In October, Burger Boat Co., Manitowoc, Wis., delivered the Arcticus to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Great Lakes Science Center in Cheboygan, Mich. A little more than a week later it was on its maiden voyage, surveying trout on Lake Michigan. 

The 77'5"×26'×8'9" Arcticus is a fisheries research boat that replaces the 38-year-old Grayling, which was retired because its scientific capabilities “have outlived their usefulness,” said the Great Lakes Science Center’s Russell Strach.

He called the Arcticus 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 emissions.”

The Arcticus and the Grayling are the same size and there’s something else that’s the same — the name. But you have to be up on your Latin to pick up on that. 

It’s also necessary to realize there was a lot of support for retaining the name “Grayling.” Thus the choice of Arcticus, for Thymallus arcticus, the scientific name for Arctic grayling. 

“Arcticus means grayling in Latin,” Strach noted. “So it’s still the Grayling, in honor of the good service the old boat had.” 

JMS Naval Architects in Mystic, Conn., developed the Arcticus’s preliminary design and Burger Boat finalized the design and the construction drawings. 

Dry and wet labs are located on the main deck, with the ability to freeze and store samples.

A big part of the research 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.

Deck equipment includes a gillnet lifter and a pair of hydraulic trawl winches holding 1,500' of 3/8" wire rope. 

The new boat also has hydroacoustic capabilities. “This wasn’t available on the old Grayling. We can access prey-fish populations without handling them. We can do bottom trawling to access abundance and in parallel do hydroacoustics,” Strach said. The Arcticus also does water sampling and plankton tows. 

Propulsion for the Arcticus comes from a pair of 454-hp Caterpillar C12s that give the boat a top speed of 10.2 knots and a cruising speed of 9.5 knots. A hydraulically powered 50-hp Wesmar bowthruster is set in the bulbous bow.

Accommodations include two berths on the main deck and six below. 

The Arcticus is built for a 40- to 50-year service life. It will operate on Lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior, generally from April through November. 

“The Arcticus was built on budget, on time and consistent with the design,” said Strach.  

— Michael Crowley