NEWPORT – Greeted by welcoming blasts from the horns of NOAA research ships berthed nearby, the Research Vessel Oceanus steamed under the arch of Yaquina Bay Bridge in a rainy mist on Tuesday and into her new home port at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center.
It was the end of a 28-day voyage for the Oceanus, which sailed out of its former home at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on Jan. 25 and cruised down the East Coast and through the Panama Canal before heading northward for Oregon and her new home port.
Marine science fans on both coasts were able to follow the voyage via a Webcam affixed to the ship’s mast, which also beamed its geographic coordinates to a Google map set up for the occasion.
OSU acquired the Oceanus via the University National Oceanographic Laboratory System, a consortium of 60 academic research institutions that operate 16 vessels around the country. OSU, a member of UNOLS, was retiring its venerable research vessel, The Wecoma, and looked to the consortium for a replacement. Although the two vessels are about the same age, a National Science Foundation rapid assessment determined that the Oceanus would be more cost-effective to operate for the next 5-10 years. By that time, OSU hopes to have a new ship.
The Oceanus was greeted by the same sounds that saw her off from Woods Hole: A chorus of horns from other research vessels, this time those docked at the new NOAA Marine Operations Center facility not far from the Hatfield Center docks.
A formal retirement ceremony for the Wecoma is being planned for March.
(Photos by Bruce Mate. Additional photos on the Oregon Sea Grant Flickr gallery)