URI to get new $120M ocean research vessel

A CONSORTIUM at the University of Rhode Island has received federal funds to build a ship to replace the Research Vessel Endeavor, pictured above, for $120 million. The ship will be operated on behalf of the National Science Foundation. / COURTESY OFFICE OF SEN. JACK F. REED

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island will land a new “state-of-the-art” ocean research vessel for use by a consortium led by the University of Rhode Island, U.S. Sen. Jack F. Reed’s office announced this week.

The Rhode Island democrat helped secure federal funding to build the new ship, which is expected to be delivered in 2021. It will be built by the National Science Foundation. The ship will be based out of URI’s Bay Campus in Narragansett for use by scientists, educators, and students.

“This is a big win for Rhode Island,” Reed said in a statement. “This new cutting-edge research vessel will be homeported in Rhode Island and will enable URI researchers and their partners to more efficiently explore, collaborate, and conduct global ocean research.”

The 200-foot-long vessel will be able to stay at sea for up to three weeks at a time, with a cruising range of 5,400 nautical miles. It will have a positioning system that enables it to stay in one exact spot for long times.

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It will replace the Research Vessel Endeavor, a 185-foot-long vessel that URI has operated for more than 40 years that is scheduled for retirement in the next five years. The ship has traveled more than a million nautical miles from the Arctic to the South Pacific, conducting more than 600 research expeditions, Reed’s office said.

The new ship will be available to a consortium led by URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography. Its two main partners are the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts and the University of New Hampshire.

The consortium also has 11 associate members that include Brown University, Harvard University, Columbia University, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Maine.

The new ship will be built outside New England at a cost of about $120 million, entirely federally funded. It is part of a proposed federal funding package of about $365 million to build three research ships. So far, about $250 million has been approved, according to Reed’s office.

The first ship will be based in Oregon and the second ship will be based in Rhode Island. The location for the third ship has not yet been finalized, Reed’s office said.

Scott Blake is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Blake@PBN.com.