Thursday, August 14, 2008

Passing the torch - NOAA's fleet moves forward

This week in Seattle, NOAA has both closed a chapter in its operation of science vessels and opened a new chapter in both ship operations and ocean exploration. The closing regards the decommissioning of the R/V John N. Cobb. The Cobb wa sthe oldest of NOAA's research vessels, and the last one with a wooden hull. I have a soft spot in my heart for wooden boats, as my long time readership of Wooden Boat magazine will no doubt attest.
I had the pleasure of walking her decks when I lived in Seattle. Her lines were sweet, and you could actually smell the fish oil and the salt air in all her spaces. The Cobb was an important part of NOAA's long history of fish science studies in Alaska every summer, as well as Puget Sound. Her crew are understandably saddened that she is now tied up permanently, but their many memories and many contributions will not soon be forgotten.
Across town, however, NOAA commissioned its newest ship, the Okeanos Explorer. The Explorer will now ply the seas to help unlock the mysteries of our deepest, darkest places. This is an entirely new mission for NOAA - one not driven by laws, lawsuits or Cogressional pork. For a few cool videos, see this link and this one (click on the title "Seattle Ship Will . . . ").
Sojoin me in thanking the Cobb and her crew for their service, and welcoming the Okeanos to the Nation's ocean fleet. It should be a great ride.

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