NOAA 2004-R813
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani

NOAA News Releases 2004
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The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) welcomed its new vessel, the NOAA ship Nancy Foster, into its fleet of research and survey ships today during a traditional maritime ceremony in Charleston, S.C.

“Over the past two years, NOAA has made it a priority to modernize its fleet of ships, and the commissioning of Nancy Foster today is the latest accomplishment in that process,” said Ret. Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “With newer, better ships, we’re poised to take on the challenges that NOAA faces in upholding its missions. This ship provides scientists with resources they need to collect marine and atmospheric data and helps add to the world’s body of scientific knowledge.”

Homeported in Charleston and commanded by NOAA Cmdr. Frederick W. Rossmann, Nancy Foster conducts research along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, primarily in support of the nation’s marine sanctuaries and National Sea Grant program. Nancy Foster replaces NOAA ship Ferrel, which was decommissioned in late 2002 after 34 years of service.

Nancy Foster is a converted Navy torpedo test craft built in 1991 that was transferred to NOAA in early 2001. It began operations in May 2003 as a coastal oceanographic research vessel after its reconfiguration. It was to be commissioned in September 2003, but the ceremony was cancelled because of Hurricane Isabel.

The ship was named in honor of Dr. Nancy Foster, a NOAA scientist and executive whose work in marine ecosystems and their conservation set her apart as a pioneer and visionary, particularly her emphasis on the need to consider the interdependent role played by organisms. Foster died in 2000 after 23 years of service with NOAA.

Nancy Foster supports NOAA’s strategic goals to protect, restore and manage the use of coastal and ocean resources through ecosystem-based management. The ship is a valuable resource locally to a range of scientific initiatives. It has been involved in finding potential sand resources for future beach nourishment projects, mapping critical habitat, groundtruthing hydrodynamic studies and investigating relative sea level along the South Carolina coast.

The ship will return to Grays Reef National Marine Sanctuary after the ceremony today to conduct fisheries research, including assessing economically and ecologically important fish populations of the South Atlantic Bight, classifying ambient sound (organism and ship/boat/diver sounds) and measuring pelagic biomass using acoustic echosounders.

As part of the NOAA fleet of research and survey ships and aircraft, this ship will be operated, managed and maintained by NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations (NMAO). NMAO includes civilians and officers of the NOAA Commissioned Corps, one of the nation’s seven uniformed services. 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 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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