A new ocean research ship is heading to Hawaii after more than $200 million in federal funding has been secured for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.
NOAA announced Tuesday that it is acquiring two new ocean research ships, one of which will be homeported in Honolulu. The Oceanographer is expected to replace NOAA Ship Hiialakai, which retired early due to extensive corrosion.
The new ships will continue to support NOAA’s missions of ocean research, marine life exploration, and climate and ocean ecosystem studies.
“These new ships will make sure NOAA can continue to do the critical research work we need to protect our oceans and Hawaii’s natural resources, including Papahanaumokuakea,” said Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Schatz said he helped secure the $200 million over three years for NOAA to update its aging vessels, and has asked for a full assessment of the fleet.
Both research ships will be built in the United States, with contracts for construction to be awarded by the end of the year. The target launch date for the ships has yet to be determined, and the second ship, the Discoverer, will be assigned a homeport at a future date.
Currently, NOAA has a fleet of 15 active research and survey ships, with which it conducts more than 100 missions a year, collecting data for nautical charts, fishery quotas, storm surge modeling, and climate research.