Woods Hole Welcomes Newest Research Vessel

[Not a valid template]WOODS HOLE – After years of anticipation, a new research vessel arrived at its home port of Woods Hole on Wednesday.

The R/V Neil Armstrong is a $74 million state-of-the-art Navy ship that will be operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as part of the national academic fleet.

WHOI’s Vice President for Marine Facilities and Operations Rob Munier said the ship is a high-tech marvel.

“It’s designed to be purpose built to do oceanography,” Munier said. “It’s got the latest technologies, in particular, some fantastic sonar systems that allow us to do mapping – investigation of the water column.”

Munier said the ship is computer controlled which makes it easier to maneuver and position.

“It’s called dynamic positioning,” he said. “That’s a feature that really will allow us to do things in a better way than ever before.”

Carole Armstrong, the widow of Neil, who died in 2012, was on hand for the ceremony to welcome the ship’s arrival.

“I had seen it when they were building it two years ago in [Anacortes, Washington],” she said. “But to see it actually sail in – it’s emotional.”

Carole said her late husband would have loved the vessel.

“Neil’s an ultimate engineer,” Carole said.

WHOI was chosen to operate the vessel by the Office of Naval Research in May of 2010. The ship took about three years to build.

The vessel was officially turned over to WHOI by the US Navy in September.

WHOI researchers have been doing test trials for science verification and exercising different systems on the ship during its transit from the West Coast to Woods Hole.

Munier said they continue to conduct science verification over the next few months.

The ships first science trip will be in May.

“We’ll be working on an ocean observing system right here off of Massachusetts,” Munier said.

The R/V Neil Armstrong is replacing the R/V Knorr which had been in operation since 1970 and was decommissioned in 2014.

The Knorr, which was used to discover the wreck of the Titanic, departed Woods Hole for the final time last month to be transferred over to the Mexican Navy.

By BRIAN MERCHANT & MATT McCARTHY, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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