By Mark Edward Nero
Representatives from the US Navy joined elected officials and the oceanographic community to celebrate the launch of America’s newest research vessel. On Oct. 28, a new US Navy auxiliary general purpose oceanographic research vessel, R/V Sally Ride, was commissioned during a ceremony at Broadway Pier in San Diego.
This is the second ship of its class built by Anacortes, Washington-based Dakota Creek Industries. The shipbuilder also constructed the R/V Neil Armstrong, which was delivered to the Navy in September 2015.
The ship is named in honor of the late Sally Ride, who became the first American woman in space aboard space shuttle Challenger in 1983, and later joined the faculty of the University of California, San Diego as a professor of physics.
Ride died of pancreatic cancer in 2012.
The R/V Sally Ride will be operated by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography under a charter party agreement with the Office of Naval Research. The vessel has accommodations for 24 scientists and will operate with a crew of 20 personnel.
The vessel is based on a single-hull commercial design; it measures about 238 feet long and incorporates the latest technologies, including high-efficiency diesel engines, emissions controls for stack gasses, and new information technology tools both for monitoring shipboard systems and for communicating with the world.
“As a Scripps graduate, career oceanographer and naval officer, I cannot think of a more exciting event than this commissioning,” oceanographer and navigator of the Navy, Rear Adm. Timothy Gallaudet said during the event. “Scripps is obtaining a capital asset; this vessel will advance our understanding of the oceans for decades, and we need this understanding in order to protect our country, our interests, and our allies.”
Climate change, the study of fisheries, and understanding sound in the sea are three primary research efforts Sally Ride will explore in its upcoming travels, Gallaudet said.