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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Auxiliary General Oceanographic Research (AGOR) Vessels

Program Summary


(NOAA Photo/Released)

The Navy and NOAA have agreed to acquire two NOAA AGOR Vessels as part of NOAA’s fleet rebuilding plan. Once in service, the new ships will support a wide variety of missions, ranging from general oceanographic research and exploration to marine life, climate and ocean ecosystem studies. These missions include shallow coastal, continental shelf, and worldwide ocean survey and data collection; as well as launching work boats, performing maintenance on buoys and moorings, collecting weather and water column data, and performing bathymetric surveys at sea. The vessels will allow researchers to remain on station at remote locations for multiple days to collect data, deploy scientific equipment, and perform scientific analyses.

The two new ships will greatly enhance NOAA’s ocean exploration and scientific research capabilities. The first ship, to be named OCEANOGRAPHER, will be homeported in Honolulu, Hawaii. The second ship, to be named DISCOVERER, will be assigned a homeport
at a future date. Both ships will continue the legacies of their namesakes, the first OCEANOGRAPHER having served in the NOAA fleet from 1966 to 1996 and her sister ship, DISCOVERER, from 1967 to 1996.

Designed as single-hull ships, the OCEANOGRAPHER and DISCOVERER will be under 90 meters in length and will be built to commercial standards. They will incorporate the latest technologies including high-efficiency environmentally friendly EPA Tier IV diesel engines, emissions controls for stack gases, new information technology tools for monitoring shipboard systems, and state of the art scientific underwater research and survey equipment. Each vessel will operate with a crew of 20 and will have accommodations for up to 28 scientists.

The Navy has been a leader in building and providing large research ships for the nation's research fleet since World War II. These new NOAA ships are the first step in supporting NOAA with its fleet recapitalization effort.

Contract award for the detail design and construction of the vessels is expected to occur in 2020. Both ships will be built in the United States and delivered to NOAA to be operated by the NOAA Corps mariners to support NOAA Scientists.

Updated April 2020