NOAA 2004-R838
Contact: Jeanne Kouhastani

NOAA News Releases 2004
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has exercised an option under an existing contract with VT Halter Marine Inc., of Pascagoula, Miss., to develop a contract design of a SWATH (small waterplane area twin hull) vessel. The option is valued at $795,000. The ship will be used to conduct hydrographic surveys in support of NOAA’s nautical charting mission.

VT Halter Marine Inc. and Nichols Brothers Boat Builders Inc. of Seattle, Wash., competed on the first phase of the design after being awarded identical preliminary design contracts in December 2003. After evaluating both designs, which were submitted in May, NOAA selected VT Halter Marine to do the second and final phase of the SWATH design.

In comparison, a VT Halter Marine-designed SWATH vessel would go faster, go farther before needing to return to port, have a reduced draft to enable it to go into shallower water, and include equipment for carrying a survey launch.

VT Halter Marine must complete the contract design by July 1, 2005. NOAA will then determine whether it will exercise its option to go to the construction phase.

If constructed, the SWATH vessel will be homeported in the Portsmouth N.H., area, and will replace the 38-year-old NOAA ship Rude. The vessel will be designed to operate in waters of the East and Gulf Coasts, Caribbean and Great Lakes. It will have enhanced sea-keeping ability and will therefore be a more efficient survey platform. A SWATH vessel is well suited for hydrographic surveys as it is less responsive to wave action than a mono-hull ship. Its reduced motion will result in more reliable collection of survey data.

Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, who has been instrumental in supporting NOAA's fleet modernization efforts, secured $8.3 million for the SWATH vessel in previous fiscal years. He said that “I am currently working to secure an additional $10 million to complete construction and fully outfit this ship in fiscal year 2005.”

The SWATH contract is being managed by NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations. NMAO, composed of civilians and officers of the NOAA Corps, one of the nation’s seven uniformed services, is responsible for operating, managing and maintaining the NOAA fleet of research ships and aircraft. For more information about NMAO, see:

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through research to better understand weather and climate-related events and to manage wisely the nation's coastal and marine resources. For more information about NOAA, see: