NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada (front) and NOAA Ship Pisces (back) in the Gulf of Mexico and underway to a US NAVY Acoustic Range.
Photo: LCDR G. Mark Miller, NOAA
Since May 2005 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has commissioned four state-of-the-art fishery survey vessels, representing a significant achievement in NOAA’s efforts to modernize its fleet of fisheries, oceanographic, and hydrographic survey ships. The first of the FSV40 Class, NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson (R-224), serves the Alaska Fisheries Science Center; the second, Henry B. Bigelow (R-225) serves the Northeast Fisheries Science Center; followed by Pisces (R-226) for the Southeast Fisheries Science Center, and Bell M. Shimada (R-227) supporting both the Southwest and Northwest Fisheries Science Centers. A fifth FSV40 (R-228) is currently under construction in Marinette Wisconsin and will also serve on the West Coast beginning in 2014.
International standards developed by the International Council for Exploration of the Seas (ICES) establish scientific acoustic performance requirements for fisheries research vessels. ICES Standard 209, Underwater Radiated Noise of Research Vessels, limits the allowable underwater ship-generated noise signature below speeds up to 11 knots, thereby increasing survey accuracy by minimizing fish and marine mammal avoidance behavior. To meet this standard, considerable effort has been expended in ship quieting technology, including a carefully designed hull form, highly skewed five-bladed propeller, and isolated resilient mounts for all major machinery, ventilation and piping systems.
FSV40 Mission Systems and Scientific Instrumentation
An integrated bridge system with dynamic positioning capability ensures track line; course, speed, and heading are maintained during scientific operations. Centralized controls for fishing operations, ship speed and maneuvering are provided at the Aft Control Station on the bridge. Speed and maneuvering controls are also located at the main bridge console and at the two bridge wings. Ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore voice, fax, and data links are supported.
The FSV40 Class is outfitted with extensive laboratories, direct sampling gear, and a full suite of modern scientific instrumentation including multi-beam and multi-frequency acoustic technologies for concurrent fisheries and oceanographic research. Continuous automated environmental observations collected while underway result in both richer and more efficiently collected data streams.
Each ship’s normal complement is 9 commissioned officers and 15 crew, with dedicated berthing for up to 15 scientists. With a cruising speed of 12 knots and range of 12,000 nautical miles, the 40-day mission endurance is constrained only by storage space for provisions and fuel capacity.