The University of Connecticut held a recommissioning ceremony on Thursday morning for the school’s marine research ship, the Research Vessel Connecticut, at its home on the UConn Avery Point campus.
The 19-year-old ship has gone through a total makeover over the past year that increased its length from 76 feet to 90 feet. The work doubled the laboratory space on board and increased the number of bunks from 12 to 18, allowing for missions at sea of up to 14 days.
“Not every university president gets to recommission a vessel,” said President Susan Herbst, moments before she performed the traditional breaking of a bottle of champagne against the ship. “I feel bad for those land-locked presidents. We are a Sea Grant institution, and that is a very important part of our mission.”
The R/V Connecticut has been used extensively over the years by UConn researchers in addition to other groups that have chartered it, including the U.S. Navy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
In its previous five years of service, the ship spent 474 days at sea and traveled 38,721 miles.
“There is great work being done on this ship, from the study of coastal resilience to the study of maritime activity,” said Herbst. “With the R/V Connecticut now being able to spend up to 14 days at sea, it greatly increases our research opportunities.”
The head of the marine sciences department, J. Evan Ward, discusses the significance of the research vessel to the department’s research efforts in this video clip:
UConn’s Department of Marine Sciences, which is housed at Avery Point, has 55 undergraduate majors and 40 graduate students, with 20 tenure/tenure track faculty.
During the past 18 months, the faculty of the department have been awarded over $10 million in federal and state grant support.
“With the modern infrastructure, and continuous support such as that provided for the refurbishing of the R/V Connecticut, the faculty of marine sciences has been able to accomplish great things and fulfill their commitment to excellence in scientific research and graduate and undergraduate research,” said Professor J. Evan Ward, head of the marine sciences department.
“So where are we going from here with our renovated vessel? As one quick example, this semester marks the inaugural class of a newly developed interdisciplinary graduate course in which students are preparing for and then undertaking a three-day, two-night research expedition on Long Island Sound. The course is a stimulating and exciting experiential learning opportunity.”