck, N.Y., fresh off the 2015 delivery of the hybrid research catamaran Spirit of the Sound to the Maritime Aquarium of Norwalk, Conn., announced in January that it would build a similar vessel for the City University of New York (CUNY) and the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay. Like Spirit, the new boat also will be 63 feet long and feature BAE HybriDrive hybrid electric propulsion. 

• More government-related work is in pipeline for Willard Marine of Anaheim, Calif., which received a contract in the fall of 2015 to supply NOAA with three aluminum hydrographic survey launch ships (HSLs). Two of the 28-footers will be built for duty aboard the agency’s 208-foot Thomas Jefferson; the third will serve on the 231-foot Rainier. The HSLs will be deployed in coastal waters to conduct surveys with hull-mounted and towed sonar units. Delivery is scheduled for the fall of 2016.

• NOAA recently awarded another contract to Willard for a 20-foot rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) for the Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center in Hawaii. The boat will be a slightly modified version of Willard’s Sea Force 730, a military-grade aluminum RHIB designed with a deep-V hull for maximum stability. Features include twin Honda 115-hp outboards and a lift sling designed to hoist 6,700 pounds.

• JMS Naval Architects of Mystic, Conn., has designed a 93-foot ABS load-line vessel for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. The boat, which will replace Bay Eagle, will have two 660-hp Tier 3 diesels coupled to a two-in/one-out marine gear driving a controllable-pitch propeller in a nozzle. JMS said the arrangement will allow the vessel to operate efficiently on one engine when on station or during low-speed transits. Other features include dynamic positioning, large wet and dry labs, and a stern A-frame with an 8,000-pound load capacity. A solicitation to shipyards was expected by the end of the year.

• Oregon State University issued a request for proposals in August for the construction of at least one — and possibly three — advanced Regional-class research vessels to upgrade the aging U.S. academic fleet. OSU, selected by the National Science Foundation in 2013 as the lead institution in the project, will select a single shipyard for the work. The design by Glosten of Seattle calls for a 193-foot vessel with a range of greater than 5,000 miles.

• Seaspan Shipyards of British Columbia announced in March that it had cut steel on the second of three offshore fisheries science vessels (OFSVs) that it is building for the Canadian Coast Guard. All three of the 208-foot ships — the first has been named CCGS Sir John Franklin — are slated for delivery by the end of 2017. The yard also announced contracts through the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy that will lead to the construction of an offshore oceanographic science vessel.

• Kanter Marine of Ontario is building seven survey vessels for the Canadian Hydrographic Service under terms of a $5.3 million contract announced in April. The new ships will be outfitted with multibeam sonar systems and will collect data in the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes, the Arctic and on the East Coast. Fisheries and Oceans Canada expected to take delivery of the lead vessel by October.

Categories: American Ship Review, Maritime News