NOAA’s effort to recapitalize its aging fleet of research ships took a major step forward with the U.S. Navy’s award of a $178,082,877 contract to Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors LLC of Houma, Louisiana, for the detailed design and construction of two new oceanographic ships for the agency.
NOAA is acquiring the vessels through an agreement with the Naval Sea Systems Command, which builds, provides and procures large research ships for the U.S. research fleet.
The first ship, to be named “Oceanographer,” will be homeported in Honolulu. The second ship, to be named “Discoverer,” will be assigned a homeport at a future date. Both vessels will continue the legacies of their namesakes. The first Oceanographer served in the NOAA fleet from 1966 to 1996, and its sister ship, Discoverer, served from 1967 to 1996.