NOAA 2006-R813
Contact: Jana Goldman
NOAA News Releases 2006
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Advanced Capabilities Provide Unique Fisheries Research Platform

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration took delivery yesterday of Henry B. Bigelow, one of a new class of fisheries survey vessels being built under contract with VT Halter Marine Inc., in Pascagoula, Miss.

Henry B. Bigelow will support NOAA research efforts in conservation and management of fisheries and marine ecosystems primarily in northeastern U.S. waters, replacing the 45-year old Albatross IV. The ship will be home ported in New England, although a permanent base has not been named. The ship will be based temporarily at Naval Station Newport, in Newport, R.I.

“The delivery of Henry B. Bigelow today is a significant milestone in the modernization of the NOAA fleet,” said Rear Admiral Samuel P. De Bow Jr., director of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, which manages the fleet, and director of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps. “Like its sister ship Oscar Dyson, Bigelow’s high-tech capabilities make it one of the most advanced fisheries research ships in the world. The advanced capabilities of Henry B. Bigelow will enable NOAA to conduct its fisheries research and assessment mission in New England with greater accuracy and cost efficiency.”

U.S. Senator and Mrs. Judd Gregg attended the keel-laying ceremony with students from Winnacunnet High School. Mrs. Gregg is the sponsor of the ship.

Senator Gregg stated, "The Henry B. Bigelow is going to have a tremendous impact on the way scientists and researchers study the health of our marine environment, especially in the Gulf of Maine and the northeast. And it is a fitting tribute to the kids from Winnacunnet that this vessel, bearing the name they chose to honor one of the most respected oceanographers in the northeast is now going to be used off our shores."

Henry B. Bigelow is the second of four 208-foot fisheries survey vessels (FSVs) to be delivered by VT Halter Marine, with the third ship, Pisces, and the as-yet unnamed fourth ship in various stages of construction. Together, these ships will expand the capabilities of the NOAA fleet greatly by meeting data collection requirements of NOAA Fisheries Service, as well as providing a cutting-edge, low acoustic signature. The FSVs will have the ability to perform hydro-acoustic surveys of fish, and will also 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.

"With delivery of the Henry B. Bigelow, NOAA is continuing to advance the ability to assess the North Atlantic ecosystem and its fisheries," said Bill Hogarth, director of NOAA Fisheries Service. "This ship will add state of the art capabilities to the long-term research activities that have been conducted in these waters as it is calibrated with the NOAA ship Albatross IV to continue the long term time series of groundfish data."

The ship is named for Henry Bryant Bigelow, the founding director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and a pioneering ocean researcher whose extensive investigations are recognized as the foundation of modern oceanography. His expeditions in the Gulf of Maine, where he collected water samples and data on the phytoplankton, fish and hydrography, made this region one of the most thoroughly studied bodies of water, for its size, in the world. NOAA ship Henry B. Bigelow is an enduring legacy of this man's vision and NOAA’s commitment to the wise stewardship of our living marine resources.

Henry B. Bigelow will depart Pascagoula in late summer for NOAA’s Marine Operations Center in Norfolk, Va., where NOAA will install and test fish handling and other specialized equipment, conduct crew training, and do other activities associated with bringing a new ship online. The ship will then sail to New England, where scientists from NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center will have an opportunity to work with the new equipment and learn ship operations along with the crew. The upcoming months will include shakedown cruises and calibration work, as well as the commissioning ceremony for the ship.

Henry B. Bigelow is the first NOAA vessel to be named by students through a NOAA educational outreach contest. A team of five students and their marine biology teacher from Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, N.H. won the contest.

Henry B. Bigelow is under the command and management of commissioned officers of the NOAA Corps. The NOAA Corps is one of the nation’s seven uniformed services. It 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. Cmdr. Stephen Beckwith, NOAA, is the commanding officer of Henry B. Bigelow. The ship’s civilian crew includes highly skilled wage mariners.

In 2007 NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. Starting with the establishment of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. The agency is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and more than 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

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