93-foot R/V Virginia enhances Bay science, extends research footprint offshore
The Virginia Institute of Marine Science community will officially welcome its new flagship research vessel—the R/V Virginia—at the Yorktown waterfront today. The public christening of the vessel is scheduled for April of 2019.
“This is a new day in marine research opportunities for VIMS,” says Dean and Director John Wells. “The Virginia is the most modern, most capable research vessel in its size class anywhere in the U.S., and will greatly increase our ability to serve the citizens of the Commonwealth and maritime stakeholders on both local and regional scales.”
Durand Ward, VIMS marine superintendent, describes a number of ways in which the Virginia provides an improved research platform. “The vessel has a large working deck, ample lab space, and much more comfortable berths” he says. “These will allow our scientists and crew to work more safely, and under harsher conditions, while staying at sea for longer stretches.”I'll be hoping to see it out there.
The vessel’s lab space—500 square feet in total—is divided into a wet lab for processing samples within a protected area, and a dry lab for conducting experiments with sensitive instruments while underway. Its electrical and networking systems were designed to handle the torrents of data collected by today’s high-tech field sensors and lab instruments, and with an eye to the even more voluminous data streams expected for the future.
These features, along with the vessel’s engine and propulsion systems, combine to allow the vessel to operate more efficiently in terms of both fuel and cost.
“You don’t have to come back in every few days to refresh and refuel,” says Luckenbach. “You can get farther up the Bay, and farther offshore with fewer port calls.” Adds Ward, “the Virginia’s power plant—two Cummins QSK19-M diesels—will allow the vessel to operate most times with just one engine, allowing for huge fuel savings.”