NOTE: On January 25, 2012, Oceanus departed for Newport, Oregon, where it will replace its sister ship, R/V Wecoma, as the Regional Class oceanographic research vessel operated by Oregon State University.
The research vessel (R/V) Oceanus is owned by the National Science Foundation and was operated by WHOI for the past 36 years. Oceanus is a mid-sized research vessel designed for expeditions lasting two to four weeks.
It was delivered to Woods Hole in November 1975, and its first scientific voyage was made in April 1976. In 1994, the ship underwent a major mid-life refit, which included the construction of a new deck house and new pilot house, along with increases in laboratory space and accommodations for scientists. Oceanus accommodates a crew of 12 and a scientific party of 19 for up to 30 days at sea.
The ship was designed by John W. Gilbert Associates of Boston and constructed by Peterson Builders of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Its name is drawn from Greek mythology. The Titan Oceanus, father of the river gods and sea nymphs, was represented as a great stream of water encircling the Earth. Oceanus was believed to be the source of all bodies of water.
Outfitted with three winches and a crane, Oceanus is often used for deploying oceanographic buoys and moorings and for hydrographic surveys, though it is capable of all types of chemical, biological, and geological studies. Oceanus spent most of its time working in the North Atlantic, with occasional trips to the Mediterranean, South Atlantic, and Caribbean. The ship has been used extensively in recent years for studies of the Gulf Stream and the Deep Western Boundary Current, of climate change, and of harmful algal blooms (popularly called “red tides”).