Research Vessel Prototype
Matthew Hawkins has been faced with an intriguing challenge. How do you build a better research vessel — a high-tech floating laboratory that can handle 200 days at sea a year conducting missions ranging from water chemistry analyses to scientific buoy deployments?
Hawkins, who is director of marine operations at the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies, has been working with a team of architects and marine scientists to design the new, state-of-the-art vessel that will replace UD’s long-sailing flagship, the 120-foot Cape Henlopen. The ship has been in continuous service to the oceanographic community since 1976 and will be retired in 2006.
On Wednesday, April 9, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. atthe Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Hawkins will highlight plans for the new ship in his presentation, “Sailing into the Future: Building UD’s New Research Vessel.” The lecture, which includes lunch, will conclude this season’s Wilmington Lunch and Lecture Series, sponsored by the UD College of Marine Studies and the Sea Grant College Program.
“Marine research has expanded from simple sampling operations to complex, multidisciplinary studies,” Hawkins says. “Today’s research vessel requires a higher level of sophistication, including greater lab space, lower emissions and underwater noise, enhanced positioning systems and ship-to-shore communication, and the ability to handle remotely operated vehicles and other underwater robots.”
UD’s new vessel will be 140 feet long and make use of the latest technologies and design features to assist marine scientists in the conduct of research. The ship will operate primarily in the Mid-Atlantic region with occasional work as far north as the Gulf of Maine, as far south as Florida, and as far east as Bermuda.
“The new ship will serve the scientific community well into the 21st century,” Hawkins notes. “It will be the first vessel in the U.S. academic research fleet to meet international underwater noise standards. It will feature state-of-the-art communications systems, providing a virtual link from ship to shore for data transfer for research and educational purposes. And thanks to its modular design, the vessel will be able to make use of marine fuel-cell technology as it becomes available.”
Construction of the ship is scheduled to begin in 2004, with the new vessel in operation in 2006. Funding for the ship will be provided by the University of Delaware, private donations, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research.
The lecture includes lunch at the award-winning Hotel du Pont. The cost is $15 per person. Advance reservations are required. To reserve your seat, call (302) 831-8062, or e-mail your reservations to MarineCom@udel.edu.