NOAA christens new Galveston-based research vessel

The following is the text of a press release issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
(WASHINGTON) — Today, NOAA christened a new, state-of-the-art research vessel that will enhance the study and protection of Flower Garden Banks National
Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico. The 83-foot R/V Manta will
operate out of Galveston, Texas, where the sanctuary is headquartered.
“This technologically advanced research vessel is a vital addition to
our fleet,” said Daniel J. Basta, director of NOAA’s Office of
National Marine Sanctuaries. “The Manta will open new windows onto
the marine life and habitats of the Flower Garden Banks sanctuary
while helping us protect this special place for future generations.”
Built in Bellingham, Wash., by All American Marine, the twin-hulled
Manta features a laboratory equipped with the latest scientific
instruments, air compressors to allow divers to refill scuba tanks at
sea, and a recompression chamber to enhance diver safety. The vessel
can hold up to 25 people, deploy robot subs and other ocean
exploration tools, and cruise at speeds up to 35 knots.
In addition to being a platform for exploring the sanctuary and
surrounding waters, the Manta will also serve both as a patrol vessel
to enforce sanctuary regulations and a floating classroom. Teachers
will be regular visitors aboard the Manta to watch and learn as
scientists conduct research.
“With the Manta, we will be able to study the sanctuary more
intensively, protect it more effectively, and share its wonders with
more people than ever before,” said G.P. Schmahl, the sanctuary’s
superintendent. “The vessel’s capabilities are as diverse as the
sanctuary itself.”
Located 115 miles off the Texas/Louisiana coast, Flower Garden Banks
National Marine Sanctuary is one of 14 marine protected areas managed
by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. The sanctuary
includes the two northernmost coral reefs in the continental United
States, sponge communities, and other habitats.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the
U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security
and national safety through the prediction and research of weather
and climate-related events and information service delivery for
transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our
nation’s coastal and marine resources.
Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the
planet it observes, predicts and protects.
On the Web:
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries:
Flower Gardens Bank National Marine Sanctuary:
By Professional Mariner Staff