NOAA 2003-R801
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani
NOAA News Releases 2003
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Oscar Elton Sette to be homeported in Honolulu

A former Navy ship will have a new role as it sails the waters of the western and central Pacific. The Oscar Elton Sette – commissioned into the NOAA research fleet today in Honolulu – will be working to assess and protect the region’s fisheries and living marine resources under the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“Not only are we greatly expanding our observation and research potential, but we’re continuing in the gradual trend of revitalizing the NOAA fleet,” said retired Navy VADM Conrad C. Lautenbacher, PhD, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “With each new or refurbished addition to the NOAA fleet we become more efficient at supporting the NOAA mission. The Sette has a longer range, enhanced stability and better boat-handling capabilities than the ship it’s replacing. Sette also carries more scientists and a larger suite of scientific labs than most other research vessels.”

Oscar Elton Sette is named after the first director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Honolulu Laboratory, now part of NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries). He served there from 1949 to 1955. The ship, homeported in Honolulu, will conduct fisheries assessment surveys, physical and chemical oceanography, coral reef research and marine mammal projects to continue the work of the recently decommissioned Townsend Cromwell in support of the laboratory.

“The commissioning of a new ship is always a special occasion for NOAA, because the NOAA fleet is the backbone that supports the agency’s seagoing data-collection efforts,” said Rear Admiral Evelyn J. Fields, NOAA, director of NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations (NMAO) and the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps. “The Sette is one of several T-AGOS vessels that NOAA has acquired from the Navy and converted to conduct research. Because it is acoustically quieted, it is particularly well suited to conduct fisheries research and marine mammal surveys.”

Oscar Elton Sette is commanded by NOAA Corps Commander Kenneth W. Barton. Formerly known as USNS Adventurous, it was built by Halter Marine, Inc., of Moss Point, Miss., and delivered to the Navy’s Military Sealift Command in 1988. It was transferred to NOAA in 1992. Congress provided funding to convert the ship to a fisheries survey vessel in fiscal years 2001 and 2002. Sette is a cost-efficient and highly capable replacement for the 39-year-old Townsend Cromwell. The 224-foot ship is crewed by five NOAA Corps officers, three licensed engineers and 13 wage mariners, and carries a complement of up to12 scientists.

The NOAA fleet of research and survey ships and aircraft is operated, managed, and maintained by NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations, and includes civilians and officers of the NOAA Commissioned Corps – the nation’s seventh and smallest uniformed service. NOAA Corps officers, all scientists or engineers, 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 Fisheries is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation’s living marine resources through scientific research, management, enforcement and the conservation of marine mammals and other protected marine species and their habitat.

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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