Access to the Sea Fund

People and Technology at Work

Nurturing innovation and ensuring future leadership

In the 80+ years since WHOI ships first left our dock, our scientists and engineers have built a long tradition of combining cutting-edge science and technology with sea-going expertise. This is the essence of WHOI’s leadership in oceanography: Access to the Sea.

The Access to the Sea Fund was established with gifts from Gratia (Topsy) Rinehart Montgomery and Townsend Hornor to support WHOI’s at-sea research and technology development through a competitive internal proposal process. Over the years it has funded the most promising projects and people and ensured the Institution’s leading edge in oceanographic research, exploration and education.

Top Priority: WHOI's New Research Vessel

In 2010 the U.S. Navy awarded WHOI the opportunity to operate one of its two new Ocean-class vessels, the AGOR-27 (Auxiliary General-Purpose Oceanographic Research). This vessel is designed to support research in the challenging North Atlantic, as well as the world’s tropical and temperate seas, with many of the capabilities of larger ships.

As the ship's operator, the Institution must raise $7 million in Access to the Sea endowment in order to support annual operations and maintenance costs of $350,000. That investment pays dividends to WHOI researchers in preferential access to the ship for approximately 10 days each year. At a time when the U.S. research vessel fleet is shrinking, this ship offers an extraordinary opportunity for WHOI researchers to access the sea.

Support our Effort

Access to the Sea is the heart and soul of the Institution because “being there” matters. It’s the reason researchers brave the world’s most extreme weather conditions, explore the darkest depths of the ocean trenches, swim with the world’s largest marine mammals, and so much more. Scientists must be on and in the sea in order to unlock its mysteries.

Private support is the lifeline for exploration. It can accelerate the pace of discovery and innovation, significantly improve our understanding of the world’s ocean, and enhance the opportunity for wise use and stewardship. 

» Learn how you can support WHOI's efforts

Last updated: June 29, 2012