NSF Oceanographic Research Ship to be Named for Gulf Coast Civil Rights Icon
A Gulf Coast civil rights icon is being honored as the namesake of a new, $100 million National Science Foundation (NSF) oceanographic research ship, to be operated by the Gulf – Caribbean Oceanographic Consortium (GCOC), led by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM).
NSF officials have informed the National Science Board that the ship, which is under construction and will have dual homeports at the Port of Houma and Gulfport, MS will be named Research Vessel (R/V) Gilbert R. Mason. For decades until his death in 2006, Dr. Gilbert Rutledge Mason Sr. was a pioneering Civil Rights leader and physician to the mariner community along the Gulf Coast. The slogan for the ship will be aequa mari, meaning equal access to the sea, to honor his life’s work and legacy.
“The National Science Foundation has a long history of advocating for inclusion in research, knowing that inclusive science yields the most complete perspectives and outcomes,” said Terrence Quinn, NSF’s Division Director for the Division of Ocean Sciences. “Commemorating Dr. Mason’s life and achievements will be a good reminder that this NSF-owned research vessel will not only open the waters to further discovery, but it will open opportunities for a wide range of researchers.”
“The naming of this vessel after Dr. Mason serves as an important reminder that great discoveries result from the intersection of innovative ideas and inclusive practices,” said Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed. “I am delighted that this new vessel will carry with it the spirit of two generations of the Mason family, trailblazers with both Mississippi and Louisiana roots—as Dr. Mason’s son, a graduate of Tulane University, provided medical care to mariner communities. The Louisiana Board of Regents and our LUMCON partners look forward to embarking on new voyages, opening doors to opportunity and continuing our quest for equitable talent development in Louisiana with the RCRV serving as a beacon for this work.”
“The lives of Dr. Gilbert Mason and his son are a lesson in equality, their legacy a call for action,” said LUMCON Executive Director Craig McClain. “The naming of the RCRV for the Masons is a first step towards greater inclusivity and diversity in ocean science. Inspired by their legacy, LUMCON is excited for the next steps, leveraging the RCRV and the consortium’s programs to expand and develop opportunities for those currently underserved in science. We are dedicated to honoring the elder Dr. Mason’s memory with a commitment to accessible oceans and science for all the communities of the Gulf and Caribbean.”
You can read the full press release here.
You can visit our RCRV webpage using this link.