ARLINGTON, Va.—Construction on two new research vessels funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) officially got underway with a keel-laying and dedication ceremony Aug. 17 in Anacortes, Wash., at Dakota Creek Industries shipyard.
Contracts for both state-of-the-art Ocean-class Auxiliary General Purpose Oceanographic Research (AGOR) vessels were awarded in late 2011 and earlier this year, according to a press release. During the traditional ceremony, the first pieces of steel comprising the keels for AGOR 27 and 28 were etched with the keel certifiers’ initials.
“Gaining exact knowledge and understanding of the oceans is critical to fulfilling today’s and tomorrow’s Navy and Marine Corps missions,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, at the ceremony. “Research vessels like AGOR 27 and 28 provide us the best opportunity to gather scientific data that is important for understanding the complex ocean properties impacting the performance and capabilities of our sailors and Marines.”
For a view of the vessel design and a review of their capabilities, watch the following video:
The design and construction of both vessels will be managed by the Naval Sea Systems Command. Each is expected to be completed in the next 30 to 36 months, with delivery scheduled for late 2014 for AGOR 27 and early 2015 for AGOR 28, according to the release.
Once completed, AGOR 27 will be operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and AGOR 28 will be managed by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography under charter party agreements with ONR. Both ships will be supporting scientists with ongoing research worldwide, including in the Atlantic, western Pacific and Indian oceans in a wide variety of missions.
“These will be the first new ships ONR has built in 15 to 20 years by the time they launch—so they represent the latest in shipbuilding technology, as well as capabilities for oceanographic research that will take us well into the mid-21st century,” said Dr. Frank Herr, director of ONR’s Ocean Battlespace Sensing Department, in a statement.
Both ships will have the ability to sail at a sustained speed of 12 knots and will have 20 berths allotted for crew members and 24 for scientists. Some of the high-tech features planned include: acoustic navigation and tracking systems that operate at various depths; a specially designed hull that diverts bubbles from the acoustic sensor area; a centralized freshwater cooling system to provide heating, ventilation and air conditioning; and dual-controllable propellers with variable speed motors for increased efficiency.