Midlife refit of research vessel ‘Roger Revelle’ completed

SAN DIEGO—Research vessel (R/V) Roger Revelle, one of the largest ships in the U.S. Academic Research Fleet, has headed back to sea after a midlife refit involving upgrades from top to bottom, bow to stern. The refit will extend the service life by 15 to 20 years with improvements to systems crucial to the vessel’s operations, scientific capabilities, habitability, and environmental footprint.

The ship is owned by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and has been operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego since 1996. The $60 million revitalization was supported by ONR, the National Science Foundation, and Scripps Oceanography.

Upgrades included the addition of diesel engines that reduce emissions by up to two-thirds, ballast water systems designed to protect against the spread of invasive species, and the use of heat captured from the ship’s engine to desalinate seawater. The ship’s overboard handling systems also got an overhaul. Another major upgrade was the addition of the acoustics gondola secured below the keel.

The first research expedition on the all-new R/V Roger Revelle got underway in early

November, in a research mission led by UC Santa Barbara to retrieve ocean bottom

seismometers measuring seismic activity and to collect rocks from seamounts and underwater


The second research cruise began on Christmas day, during which R/V Roger Revelle travels to the Southern Ocean. The ship’s handling systems will be put through their paces as scientists collect samples, photographs, and sensor data to learn about plankton concentrations in eddies that form in the Southern Pacific. This 60-day expedition will also deploy biogeochemical floats for the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling project, a multi-institution program focused on unlocking the mysteries of the Southern Ocean and determining its influence on climate.


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