NOAA research vessel returns from longest deployment in agency history

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel Ronald H. Brown returned to its Charleston, S.C., homeport Monday after 1,347 days at sea — the longest deployment of any NOAA ship ever.

During its three-and-a-half-year voyage, the ship traveled nearly 130,000 miles as it conducted scientific research and serviced buoys that collect a wide variety of environmental data. Since departing Charleston on July 18, 2013, the ship has:

  • recovered, serviced and deployed more than 80 buoys that monitor ocean and weather conditions in the tropical ocean, including El Niño
  • studied ocean acidification, intense moisture-bearing winter storms known as “atmospheric rivers” off the U.S. West Coast, and took part in an unprecedented multi-agency rapid response mission to observe the 2015-2016 El Niño
  • taken more than 1,600 water measurements in the Atlantic Ocean, from Iceland to Antarctica, and in the Pacific Ocean, from Alaska to Antarctica, to better understand the ocean’s physical properties and long-term changes in those properties
  • surveyed 353,975 square miles of seafloor, including a project near Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll in the Pacific, to map the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf
  • conducted ecological assessments of bays on the north slope of Alaska, and fisheries and oceanographic studies off the Arctic coast of Alaska

“My congratulations and thanks to the officers and crew of NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown for their hard work, dedication and service during this extended and unprecedented deployment,” said Rear Adm. David A. Score, director of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations. “Working from ocean to ocean and from pole to pole, the ship and her crew have expanded our understanding of some of nature’s most powerful forces.”

The 274′ ship is a global-class oceanographic and atmospheric research platform operated by NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, which is comprised of civilians and NOAA Corps officers. Up to 60 officers, crew and scientists were on the ship at one time.

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