NOAA 2002-R848
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani
NOAA News Releases 2002
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The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will decommission one of its oldest ships today in a ceremony in Honolulu commemorating the vessel’s 39 years of service to the nation.

“It is a sad occasion to say goodbye to the Townsend Cromwell after so many years of excellent service to the nation,” said Rear Admiral Evelyn Fields, director of the NOAA Commissioned Corps, the nation’s seventh uniformed service, and the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, which operates and manages the NOAA fleet of ships and aircraft. “After 39 years, it’s time to replace it with a newer, more efficient vessel that will allow NOAA scientists to conduct their research more effectively. The NOAA marine operations staff is looking forward to commissioning the replacement ship early next year.”

NOAA will replace the Townsend Cromwell with a converted former Navy T-AGOS vessel built in 1988, expected to be commissioned Oscar Elton Sette in early 2003.

The Townsend Cromwell was named for the oceanographer for the Pacific Ocean Fisheries Investigation Office in Honolulu between 1949 and 1953. The163-ft. ship was built in 1963 for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in Honolulu. The bureau became part of NOAA when the agency was formed in 1970. Townsend Cromwell was transferred by the Fish and Wildlife Service to NOAA in1975, and since then has supported NOAA Fisheries’ Honolulu Laboratory.

The Townsend Cromwell has spent its service life operating throughout the central and western Pacific, conducting fisheries assessment surveys, physical and chemical oceanography, marine mammal projects and coral reef research. Over the past several years, the ship has participated in multi-agency efforts to remove hundreds of tons of discarded fishing gear and other marine debris from the region’s fragile coral reef systems. Its final cruise, a 30-day research expedition called the Northwestern Hawaiian Island Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program, ended Oct. 7.

“Research operations conducted on the Townsend Cromwell have provided valuable scientific information that has been critical to the management of domestic fisheries operations in the central and western Pacific,” said R. Michael Laurs, director of the Honolulu Laboratory, Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

The Townsend Cromwell may not be retired for long. Congress included language in an appropriations bill directing NOAA to turn the ship over to the government of American Samoa, which expects to employ it within the territory’s waters.

The NOAA fleet of research and survey ships and aircraft is operated, managed, and maintained by NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations. OMAO includes civilians and commissioned NOAA Corps officers. The NOAA Corps is the nation’s seventh and smallest uniformed service and, as part of NOAA, is under the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Corps is composed of officers – all scientists or engineers – who provide NOAA with an important blend of operational, management and technical skills that support the agency’s environmental programs at sea, in the air, and ashore.

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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