Friday, October 9, 2015

Willard Marine Wins NOAA Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

Anaheim-based boat builder Willard Marine has won a contract to provide the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with three aluminum hydrographic survey launch (HSL) ships, the company announced Oct. 1.

The three 28-foot vessels are to be used on the coastal waters of the United States to conduct oceanographic surveys with hull-mounted and towed sonar units. A Cummins QSC8.3 engine capable of 510 HP will power the boats through a ZF Marine 305-2 transmission.

Outfitted to support traditional manned survey operations, the HSLs will, according to Willard Marine, offer additional flexibility to add unmanned autonomous capability. Two Willard Marine HSLs are expected to be built for the 208-foot NOAA ship Thomas Jefferson, and an additional Willard Marine HSL is planned for the 231-foot NOAA ship Rainier.

The crews of the Thomas Jefferson and Rainier conduct hydrographic surveys for the primary purpose of updating NOAA’s suite of nautical charts. Commercial shipping, commercial fishing and recreational vessels all rely on accurate NOAA nautical charts for safe navigation of coastal water in the United States.

“NOAA has been procuring fiberglass SOLAS rescue boats from Willard Marine since 2004,” Willard Marine President Ulrich Gottschling said, “and we are proud to continue serving them with larger, aluminum survey ships to support their very important charting responsibilities,” Gottschling added.

The customized HSLs for NOAA are derived from a former SeaArk Marine commercial boat design that Willard Marine acquired the licensing rights to last year. The HSLs are scheduled to be delivered to NOAA in fall 2016.