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Construction Begins on U.S. Ocean Research Fleet’s Newest Vessel

August 16, 1995

Senior officials from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the U.S. Navy attended ceremonies August 16 at Halter Marine, Inc. in Moss Point, Mississippi, for the laying of the keel for WHOI’s new research vessel, Atlantis (AGOR-25). The keel laying symbolizes the beginning of the construction of the as yet unnamed ship, which will enter service in about two and one-half years. The 274-foot ship will be the newest in the United States academic research fleet, which numbers about 25 ships.
WHOI Director Dr. Robert Gagosian, along with the Deputy Chief of Naval Research Dr. Fred Saalfeld, officiated at the keel laying ceremony. Also present at the ceremony were RADM George Davis, VI, Oceanographer of the Navy, and RADM Paul Gaffney, the new commander of the Naval Meteorological and Oceanographic Command, as well as senior representatives of the Naval Sea Systems Command. WHOI Associate Director for Research Dr. James Luyten and Marine Operations Manager Joseph Coburn also attended the ceremony. The U.S. Navy will own the vessel, which will be operated by WHOI under a charter agreement.

“AGOR-25 completes the Navy’s academic fleet modernization program begun in 1984,” WHOI Associate Director for Marine Operations Richard Pittenger notes. “This enlightened program to provide the country’s ocean scientists with robustly capable, modern ships from which to conduct global ocean research included the extensive conversion of WHOI’s Research Vessel Knorr and the Research Vessel Melville, operated by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and construction of a new class of ships, designated the AGOR-23 class, based on requirements put forth by the research community.”

Dr. Gagosian noted the importance of this long-term Navy commitment to oceanography in his remarks at the keel laying ceremony. “The U.S. Navy has played a major role in providing the facilities, instrumentation and ships for oceanography,” he said. “I’m convinced we would not have accomplished what we have accomplished in ocean sciences today without these facilities and support. It is a major reason why this nation leads the world in ocean sciences.

“WHOI is honored to be selected as the operator of this important addition to the U.S. academic research fleet,” he added. “We look forward to providing quality service to the community throughout the expected thirty years of service of AGOR-25 well into the 21st century.”

As part of the ceremony, Drs. Gagosian and Saalfeld donned protective coats, face masks and gloves and, with assistance from a Halter Marine welder, took a turn at welding a piece of the keel.

Characteristics of the AGOR-23 class of ships are as follows:

  • Length overall: 274 feet
  • Beam: 52 feet, 6 in.
  • Draft: 17 feet
  • Displacement: 3,510 long tons
  • Propulsion: Split Bus Diesel Electric Engines, Fixed Pitch Z-Drive
  • Maximum Continuous Rating: (Total – Two Electric Motors) 6,000 BHP
  • Sustained Operating Speed: 15 knots
  • Seakeeping
    Transit: 15 knots in 8-foot seas
    On-Station: 12,000 nm (plus 29 days at 3 knots with 10% reserve)
  • Total Accommodations: 59
    Crew: 20
    Scientific Personnel: 39

For additional information, contact:
Shelley Lauzon, Senior News Officer
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, 02543
508-457-2000, ext. 2270
FAX: 508-457-2180