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A federal research vessel operated by universities in Louisiana and Mississippi is expected to begin studies in the Gulf of Mexico in 2023.
The Louisiana Universities Marine Research Consortium and the University of Southern Mississippi are leading a consortium created for the 199-foot (60-meter) ship. Universities in every Gulf state, as well as Georgia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Mexico also are part of the group.
Research - Ships - National - Science - Foundation
It will be the third of three research ships being built for the National Science Foundation to add state-of-the-art vessels to the shrinking research fleets in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the Gulf. The agency created by Congress said last year that its oversight body authorized up to $365 million for the project.
"Scientists will use this new ship to study societally relevant topics including environmental change, the global hydrologic cycle, biodiversity in the ocean, marine mineral resources, and more." Bill Easterling, the foundation's assistant director for geosciences, said in a news release.
Scientist - Leila - Hamdan - Southern - Mississippi
Scientist Leila Hamdan at Southern Mississippi said the group will decide research and equipment priorities, and federal scientists also will have use of the vessel.
"We're very excited," LUMCON Executive Director Craig McClain said in a phone interview after Tuesday's announcement.
Ship - Size - Research - Vessels - Gulf
He said the ship is about double the size of 40-year-old research vessels currently operating in the Gulf, allowing scientists to go farther and stay longer at sea while working multiple projects instead of just one at a time.
All three are designed to run quietly and efficiently, with tools to map the sea floor and to teleconference with land-based scientists and the public.
Time - Ship - Port - Place - Shipwreck
"Every time the ship leaves port, even if it's going to look at a single place like a shipwreck," it can constantly map the sea floor, said Hamdan, associate director for USM's school of ocean science and engineering in Gulfport.
Since 21-day trips...
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