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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 17, 2006

CONTACT:
Rachel Saunders
(831) 647-4237
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

NOAA’S MARINE SANCTUARY PROGRAM DEDICATES NEW RESEARCH VESSEL

Vessel Will Be Based at Monterey Bay
National Marine Sanctuary

NOAA today dedicated a new high-speed research vessel that will serve as an important new tool to enhance research and monitoring in the Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones, and Monterey Bay national marine sanctuaries located in offshore waters along the northern and central California coast. The vessel has been named the Fulmar, after a seabird common to the region, and will be stationed at a new floating dock next to the U.S. Coast Guard Pier at the Monterey Harbor.

“The dedication of the research vessel Fulmar fulfills our commitment to support scientific research, data collection and real-time monitoring that will lead to better ecosystem-based management of our marine sanctuaries in northern and central California,” said Brig. Gen. John (Jack) J. Kelly (USAF-ret.), deputy under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere. “The Fulmar is uniquely suited to its mission and will further our agency’s on-going quest to enhance scientific understanding and environmental stewardship of our oceans.”

Built by All American Marine of Bellingham, Wash., the 67-foot research vessel is a Teknicraft designed hydrofoil-assisted, aluminum-hulled catamaran powered by Twin Detroit series 740 horsepower diesel engines. The vessel operates with a top speed of 27 knots and a cruising speed of 22 knots. It has the ability to deploy and tow scientific equipment using its Markey oceanographic winch. A state-of-the-art Nitrox dive air system will enhance safety for diving operations, and allow sanctuary scientists better access to the underwater environment. Wet and dry laboratories will allow onboard processing of samples and data.   

“Like the seabird the vessel is named after, the Fulmar can meet demanding offshore challenges across 400 miles of coastline and nearly 7,500 square miles of ocean,” said William J. Douros, NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program west coast regional director. “This new vessel will greatly increase our capability to conduct research and monitoring operations within the three national marine sanctuaries and the information collected will help inform management decisions at all three sites.”

The Fulmar operates with a crew of two and can hold up to 30 passengers. Onboard berthing, stowage, galley and safety equipment will allow for multiple day excursions with science crews of up to 10 individuals. The vessel will be used for up to 100 missions per year. Research projects will include monitoring ocean habitats along the remote Big Sur coastline, marine mammal and seabird observations, oceanographic monitoring, archeological/cultural research, and collecting baseline data for emerging management issues such as invasive species and marine reserves. The Fulmar will also serve as a platform for teacher workshops and other education and outreach initiatives. The sanctuaries will also partner with academic and scientific institutions to complement their research efforts.

Today’s dedication, held at the U.S. Coast Guard Pier in Monterey, Calif., the vessel’s homeport and adjacent to the headquarters for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, was attended by Congressman Sam Farr, Monterey mayor Dan Albert, and Anita Ferrante, a member of the local fishing community who served as the “matriarch” of the new vessel and represented area mariners.

The Fulmar is the fourth in the line of small vessels built to the requirements defined by the NOAA sanctuary program. This twin-hull Shearwater class vessel is proceeded by the 62-foot Shearwater, supporting the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, the Peter Gladding, a 57-foot enforcement vessel stationed at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and the 50-foot Auk, supporting the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Additionally, contracts have been awarded for the construction of six additional vessels to be built for the NOAA sanctuary program in 2007-2008. These vessels demonstrate the program’s commitment to on-the-water science, education, outreach and enforcement.

The Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones, and Monterey Bay national marine sanctuaries, part of the National Marine Sanctuary system, are located adjacent to one another along the shores of north and central California and share many of the same resources and issues.  The Cordell Bank site encompasses 526 square miles of open ocean off Point Reyes, north of San Francisco.  The Gulf of the Farallones site, at 1,255 square miles, is located west of the San Francisco Bay area.  The Monterey Bay site stretches along 276 miles of the central coast and encompasses 5,328 square miles of coastal and ocean waters.

NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program seeks to increase public awareness of America’s maritime resources and maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, the sanctuary program manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument that together encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

In 2007 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 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 Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. 

NOAA is 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.

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