Sometime late this fall, Burger Boat Co. in Manitowoc, Wis., is scheduled to start cutting steel for the 77’5″×26’×11′ Grayling, a fisheries research vessel that will replace a boat of the same name and size for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Great Lakes Science Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.
JMS Naval Architects, Mystic, Conn., developed the Grayling’s preliminary design and Burger Boat is finalizing the design and the construction drawings.
The scientific capabilities on the 38-year-old boat that’s being retired “have outlived their usefulness,” said the Great Lakes Science Center’s Russell Strach. It’s being replaced with a “state-of-the-art scientific research vessel that has a modern lab for assessing fish communities and modern propulsion systems that are more fuel efficient to reduce emission.”
Dry and wet labs will be located on the main deck, said the yard’s Ron Cleveringa. The labs will have the ability to freeze and store samples.
A big part of the Grayling’s work is to “access the prey-fish communities,” said Strach. These are fish, such as smelt and bloaters, that sport fish feed on. “The other important task is assessing lake-trout populations.” Data from this work plays a major role for fisheries management throughout the Great Lakes.
Gillnets and bottom trawls will be used for fish collection. Deck equipment will include a gillnet lifter and a pair of hydraulic trawl winches holding 1,500′ of 3/8″ wire rope. A knuckle-boom crane and a smaller telescoping crane will move gear around on deck and over the side.
The boat will also have hydroacoustic capabilities. “This wasn’t available on the old Grayling,” said Strach. “We can access prey-fish populations without handling them. We can do bottom trawling to access abundance and in parallel do hydroacoustics.” The Grayling will also handle water sampling and plankton tows.
Propulsion power will come from a pair of 454-hp Caterpillar C12s that will give the boat a top speed of 10.5 knots and a cruising speed of 9.5 knots. Wesmar is supplying a hydraulically powered 50-hp bowthruster to be installed in the bulbous bow.
The new Grayling is being designed and built for a 40-to 50-year service life. Delivery is scheduled for October 2014. The vessel will be based in Cheboygan, Mich., and operate on lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior, generally from April through November.