Construction set to begin on new Florida research boat


The following is the text of a news release from Boksa Marine Design:

(TAMPA, Fla.) — The 78-foot research vessel designed and engineered by Boksa Marine Design in 2015 is headed to the building phase beginning in June.

Boksa Marine Design (BMD) contracted with the Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) in February 2015 for the design of a new vessel to replace its current research vessel, the 71-foot R/V Bellows.

Originally built in 1968, the FIO has operated the research boat since 1979 as a floating laboratory for scientists and students studying in the waterways of Florida, the Gulf of Mexico and the Bahamas.

FIO is a Florida Academic Infrastructure Support Organization, collaboratively working with 27 educational institutions and agencies from across the state to maximize marine research and education resources.

The goal of the Florida Institute of Oceanography is to “provide a forum for addressing the challenges facing our oceans and develop strategies for promoting greater understanding, scientific advancement, civic engagement, natural resource management and public policy which preserves and protects ocean resources.”

The new design will address the limitations of a vessel that was built more than 40 years ago and has become increasingly more expensive to maintain. Similarly, the design will ensure the vessel meets the known and anticipated requirements of varied research missions in the years to come.

At 78 feet in length and 26 feet at the beam, the new ship will be both longer and wider than its predecessor. The design will offer the new vessel more working space, including separated wet and dry labs, a larger work deck, separate galley and more comfortable arrangements for berthing.

Anticipated missions for the new vessel will include a variety of over-the-side operations including water sampling, bioacoustics, sediment coring, and fisheries research.

“We’re excited to be a part of this new project. The vessel has a rich history of scientific education and discovery and we hope the new boat will continue the institute’s ongoing mission,” said Nick Boksa, president of Boksa Marine Design.

Design plans were finalized in October 2015. Since that time, Boksa Marine Design has been working with the FIO’s Ship’s Advisory Committee on its shipyard bid package as well as the shipyard selection process.

On May 1, Duckworth Steel Boats based in Tarpon Springs, Fla., was awarded the contract to build the new vessel. A new name for the vessel has not been chosen.

A keel-laying ceremony is scheduled for June. Completion of the boat’s construction is estimated to take between 12 and 24 months.

During construction, Boksa Marine Design will provide detailed engineering and construction oversight. In 2014, BMD also provided systems and mechanical engineering services for FIO’s other research vessel, the 115-foot R/V Weatherbird II.

By Professional Mariner Staff