NOAA 03-R420
Contact: Ben Sherman
NOAA News Releases 2003
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Today the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) christened the R/V Shearwater, a 62', high-speed Teknicraft aluminum-hull catamaran research vessel. This new vessel will be an important new tool to enhance research in the California National Marine Sanctuaries. Held at the Sea Landing Dock at Santa Barbara Harbor, the vessel’s homeport and the headquarters for Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS), the christening was attended by NOAA’s Captain Ted I. Lillestolen, associate deputy assistant administrator for NOAA National Ocean Service, and Congresswoman Lois Capps, D-Calif. The vessel will also serve Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, all located off the California coast.

“The R/V Shearwater will usher in a new level of research capability for both Channel Islands and the California sanctuaries,” said Captain Lillestolen. “It is the first research vessel built specifically for the sanctuary use. It took a dedicated team effort, including sanctuary researchers and marine specialists, to make it possible.”

“This vessel shows NOAA's commitment to the Santa Barbara area and I believe that the R/V Shearwater will prove to be a critical investment in the agency's ongoing work to protect the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary," said Representative Lois Capps.

“The vessel design provides enhanced capabilities for on-board science and data collection, plus increased stability and speed needed for management and research at the sanctuary,” said Chris Mobley, CINMS manager.

Paul Gow, Naval Architect with PK/Marine, Moorpark, Calif., developed the specification requirements for the vessel contract. The detailed design was accomplished by Nic deWaal of Technicraft, Inc. Auckland, New Zealand. George Ringstad of Discovery Marine Services, Edmonds, Wash., accomplished on-site construction inspection and engineering consultation for the project.

“The result is a vessel ideally suited for oceanographic research in the waters off of California. We were delighted to work with the boat builder, All American Marine, and all those who contributed to the successful completion of this research vessel,” said CINMS Research Coordinator Sarah Fangman, who coordinated the design and production of R/V Shearwater with the builders.

The vessel’s A-frame and winch configuration are used for a variety of projects including conductivity, temperature and depth casts, sediment sampling, and towing equipment such as sidescan sonar and Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). The wet and dry laboratories allow onboard processing of samples and data.

R/V Shearwater will hold 24 passengers with a top speed of 24 knots and cruising speed of 20 knots. The vessel’s power system is designed for sensitive scientific equipment and to ensure scientific data are not lost due to power surges or interruptions. The vessel’s bridge electronics include two radars, differential global positioning system, autopilot, Simrad echosounder, an acoustic water column and bottom mapping system.

The R/V Shearwater’s onboard facilities and equipment can support extensive scuba dive operations. The flying bridge is outfitted for marine mammal and seabird observation. Recent efforts within CINMS have emphasized seabird research, archeological/cultural research (primarily shipwrecks) and collecting data for emerging management issues. Onboard berthing, stowage, galley and safety equipment allow for multiple-day excursions with crews of up to 10 scientists.

“In addition to serving as the platform for open water research, the vessel will serve as a host for educational field trips and emergency response in and around the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary,” said CINMS Vessel Operations Coordinator and R/V Shearwater Captain Matt Kelly.

There are approximately 43 vessels in the National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) fleet, including the R/V Shearwater. They allow managers, scientists, and other employees of the nation’s 13 National Marine Sanctuaries conduct routine and recurring business on the water including monitoring, research, enforcement, education and diving operations. The other vessel available to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, the 29-foot Xantu, is a small vessel suitable for day trips and education and research activities.

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is one of 13 marine sanctuaries administered by the Commerce Department's NOAA. It encompasses 1,658 square miles of water surrounding San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara Islands, extending from mean high tide to 6 nautical miles offshore around each of the five islands. A fertile combination of warm and cool currents results in a great variety of plants and animals, including nearshore kelp forests, fish, invertebrates, cetaceans, pinnipeds, and marine birds.

NOAA’s NMSP seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, 13 national marine sanctuaries encompass more than 18,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources. In addition, the NMSP is conducting a sanctuary designation process to determine if it is appropriate to incorporate the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve into the national sanctuary system.

NOAA’s National Ocean Service (National Ocean Service) manages the National Marine Sanctuary Program and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans.

National Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

The Commerce Department’s 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 resource.

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Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary: