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Recovery Act Dollars at Work: Two New Research Vessels to Join USGS Great Lakes Fleet

USGS floating laboratories under construction.
USGS floating laboratories under construction. (Image credit: Timothy Cherry, Ship Operator and Large Vessel Safety Manager, U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Timothy Cherry, Ship Operator and Large Vessel Safety Manager, U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center)

This Research in Action article was provided to LiveScience in partnership with the National Science Foundation.

Two very large aluminum-welded Great Lakes research vessels will join the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Great Lakes Science Center (GLSC) fleet this fall.

These large research vessels are essentially floating scientific laboratories, enabling USGS researchers to explore the health and population status of biological organisms that are important for Federal, State and Tribal resource managers to protect the area's $7 billion annual commercial and sport fisheries.

The new vessels will replace the oldest vessels in the fleet — those on lakes Erie and Ontario — and will have greater research capabilities, increased fuel efficiency and lower maintenance costs.

"The two new vessels will provide safe and reliable platforms for scientists, and will be equipped with state-of-the-art scientific instrumentation to improve our understanding of deep-water ecosystems and fishes in lakes Erie and Ontario," said Russell Strach, Director of the GLSC.

"I am very excited about the opportunity to replace the oldest vessels in our fleet, functioning on technologies in the 1950s and 1960s."

The expected date of completion is September 2011. Plans for commissioning and christening ceremonies for each vessel are underway.

The USGS awarded an $8.2 million contract to the Great Lakes Towing Company (Cleveland, Ohio) in June 2010 for the construction of the two large vessels. Funding for the contract came from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The GLSC is the only Federal Center that has a large scientific research vessel stationed on each of the Great Lakes capable of working for extended periods of time in offshore, deep-water areas. The research programs facilitated by the GLSC's fleet are critical to managing and conserving Great Lakes resources, and are used by Great Lakes State, Provincial, and Tribal management agencies across the basin.

The GLSC's mission is tomeet the Nation's need for scientific information for restoring, enhancing, managing and protecting living resources and their habitats in the Great Lakes basin ecosystem.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. See the Research in Action archive.