The 187-foot Albatross IV, designed by Dwight S. Simpson and Associates of Boston and built by the Southern Shipbuilding Corporation of Slidell, Louisiana, was designed specifically to conduct fisheries and oceanographic research. The first stern trawler to be built in the United States, the vessel was commissioned in May 9, 1963 and departed on its first research cruise five days later from the Woods Hole Laboratory of what today is the National Marine Fisheries Service. Secretary of the Interior Steward L. Udall participated in those ceremonies.
Albatross IV has spent much of its career conducting resource surveys assessing the health and population structure of finfish and scallops on the Northeast continental shelf, marine mammal surveys, and studies of plankton and larval fish abundance. The bulk of its work, however, has been conducting annual spring and fall bottom trawl surveys, helping to provide the foundation for managing fishery resources and for ecological research, and contributing significantly to the NEFSC’s unique data library, including the world’s longest time series of standardized fishery population data.
The decommissioning of the ship on November 20, 2008 at its home port in Woods Hole, Mass., marked the end of an era for research ships that bear the name Albatross.