NOAA 2003-R806
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani
5/20/03
NOAA News Releases 2003
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NOAA DECOMMISSIONS RESEARCH SHIP MCARTHUR; COMMISSIONS MCARTHUR II

In a special ceremony that combined two naval traditions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) decommissioned its 37-year-old research ship McArthur and commissioned its replacement, McArthur II. McArthur II is a former Navy T-AGOS vessel that was turned over to NOAA last year.

“Although I am especially sad to say goodbye to McArthur, which I commanded more than 10 years ago, we are delighted to have McArthur II to replace her,“ said Rear Admiral Evelyn Fields, director of the NOAA Commissioned Corps and NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations, which operates and manages the NOAA fleet. “McArthur has served NOAA and the nation well for many years, but McArthur II has greater capabilities and is much more suited to do the kind of work we’ve asked the older ship to do in her days of glory. McArthur II will be an outstanding part of the NOAA fleet, and will carry on the name and proud tradition of her predecessor.”

“Over the past few years NOAA has acquired and converted for research five vessels from the Navy that would have otherwise been taken out of service,” said Tim Keeney, the Commerce Department’s deputy assistant secretary for oceans and atmosphere. “These ships are on average about one-third the age of the NOAA ships they’ve replaced. Through this inter-agency cooperation, we have been able to maximize the use of national assets while decreasing the average age of the NOAA fleet and upgrading NOAA’s ship support capability and habitability.”

The decommissioned 175-ft. McArthur was originally designed for hydrographic surveying. In recent years it has primarily supported NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service and National Ocean Service, including the Sustainable Seas Expeditions that explored the depths of national marine sanctuaries in partnership with the National Geographic Society. From its home port in Seattle, Wash., the ship has supported a diverse array of NOAA programs throughout its career, more than any other ship in the fleet.

McArthur II, home ported in Seattle, was built for the U.S. Navy by Tacoma (Wash.) Boatbuilding Co. in 1982. Though the 224-ft. vessel will continue the coastal work of its predecessor, it also has the capability to conduct blue-water oceanography. Its acoustically quieted design makes it an ideal platform for marine mammal studies.

McArthur II has not undergone any structural conversion since being transferred to NOAA from the Navy’s Military Sealift Command last November. All equipment and instrumentation on McArthur has been installed on the newer vessel, so the vessel can begin working right away. The commanding officer of McArthur, Cmdr. Craig Bailey, NOAA Corps, and his officers and crew have transferred to McArthur II.

McArthur II’s first mission will be a joint survey by NOAA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and partnering West Coast states (Washington, Oregon and California) of the ecological condition of aquatic resources in near-coastal waters along the U.S. western continental shelf. The study is an expansion of EPA’s Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP), which seeks to assess condition of the nation’s environmental resources. The coastal component of EMAP on the West Coast began in 1999 with a focus on estuaries. The new summer 2003 survey, beginning June 1, extends this work to near-coastal shelf waters.

McArthur and McArthur II are named after Lt. William P. McArthur, a Naval officer who conducted the first hydrographic survey of the Pacific Coast of the United States in 1848 for the U.S. Coast Survey. McArthur’s great grandsons, Lewis and Arthur McArthur, attended the ceremony today as sponsors of McArthur II.

The NOAA fleet of research and survey ships and aircraft is operated, managed, and maintained by NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (NMAO). NMAO 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.

On the Web:

NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov

NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations: http://www.nmao.noaa.gov