Naval Ship Turned Exploration Vessel

Picture courtesy of NOAA

During highschool I studied maritime archaeology and enjoyed it immensely. I created a form sheet that I could use to catalogue the shipwrecks I studied because I wanted to have the details “spelled” out for me. I like details, or records. I take delight in having everything well documented, in its place, and easily accessible. If the article/story I read didn’t have the ship’s specifications already collected I would collect the information myself. To some people this might be boring and a waste of time, but keeping good records is never to be scorned.

Today’s post is following the line I started a few days ago documenting, in my own way, the NOAA Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition 2013. I wanted to first take a look at the Okeanos Explorer itself before moving to the dives and marine life they’ve observed.

Okeanos Explorer

Picture courtesy of NOAA

Name: Okeanos Explorer, from the Greek “Okeanos”, for ocean
Formerly: Naval surveillance T-AGOS class ship Capable
LOA (length over all): 224 feet
Breadth: 43 feet
Draft: 15 feet
Displacement: 2,298.3 metric tons
Berthing: 46
Main propulsion: Diesel electric with twin inboard turning screws
Speed: 10 knots
Endurance: 40 days at sea
Built: 1987 by VT Halter Marine, Inc., Moss Point, MS
Home port: Kingstown, Rhode Island, USA
Mission: mapping, site characterization, reconnaissance, and education and outreach

NOAA obtained the vessel in September of 2004. They began refitting her for ocean exploration in 2005, and she was commissioned the 13th of August 2008, during which time they installed an the ROV hangar and forecastle, a new stern deck, and a Telepresence satellite dome, enabling them to stream live footage to onshore scientists all over the world. The Okeanos Explorer is also equipped with hull-mounted, multi-beam sonar as deep as 6,000 meters, as well as two permanent ROV’s, of which I will speak more on later.

Picture courtesy of NOAA

The Okeanos was formerly a Naval vessel called the Capable, used for ocean surveillance with the singular purpose of gathering underwater acoustical data. Now NOAA is utilizing the ships scientific abilities to observe and examine the oceans topography, marine life and underwater communities, among other things.

Known as “America’s Ship for Ocean Exploration”, the Okeanos has been on at least five separate expeditions, from the Indonesian ‘Coral Triangle Region’, and the Gal├ípagos to the Mid-Cayman Rise within the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. Presently they are in the Northeast U.S. canyons, where they “expect to explore cold seeps, deep coral communities, undersea canyons, landslide features, and a seamount.” Having completed the first leg of their journey, the crew of the Okeanos has taken break in New York, but will be out on the second leg in no time.

You can watch live footage from the expedition by clicking here. If you have any questions leave me a comment, or take a look at their page, Okeanos Explorer.

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