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August 6, 2007

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NMFS Northeast Regional Office

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New NOAA Research Vessel Henry Bigelow
Science Labs
Open for Public Tours
Saturday, August 11

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Northeast Fisheries Science Center is sponsoring guided public tours of the new NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow on Saturday, August 11th from 2:30 until 6:00 PM at Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay.

Click NOAA image for larger view of NOAA's newest acoustically quiet fishery research vessel, Henry B. Bigelow. NOAA photo.

Tours will include the ship’s main science and support labs, and the state-of-the-art fish handling station. Scientists and technicians will be on hand with displays and demonstrations, ready to answer questions about the vessel’s new capabilities and how they will be used.

Visitors should wear closed-toed shoes and adults need to bring a photo ID.  All children visiting the vessel must be accompanied by an adult. The ship is not wheelchair accessible.  Visitors will board and debark over railed gangplanks.  Doorway hatches have 5-to-15-inch thresholds that must be stepped over.

The 208.6-foot, $60 million ship was built to meet the research requirements of NMFS and will operate principally in the Northeast, supporting the research mission of NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center.

The ship is the second of four in its class commissioned by NOAA and designed and built by VT Halter Marine Inc. in Moss Point, Miss. The Henry B. Bigelow and her sister ships are so quiet that they can study fish and other marine animals without significantly altering their behavior. Also, the ships can conduct bottom and mid-water trawls while running physical and biological-oceanographic sampling during a single deployment.

Bigelow trials
Click NOAA image for larger view of NOAA's newest fishery research vessel, Henry B. Bigelow, underway during sea trials. NOAA photo.

The Henry B. Bigelow was named for the founding director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution through a naming contest among school students, won by a team from Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, N.H. It will replace the NOAA Ship Albatross IV, which has conducted fisheries research cruises in the northeast since 1962. 

The Henry B. Bigelow’s commanding officer is Commander Stephen Beckwith, a NOAA Corps officer. The NOAA Corps is one of the nation’s seven uniformed services. Officers, who are scientists or engineers, command the agency’s research and survey ships and aircraft, and serve in billets on shore, bringing their operational expertise to NOAA programs. The ship’s civilian crew includes highly skilled wage mariners.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

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