NOAA 2002-R606
Contact: Jana Goldman
NOAA News Releases 2002
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NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory is expanding its research capabilities with the addition of a new ship, Laurentian. The ship is being transferred to the laboratory's control through a partnership between the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Michigan. A ceremony commemorating the transfer is slated for July 2 in Muskegon, Mich.

Located in Ann Arbor, Mich., NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory will base and operate the Laurentian out of GLERL's Lake Michigan Field Station in Muskegon, where it will serve as the primary vessel supporting the lab's research missions.

The ship that was serving those functions, the Shenehon, has already been moved to Alpena, Mich., on Lake Huron to support NOAA 2002 field season activities at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve.

"This is a win-win situation for NOAA's Great Lakes lab and the University of Michigan," said Steve Brandt, GLERL director. "Increasing demands on ship time and new capabilities to complete our lab's wide and varied Great Lakes scientific missions have prompted us to look at all possible options. The addition of the Laurentian will greatly increase the volume of research we can conduct."

The 80-foot, 129-ton Laurentian was built in 1974 in Pascagoula, Miss., and has supported university research and educational needs throughout the Great Lakes region. With a crew of four and accommodation for up to 10 scientists, the ship has a cruising range of 2,500 nautical miles at a speed of 10 knots. The ship also has wet and dry labs with instruments and sampling gear to collect and process a wide array of data on the Great Lakes' physical, chemical, and biological processes. The ship has operated on all five of the Great Lakes and proved seaworthy on a 1983 round-trip cruise across the Atlantic for a study of Africa's Gambia River.

Under the agreement, GLERL will lease the Laurentian for the next 15 years, while taking on the responsibility of the vessel's operation, maintenance, and scheduling of ship time. Brandt said that University of Michigan scientists would still have opportunities to use the vessel, with additional time being set aside for university educational activities.

Recent declining demand for the ship's use by university researchers had prompted the University of Michigan to consider putting the vessel in dry dock and direct researchers to use other Great Lakes ships.

"The level of support has not been sufficient to pay for the costs of operating the vessel," said Fawwaz Ulaby, University of Michigan vice president for research, adding that there are no University of Michigan research proposals requiring ship time in the 2002 sailing season.

Ulaby noted that the agreement with GLERL is in the best interest of the university and the state of Michigan as researchers, teachers, and students would still have access to the ship.

The Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory conducts high-quality research and provides scientific leadership on important issues in both Great Lakes and marine coastal environments leading to new knowledge, tools, approaches, awareness, and services.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources.

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