The R/V Neil Armstrong is the newest vessel in the Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institution’s (WHOI) fleet of ocean going research ships. In 2010 Office of Naval Research chose WHOI to operate of of two new research vessels planned for construction and in September of 2015, the R/V Neil Armstrong was transferred to WHOI operations. Named after the American astronaut who pushed the limits of exploration, the newly commissioned research vessel is being used to explore the world’s ocean in search for scientific knowledge.
The 238 foot ocean class research vessel is well equipped for oceanographic research. With 2557 square feet of deck space, the R/V Neil Armstrong has generous room to deploy large oceanographic equipment and moorings, complete with a 30,000 lbs. A-frame, a hydrographic crane and the ship’s crane. In addition, two 24,000 lbs. hydrographic winches and a 25,000 lbs. traction winch provide ample lifting power for oceanographic deployments. For vertical profiling, a Seabird conductivity, temperature and depth rosette is mounted to the hydrographic crane for easy water sampling and sensing on the starboard side. On-board current profilers provide oceanographers with three frequencies (38 kHz, 150 kHz, 300 kHz) for making current measurements alongs transects while a suite of multi-beam, CHIRP and midwater echo sounders provide data of on seafloor bathymetry. Science laboratories are well appointed and include a main science lab, wet lab and computer lab.
The R/V Neil Armstrong on the PEACH project runs like a well oiled machine thanks to the skilled and professional crew led by Relief Master Derek Bergeron. In addition, Two Shipboard Scientific Services Group technicians (Amy Simoneau and Cris Seaton) provide excellent scientific and technical support to the science team utilizing the ship’s wide array of oceanographic sampling equipment.
Life on board the ship is comfortable with ample space for housing the 20 crew and 24 science team members. State rooms are double bunks with shared bathrooms and a desk for working within your living quarters. Quality food is important for crew and science team morale on extended projects and the ship’s stewards are outstanding chefs that prepare remarkable food that appeals to a wide range of tastes.
The PEACH project research cruise includes many deployments of large and small oceanographic equipment. These deployments can often be complicated with large heavy equipment and lengths of chain and anchors to deploy. Safety is of the utmost importance on the deck and clear communication with the bridge and winch operators is critical for successful operations. All on deck crew and scientists involved in deployments must use proper safety gear, including hard hats, work vest PFDs and steel toed boots. The deck operations are run by Scott Loweth, a skilled Bosun who makes the most difficult deployments run smoothly.
For the science team on the PEACH project, the R/V Neil Armstrong has proven to be an excellent platform for oceanographic research, aiding oceanographers in their scientific mission to better understand the processes that drive the exchange of shelf water into the deep ocean.
For more information on the PEACH project, please click HERE.