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Case Announces New NOAA Research Ship to be Homeported in Honolulu

He focused on replacing decommissioned ship through his service on Appropriations subcommittee overseeing ocean research

Washington, February 11, 2020

(Honolulu, HI) - Congressman Ed Case (HI-01) announced today that, as part of ongoing support for rebuilding the nation’s oceanographic fleet, the newest state-of-the-art research vessel will be homeported in Honolulu.

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says the new ship, to be named Oceanographer after one of NOAA’s original research vessels, is targeted for completion in 2023 and will be based out of Hawai’i for world-leading research throughout the Pacific. It is one of two brand- new NOAA ships that Case says, “will ensure that our country can continue with the vital research necessary to research and preserve our marine world that while still largely unknown is so vital to the present and future of our planet.”

“My effort toward rebuilding NOAA’s overall fleet and assuring Hawai’i continued to lead our nation’s marine research efforts began when, in my first month back in Congress last January, NOAA advised that the 35-year- old research ship Hi‘ialakai, homeported in Hawai’i, had to be decommissioned immediately,” said Case.

“As a new member of the House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee, which oversees all NOAA funding, I then prioritized overall recapitalization of NOAA’s aging fleet, a short-term replacement of Hi‘ialakai, and homeporting of the next new NOAA ship in Honolulu. In partnership with the rest of the delegation, especially Senator Schatz who sits on the Senate’s counterpart appropriations subcommittee, we were successful in all three priorities. This will assure not only that Hawai’i will retain its world-leading role in oceanographic research but that the federal funding and high-quality jobs that come with it continue.”

The Oceanographer will be the first of two ships now under design for the fleet. The second ship, the Discoverer, will be assigned a homeport at a future date. Case said NOAA expects to award contracts for the construction of the ships by the end of the year. Both will be built in the United States and construction timelines and target launch dates for the vessels will be confirmed after the shipbuilding contracts have been awarded.

NOAA currently has a fleet of 15 active research and survey ships, which are operated by NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations and crewed by NOAA’s Commissioned Officer Corps and civilian professional mariners. Each year, NOAA ships conduct more than 100 missions to collect data critical for nautical charts, fishery quotas, exploration of the nation’s 4.3-million-square-mile Exclusive Economic Zone, storm surge modeling and climate research.

Attachment: video of Congressman Case speaking at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on NOAA’s FY 2020 budget and the agency’s fleet can be found here: https://youtu.be/I5mLMfqd1s0?t=542

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