By Mark Edward Nero
The California Department of Water Resources in late December commissioned a new research vessel, the Sentinel, as a replacement for the San Carlos, which had been monitoring water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and upper San Francisco Estuary since 1976.
The construction project began in February 2015, and the vessel was launched by Seattle-based builder Vigor Industrial in October 2016. Sea trials have been occurring since the launch.
The Sentinel is a floating laboratory whose mission is to protect water quality. The DWR has said the research vessel plays a critical role helping to meet water quality objectives and the mandated requirements of biological opinions issued by the courts to guide water quality issues in the Delta.
The Sentinel was named by DWR Director Mark W. Cowin, who retired at the end of 2016 after a 36-year career with the department. Cowin named the vessel to honor the late Laura King Moon, DWR’s former Chief Deputy Director who died in 2015.
“Laura King Moon worked tirelessly as a guardian of California’s water supply and its environment,” Cowin said.
The Sentinel replaces the San Carlos, which for 40 years gathered information that informed water quality analysis, biological opinions and State Water Project (SWP) decisions.
The Sentinel’s characteristics, according to the CDWR, include:
• Length – 60 feet
• Beam – 24 feet
• Draft – Three feet, six inches
• Weight – 36 tons
• Engines – twin Cummins QSB 6.7 conventional propulsion – 419 HP
• Speed – 20 knots
• 14-foot work skiff with 30 HP motor
• Lab Area – 266 square feet
• Aft deck work area – 337 square feet
• Three 3,300-pound-capacity cranes