A quick entry on a couple of topics this week, just to keep in the habit of trying my best to keep people informed of progress.
So, let’s see. One topic that came up a couple of times this week, interestingly enough, has to do with plans for what to do with the ship AFTER it’s delivered to OSU by Gulf Island. Some might say that we’re getting ahead of ourselves with such talk, but I say it’s never too early to start planning.
After delivery, the project for vessel 1 will shift from Phase III (Construction) into Phase IV (Transition to Operations). Phase IV is scheduled to actually begin 6 months prior to delivery through 12 months after delivery at which point the ship should receive her “UNOLS Designation” which is what I like to think of as the equivalent of a diploma certifying that she’s ready to conduct real ocean science missions.
Experience has shown that ships are not like new cars. You can’t just drive one off the lot and expect it to work perfectly. There will be problems. There will likely be some big problems. These won’t necessarily be a reflection of poor work by the shipyard or its subcontractors; it’s just the way it is. So that first year is scheduled far in advance in order to create a plan that will stress the ship in every way possible so that we can unearth as many of these problems as we can before the ship is responsible to reliably support taxpayer funded science. What we want to avoid is a scenario, for example, where a science team needs to recover a series of Ocean Bottom Seismometers whose batteries are set to expire only to discover that our new ship’s main thruster’s seals don’t fit correctly and need to be removed and new seals placed in. Three weeks down time. At that point, with the batteries on the expensive sensors nearing their end, another ship would need to be diverted to save the day, setting up a chain reaction of dispossessed and disappointed science parties.
There will be more on this topic later, but it’s not too early to sort it all out. And it feeds directly into the decision that needs to be made regarding when to take OSU’s current ship, Oceanus, off line.
Also this week, the project was presented with an updated conceptual model for the next generation of coring device that will deploy from the RCRV class vessels. The new design should add a good amount of safety, reliability, and automation to the challenging operation of taking sediment cores in a seaway.
We have also nearly finalized a Request for Proposals that OSU will be issuing soon for “Inspector Services.” We will be contracting with a firm to supply a number of contractors to work at our shipyard office to support OSU’s construction oversight. This is a very important role, and we’re looking forward to eventually seeing the proposals from bidders.
And finally, the OSU team at the shipyard has moved into its new offices. They look very nice. Let’s hope this latest tropical storm decides that it’s not interested in heading towards Louisiana and our new offices!
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