NOAA 2005-R809
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration commissioned its newly constructed fisheries survey vessel Oscar Dyson today at the ship’s home port in Kodiak, Alaska, during a ceremony based on naval traditions.

The Oscar Dyson, the first of four planned ships designed and built to NOAA specifications by VT Halter Marine Inc. in Moss Point, Miss., was named in honor of the late Alaskan fishing industry leader and christened in October 2003 by his wife, Peggy Dyson-Malson.

Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who was instrumental in obtaining funding for the ship and having it home ported in Alaska, was keynote speaker at the ceremony. His wife, Catherine Stevens, is a co-sponsor of the ship along with Mrs. Dyson-Malson. Signatures of the senator, his wife and Mrs. Dyson-Malson are inscribed on the ship’s keel plate.

Oscar Dyson’s primary mission will be to monitor the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska ecosystems, particularly Alaskan pollock, the nation’s largest fishery.

“With its state-of-the-art technology and unique research attributes, Oscar Dyson will help ensure the sustainability of Alaska’s fisheries populations and a healthy fishing industry,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The ship is also an important link in the developing Global Earth Observing System of Systems, where nations of the world will share data to take the pulse of the planet.”

The 206-ft. ship was built to meet the requirements of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service as well as to meet tough standards set by the International Council for Exploration of the Seas, a European-based organization that has developed a set of standards to optimize the effectiveness of fisheries research. Oscar Dyson has a cutting-edge, low acoustic signature, which will enable it to study fish quietly without
altering their behavior. Its hydroacoustic technology uses sound waves to “see” fish on a computer screen, which will make use of nets less important in fisheries assessments once scientists learn the signatures of different fish populations. Also, the ship will be able to conduct bottom and mid-water trawls while running physical and biological-oceanographic sampling during a single deployment—a combined capability unavailable in the private sector.

“This state-of-the-art, acoustically quiet vessel will give NOAA scientists access to advanced technologies to better understand the state of the nation’s fisheries,” said Bill Hogarth, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries Service. “The fishing industry is a large portion of the nation’s economy, and the work we do ensures the sustainable use of our ocean resources. That means providing jobs, safe and healthy seafood for consumers, and quality recreational opportunities for the American public.”

“Bringing Oscar Dyson online is a big step forward in the modernization of the NOAA fleet,” said Rear Admiral Samuel P. De Bow Jr., NOAA, director of NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations, which operates and manages NOAA ships and aircraft. “It’s the first new ship built specifically for NOAA in the past quarter century, and we’re excited that three more new NOAA ships with the same capabilities will be built and operating off the U.S. east, west, and Gulf coasts in the next few years.”

Oscar Dyson’s commanding officer is Commander Frank Wood, a NOAA Corps officer. The NOAA Corps is one of the nation’s seven uniformed services. Officers—who are scientists or engineers—command the agency’s research and survey ships and aircraft, and serve in billets on shore, bringing their operational expertise to NOAA programs. The ship’s civilian crew includes highly skilled wage mariners.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, 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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