The AGOR 27 R/V Neil Armstrong and AGOR 28 R/V Sally Ride are the third and fourth complex research vessels in GPA’s diverse portfolio and will follow in the footsteps of the RV Kilo Moana (AGOR-26), the first GPA-developed research vessel, in replacing aging Intermediate Class ships. These newer vessels offer unprecedented opportunities for larger, interdisciplinary science teams of up to 25 members, utilizing highly developed research equipment.
Constructed at Dakota at Dakota Creek Industries (DCI), the navy-owned, advanced oceanographic research vessels have the capability of carrying sufficient supplies and support systems to stay at sea for up to 40 days, covering up to 10,000 nautical miles and withstanding high sea and wind conditions.
These capabilities, combined with the ability to operate 75% of the time during the Pacific Northwest and North Atlantic’s winter months and powerful ocean exploration equipment and instrumentation, will provide for superior operations. The highly developed equipment includes:
- A multibeam seafloor mapping system for deep and shallow water
- A sub-bottom profiler to map sediments below the seafloor
- An acoustic doppler current profiler to map currents throughout the water column
- Precise navigation tools for tracking instruments in the water beneath the ship
- An array of networked sensors to measure atmospheric and ocean properties.
The total variable science load, in part stored in up to 2,000 ft² of internal labs and facilities, is 100-200 long tons. These facilities include a wide variety of lab types with re-configurable benches, cabinetry and special electrical requirements, storage for hazardous materials, repair facilities for equipment and systems providing uncontaminated seawater.
Besides the indoor facilities, the scientists require a 2,000 ft² working area in the stern up top that can handle a range of temporary equipment, 80 ft² of clear deck area alongside one rail, as well as a range of recovery equipment, including winches, wires, cranes, frames, booms and others. Other deck areas will be used to handle incubators, vans, workboats and other temporary equipment.
Acoustic characteristics of the vessel are another important factor in this project due to sensitive instrumentation and experiments, as well as modern crew comfort requirements. The vessel was designed to meet all Navy noise and vibration requirements through a careful analysis of equipment selection and location, as well as noise insulation treatments.
Emphasis was also placed on the vessel’s ability to operate in rough weather for extended periods of time in a safe and efficient manner. This required GPA to integrate many different systems for remote and automated controls. Major systems include:
- Integrated Diesel-Electric Plant Design with ABS ACCU notation
- Dynamic Positioning capabilities and precise vessel maneuvering requirements
- State of the art deck handling systems with high levels of remote operation capability.
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