On Monday, I bopped over to Gulfport, Miss., about 90 minutes from New Orleans, for the commissioning of a new 82′ survey vessel built by Geo Shipyard in New Iberia, La.
Some people may know Geo for its passenger/excursion vessels, commercial fishing vessels and crew-suppliers. But Geo has built several survey vessels in recent years, including a pair of 60′ Hysucraft(hydrofoil supported catamarans) survey vessels for the Army Corps of Engineers, Portland Ore., district. This has brought the yard, which got its start in 1979, back to its roots – geodetic survey vessels, hence the name “Geo.”
The new survey vessel for David Evans and Associates Inc.’s Marine Services Division in Biloxi, Miss., features wave-piercing bows, Tier 3 Cat diesels, twin 55-kW generators, a full suite of state-of-the-art survey instrumentation, an A frame for towing astern, a DTI survey winch and a survey strut with a moon pool for side scanning. There’s also a bow crane for side scanning in shallow water.
The Blake is named after the 19th century U.S. Coast and Geodetic survey steamer George S. Blake. The 148’x26’6″ steamer operated from 1874-1905 and was built in Baltimore at E.J. Fardy for $84,600. The oceanographic and hydrographic vessel was known for testing innovative technologies such as the Pillsbury current meter, which was the first deep-sea current meter, and the Sigbee deep-sea sounding machine. The original Blake operated in the Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
The new Blake will accommodate a crew of 10 for offshore service for up to 10 days. The vessel will operate out of Gulfport under contract to NOAA, initially performing charting surveys of Gulfport Channel and Chandeleur Sound.