Oregon State University will manage the construction of a third regional class research vessel under terms of a $108.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the university announced Wednesday.
OSU was selected by the federal agency in 2013 to lead initial design for up to three new ships to bolster the nation’s aging academic research fleet, authorizing up to $365 million for the project.
OSU received $121.9 million to design and build the first vessel, and last June the university was awarded $88 million to construct a second.
Gulf Island Shipyards of Houma, Louisiana, will build all three vessels.
“Understanding the ocean’s resources and its role in our future is a national imperative,” Roberta Marinelli, dean of OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, said in a statement announcing the grant.
“The regional class research vessels are state-of-the-art platforms that will add critically needed capacity to understand nearshore oceanic processes and living marine resources.”
The first of the three — bearing the Siletz name Taani, meaning “offshore” — will be operated by OSU, primarily in the Pacific Ocean. It is scheduled for delivery in the summer of 2021 and will undergo a year of outfitting and testing before becoming fully operational.
The East Coast Oceanographic Consortium, headed by the University of Rhode Island, will operate the second ship, mainly in the Atlantic Ocean. The National Science Foundation has not yet chosen an operator for the third research ship, which is intended to work primarily in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and southeast Atlantic.
The second ship is scheduled for delivery to OSU in January 2022 for outfitting before being handed over to the University of Rhode Island.
Construction of the third research vessel is set to begin in November, with completion expected in mid-2022.
The ship will be 199 feet long, with 16 berths for scientists and 13 for crew members. It will have a maximum speed of 13 knots and a cruising speed of 11 knots. The vessel will have a range of more than 5,000 nautical miles and the ability to stay out at sea for 21 days under normal conditions before returning to port to refuel and resupply.