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Okeanos Explorer
Schedules are available through a restricted site. Contact LCDR Keith Roberts at ChiefOps.MOA@noaa.gov, (757) 441-6842, or Chief, Operations Division, Marine Operations Center, Atlantic, 439 West York Street, Norfolk, VA 23510-1145
Known as “America’s ship for ocean exploration” the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer is a new type of research vessel. 95 percent of the ocean is still unexplored—and the Okeanos Explorer is going to help change that. The ship will travel around the globe to map the seafloor and characterize largely unknown areas of the ocean. Interesting seafloor features can be discovered with the deep water multibeam sonar mapping system. Sites will be further explored with the ship’s Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), which can travel down to a depth of 6,000 meters. Images and high-definition video from the underwater vehicles will be sent from the vehicle to the ship to the shore in real-time. This technology is referred to as “telepresence.” The Okeanos Explorer is the only NOAA ship to have a dedicated ROV. Although ROV’s have been used on other NOAA ships, they are typically removed at the end of a mission. Having a permanent ROV makes it easier to deploy at any time throughout the field season. On the Okeanos Explorer, there is an integrated control room for operating the ROV and run telepresence communication. Having the screens and computers permanently wired to the ship makes it more efficient to sustain long-term exploration in remote areas of the world. Not knowing what the ship will encounter, it is impossible to prepare a scientific compliment for every possible discovery. Instead, the ship will be capable of sending video, voice and other data to scientists ashore so that they may follow the cruise from a “command center”. The Exploration Command Centers are located around the country, with a communication’s hub located at the University Rhode Island, known as the Inner Space Center. Currently, other centers are located at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory at NOAA’s facility at the Western Regional Center in Seattle, WA; University of Washington in Seattle, WA; NOAA Headquarters in Silver Spring, MD; and the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping. Although the ship may be thousands of miles away, the scientists standing “watch” at the centers will be able to guide the ship through its mission. Images from the seafloor can also go live into classrooms, newsrooms, and living rooms through high speed internet. The ability to bring these products directly to people around the world will raise awareness, and hopefully get kids enthusiastic to learn about the ocean. The Okeanos Explorer was previously the USNS Capable, a T-AGOS class vessel. NOAA obtained the vessel on September 10, 2004 and began conversion in 2005.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Ship TypeResearch Vessel
Operating AreaGlobal
Endurance40 days
Crusing Speed10 knots
Lab Space
Power Availability800 hp
Berthing Space19
Deck Space
Telemetry AvailableThe Scientific Computer System (SCS) is a high-powered computer system that collects, processes, displays and archives data from the navigational and scientific sensors onboard the OKEANOS EXPLORER, ROV and Multibeam system.
29 Mar 2010 14:40