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R/V Western Flyer returns from shipyard

September 1, 1999

Moss Landing, California—The research vessel Western Flyer will   return to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute dock early September 2, after undergoing repairs and upgrades that began last summer. The Western Flyer serves as the mother ship to the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Tiburon.

R/V Western Flyer is a 36-meter-long small water-plane area twin hull (SWATH) oceanographic research vessel designed and built for MBARI. The vessel’s primary mission is deep-sea ROV operations, providing a stable platform for deploying, operating, and recovering the tethered ROV Tiburon. The ship has state-of-the-art equipment for conducting oceanographic activities.

During early science missions in 1997, cracks in the hull were discovered at the intersection of the struts with the haunches. Subsequent design reviews by naval architects and the American Bureau of Shipping confirmed that the vessel had been under-designed for the sea conditions routinely encountered in the Monterey Bay region. Concerns about the ship’s safety limited operations for much of 1997 and 1998.

Western Flyer arrived at the Bay Ship and Yacht Company shipyard in Alameda on Monday, July 13, 1998. Repairs to strengthen the hull included doubling the number of transverse frames. Other modifications included noise reduction, increased fuel capacity, and air-conditioning/cooling upgrades.

Over the next few months, the Western Flyer will be re-outfitted with the ROV Tiburon, control room, and other equipment. This process will conclude with sea trials for both the ship and ROV, after which science operations will resume.

Contact: Debbie Meyer, Communications Coordinator