and VT Halter Marine Celebrate the "Laying of the Keel" for NOAA's Two Newest Ships
15, 2007 - VT
Halter Marine Inc. and NOAA are
celebrating a construction milestone — the keel laying —
today for two new vessels at VT Halter’s Moss Point, Miss., shipyard.
A combined ceremony is being held for NOAA coastal mapping vessel Ferdinand
R. Hassler and fisheries survey ship Bell M. Shimada.
Both ships were named by student teams through regional NOAA
ship-naming contests. The two teams are actively participating in
R. Hassler is a small waterplane area twin hull coastal mapping
vessel, the first of its kind to be constructed for NOAA. Its design
is particularly suited to NOAA’s mission to map the ocean floor,
as it is less responsive to wave action than a mono-hull ship. Bell
M. Shimada is the last of four vessels of the same design to be
built for NOAA by VT Halter Marine. These sister ships are considered
among the world’s most technologically advanced fisheries
H. Sununu, wife of U.S. Senator John Sununu of New Hampshire, is the
sponsor of Ferdinand R. Hassler. Sponsors imbue the ship with
their spirit during its years of service, according to maritime tradition.
She will also attend the ceremony as the ship’s keel-laying authenticator,
signing the keel’s plaque. Susan E. Lautenbacher, wife of retired
Navy Vice Admiral Conrad
C. Lautenbacher Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans
and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, is sponsor of Bell M. Shimada,
and will authenticate that ship’s keel. With assistance from a
shipyard welder, Sununu and Lautenbacher will engrave the first initial
of their signatures on the respective keel plates, which will then be
incorporated into the ships during construction. A high-level NOAA official
will present duplicate keel plates to the student teams at their schools
in the fall.
Catherine "Kitty" Sununu, sponsor of Ferdinand R. Hassler, welding signature onto keel plate with the help of VT Halter Marine welders. (Photo: NOAA)
these ships will have very different missions, they are equally important
to NOAA’s success in meeting our strategic goals,” said
Vice Admiral Lautenbacher. “Their state-of-the-art technologies
will help NOAA more efficiently chart our waters and better assess the
health of fish stocks and ecosystems on the West Coast. Celebrating
this first important construction milestone together represents a great
leap forward in NOAA’s
fleet modernization program.”
team of four tenth-grade students and their teacher from Naugatuck High
School in Naugatuck, Conn., won the “Name NOAA’s New Ship”
regional contest with the name “Ferdinand R. Hassler.” A
team of five students and their teacher from Marina High School in Marina,
Calif., won the West Coast regional naming contest with the selection
“Bell M. Shimada.” The contests were open to all middle
and high schools in their respective regions of New England and the
West Coast. Both teams wrote essays that supported their selection of
a ship name. The NOAA contests are designed to encourage students to
learn more about the science behind the marine and coastal resources
in their regions.
Catherine "Kitty" Sununu, completing her signature on the keel plate to be fitted to the Ferdinand R. Hassler. (Photo: NOAA)
primary mission of Ferdinand R. Hassler will be to map the
waterways along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Caribbean Sea and Great
Lakes in support of the NOAA
National Ocean Service. The ship will conduct basic hydrographic
surveys of the seafloor using side scan and multibeam sonar technologies.
The vessel’s ability to monitor and detect changes to the seafloor
will enhance the nation’s commerce and security and improve our
ability to characterize marine ecosystems. Ferdinand R. Hassler
will be homeported in New Castle, N.H.
Student team from Naugatuck High School in Naugatuck, Conn., posing between keel plate and sign bearing their winning name Ferdinand R. Hassler. Left to right - Gena Spiller (teacher/chaperone), Scott Dyer (speaker), Steven Plante, Beth A. Lancaster (teacher/coordinator), Mark Lee, Michelina Cioffi. (Photo: NOAA)
M. Shimada will support the NOAA
Fisheries Service. Scientific observations and data collected onboard
will be used to manage the nation’s living marine resources of
the Pacific West Coast, where it will be home ported. This includes
support for long-term surveys for the management of groundfish stocks
of Pacific whiting and rockfish, early life history studies of salmon,
and marine mammal monitoring in the eastern tropical Pacific. The ship
will also support the Pacific Coast
Ocean Observing System, which provides ocean information to help
manage sustainable living marine resources of the California Current
Large Marine Ecosystem.
men and women of VT Halter Marine are very proud to be building these
ships for NOAA, particularly as they will serve our nation’s interests
at home and abroad,” said Boyd E. King, VT Halter Marine’s
chief executive officer. “We’ve already delivered two sister
ships of Bell M. Shimada, and we’re particularly excited
about Ferdinand R. Hassler as it’s our first ship of
its design and class.”
Vice Admiral Lautenbacher distributing certificates of appreciation to
students from the Marina High School in Marina, Calif., who named Bell M. Shimada. From left to right - Sho Nguyen (speaker), Desiree Duenas, Jessica Kim, Max Orfield, Sarah Livingston-Reed. Not shown - Principal Don Livermore. (Photo: NOAA)
first superintendent of Thomas Jefferson’s newly established Survey
of the Coast, Ferdinand R. Hassler was a key player in NOAA’s
earliest history. His scientific skill, strength of character, and indomitable
nature guided the first federal science agency through many difficult
times until his death in 1843. Hassler left a thriving organization
imbued with principles of scientific accuracy, standards, and integrity
as his gift to the American people. His legacy directly influenced 200
years of hydrographic surveys and the creation of NOAA.
Shimada was known for his distinctive mark on the study of Pacific tropical
tuna stocks. Working with interdisciplinary teams of biologists, chemists
and oceanographers, as a researcher and then team leader, Shimada developed
and published such materials on the distribution, spawning and feeding
patterns of tuna. He also coordinated international data collection
and studies for the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. Shimada’s
son, Allen Shimada, currently a fisheries scientist with NOAA, is attending
the ceremony today.
operational, the new vessels will be operated, managed and maintained
by the NOAA Office of Marine and
Aviation Operations, composed of civilians and commissioned officers
of the NOAA Corps, one of the nation’s seven uniformed services.
Susan Lautenbacher, sponsor of Bell M. Shimada, posing with Allen Shimada, a scientist with NOAA Fisheries Service, who is the son of the ship's namesake. (Photo: NOAA)
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S.
Commerce Department, is celebrating 200
years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment
of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation
of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the
1870s, much of America’s scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.
dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through
the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and
information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental
stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the
emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS),
NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and
the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that
is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.