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December 23, 2015
Contact: Shelley Dawicki

Gloria Michelle in Woods Hole
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R/V Gloria Michelle (left) at the NEFSC dock in Woods Hole on September 22, 2015. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries/Doug Pawlishen

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NEFSC’s R/V Gloria Michelle Gets a Makeover

For NOAA Corps officers Lt (jg) Douglas Pawlishen and Lt (jg) Andrew Reynaga, the past year has been a whirlwind. Pawlishen took command of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC)’s 72-foot steel-hulled research vessel Gloria Michelle as officer in charge on December 17, 2014, with Reynaga as junior officer in charge. The two-person crew immediately set to work on a variety of ship maintenance issues.

The vessel was tied up at the Woods Hole Laboratory pier at the end of the 2014 field season and was in need of some major repair. Many years of survey work had taken a toll on the vessel and it needed some attention to be brought into compliance with current operational and safety regulations.

In less than 90 days during the winter of 2015, Gloria Michelle underwent a number of major repairs, starting with the main engine overhaul. The tired engine was torn down to the bare engine block and totally rebuilt with new parts. The reduction gear was also hauled out of the vessel and rebuilt, and a fuel tank was cleaned and inspected. A faulty weld was found between the hydraulic tank and a fuel tank that allowed hydraulic fluid to flow into the fuel tank. During welding work to repair those tanks, the ship’s galley had to be torn apart and removed. Once the welding was completed, Pawlishen and Reynaga rebuilt the galley.

Other work included replacing the ship’s generator, installing a new electrical panel, installing new escape hatches to replace aging ones, repairing winch brakes, installing a new boiler exhaust and reconfiguring the boiler to provide heat for the vessel and renew the vessel’s diminished hot water capabilities.

In addition, the failing marine sanitation device (MSD) system was removed and replaced, piping repaired for the bilge pump, deck and operational lights and wiring repaired or replaced, and upgrades made to the ship’s navigation system with the installation of a redundant navigation computer.

One of the more visible repairs while the ship remained dockside at the Woods Hole Laboratory was the removal and replacement of weakened mast supports and rails. Once the new supports were in place, new radar and a satellite compass were installed.

Getting this work done was not an easy task, as the winter of 2015 was one of the coldest and snowiest on record. The ship’s operating season began in early May, and while the scheduled dockside work was completed days before, other equipment had to be repaired or replaced after failures at sea. Among them: replacement of the net reel motor and main engine keel cooler elbows and the capstan control valve.

Through it all Gloria Michelle completed the annual spring and fall state fisheries surveys and the summer Gulf of Maine shrimp survey.

Just days after completing the fall groundfish survey in inshore waters for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Gloria Michelle departed Woods Hole October 10 and headed to Yank Marine in Tuckahoe, New Jersey, transiting through Long Island Sound and New York via the East River. Sixty-five days of extensive work and repairs followed at the shipyard. Pawlishen and Reynaga were on hand for much of that time as the vessel was hauled out and repairs made. The entire vessel was sandblasted, had significant amounts of wasted metal replaced with fresh steel, and was painted blue (hull) and white.

With its new look, Gloria Michelle quietly returned to port in Woods Hole December 17, 2015, one year to the day its new officers began their journey together aboard the ship.

“Coordination and cooperation among NEFSC staff with varying expertise was a key factor in getting the job done,” said Jack Moakley, chief of the Operations, Management, and Information Branch. Hats off to Lieutenants (jg) Doug Pawlishen and Andy Reynaga for their hard work and dedication on restoring the vessel so that it can continue its legacy of conducting science and sail for years to come.

The 2016 operating year will be here soon.

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The Northeast Fisheries Science Center conducts ecosystem-based science supporting stewardship of living marine resources under changing climatic conditions. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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