MBARI to Build State-of-the-Art Research Vessel

r/v David Packard
r/v David Packard
Design rendering of the r/v David Packard. Illustration: Glosten © 2021 MBARI

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) is charting a new chapter in its ocean research with the construction of a new, state-of-the-art research vessel named in honor of the organization’s founder, David Packard, the organization announced in mid-April.

The r/v David Packard will be capable of accommodating expeditions in Monterey Bay and beyond to further the institute’s mission to explore and understand the changing ocean, according to the research institute.

The research vessel is designed at 50 meters (164 feet) long and 12.8 meters (42 feet) wide with a draft of 3.7 meters (about 12 feet). It will be able support a crew of 12, as well as a science crew of 18. MBARI has selected Freire Shipyard in Vigo, Spain, for the vessel’s construction.

“This new state-of-the-art research vessel will expand MBARI’s reach and enhance our research, engineering development, and outreach efforts,” MBARI President and CEO Chris Scholin said.

The final design is expected to get underway this spring, with keel laying expected by November, and the vessel’s launch in September 2022. Construction should be complete in May 2023, after which the vessel would depart Spain for its journey to its homeport of Moss Landing, Calif. to replace MBARI’s current flagship research vessel, the r/v Western Flyer, which is scheduled to be retired.

“As MBARI’s workhorse for the last 25 years, the Western Flyer’s unique capabilities will always be synonymous with MBARI,” Michael Kelly, MBARI’s Director of Marine Operations, said, adding that the vessel has been involved in MBARI’s explorations of Monterey Canyon with the ROV Doc Ricketts off the coast of Central California and elsewhere.

Operations for the Doc Ricketts will transition from the Western Flyer to the David Packard when the new vessel reaches full operational status in fall 2023, according to MBARI officials.

The David Packard will join MBARI’s two existing research vessels, the r/v Rachel Carson and r/v Paragon.