Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNF Marine-Science Students Check out State's Brand-New Ocean Research Vessel

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNF Marine-Science Students Check out State's Brand-New Ocean Research Vessel

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Byline:

The research vessel W.T. Hogarth, the state's latest ocean research vessel, is just a few months old, and it still has that newboat smell.

"It's beautiful, huh?" said Jim Gelsleichter, director of the University of North Florida's Coastal Marine and Biology department, as some of his students boarded the boat, docked near The Jacksonville Landing.

He's traveled the ocean for years on big working boats nowhere near as shiny and hightech as the Hogarth.

"To be honest, my training in the ocean sciences has been been a bit more rustic," he said, laughing. "This boat's a little too pretty for me."

It is one of two research vessels operated by the statefunded Florida Institute of Oceanography, which supports marine science research for the state's university system.

University students across the state have the opportunity to ship out for trips that last up to 10 days, with the boats serving as floating laboratories.

Phillip Kramer, director of the FIO, said the Hogarth is stateoftheart, with hundreds of thousands of feet of wiring to serve all its hightech functions. An example: Built into the hull are more than a thousand acoustic sound beacons that can give highresolution images of the contours of the ocean floor.

Ryan Healy, mate on the W.T. Hogarth, said it's a good boat. It has a relatively shallow draft and wide beam, but handles well. It's 78 feet long, made of steel, and is considerably more spacious and comfortable than the ship it replaces, the Bellows, which was almost 50 years old.

It has much more room for research areas, he said, and sleeps 10 visitors.

In five years on board the Bellows and the FIO's other boat, the Weatherbird II, Healy has seen plenty of students come aboard to do research, and he's seen how they change.

"Normally they're kind of bewildered at first, and they get seasick the first couple of days. Then they get used to the routine, working odd hours, sleeping odd hours, working when they have to," he said. …

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