A third NSF vessel will come here to the Gulf Coast through a cooperative agreement between NSF and the Gulf-Caribbean Oceanographic Consortium co-led by LUMCON and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM).
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is building three new Regional Class Research Vessels (RCRV). The RCRVs are state-of-the-art research vessels approximately 200 feet in length and capable of taking a complement of 29 crew and scientists to sea for 21 days. They will be fully equipped to complete ocean crossings and operate in light ice.
NSF will spend at least $318 million to build the three vessels right here in Terrebonne Parish at Gulf Island Fabrication in Houma. The first two RCRVs have been awarded to Oregon State University (West Coast) and the University of Rhode Island (East Coast). The third vessel will come here to the Gulf Coast through a cooperative agreement between NSF and the Gulf-Caribbean Oceanographic Consortium co-led by LUMCON and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). This vessel is slated to be completed in 2023 and will become fully operational after a year of rigorous sea trials.
LUMCON currently operates one of the most substantial oceanographic research programs and maintains one of the largest fleets of research vessels in the Gulf of Mexico. Therefore, the collaborative partnership co-led by LUMCON and USM was a natural fit to enhance the oceanographic research assets of the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Craig McClain, Executive Director of LUMCON, said, “The RCRV gives scientists the capacity to work across the Gulf of Mexico and into the Caribbean Sea or the Atlantic Ocean for longer periods of time than has ever been possible before, and with more equipment and technology on board.”
Here in Louisiana there was widespread support for a LUMCON/USM co-led RCRV. In a press release from the Office of the Governor, Gov. John Bel Edwards said, “This is something that we have been working on for the last three years, and we are excited to see it come to fruition. It’s also a double win for our state with Louisiana shipbuilders constructing the vessels here and LUMCON operating one as well.”
The Louisiana Board of Regents supported the LUMCON grant by providing $500,000 in match from the Board of Regents Support Fund, and is excited about the potential of this collaborative partnership. “The research and innovation that can be achieved through the use of this new scientific vessel is unlimited and will undoubtedly impact the prosperity of Louisiana’s communities and economy in a positive way,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed.
Everyone involved with the RCRV proposal appreciates NSF for building the vessels and giving the Gulf of Mexico the opportunity to be home to one of these new vessels. Click here to read the full press release from the Office of the Governor.
Click here to see renderings of the vessels.