Skip to content

New Ocean Research Ship Heading To Hawai‘i

Schatz Secured More Than $200 Million In Federal Funding Over Three Years For New NOAA Vessels in Hawai‘i

WASHINGTON – Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that it is acquiring two new ocean research ships, with the first ship set to be homeported in Honolulu. U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, helped secure federal funding to update Hawai‘i’s aging NOAA vessels. Once operational, the new ships will support a wide variety of missions, including ocean research, marine life exploration, and climate and ocean ecosystem studies. 

“These new ships will make sure NOAA can continue to do the critical research work we need to protect our oceans and Hawai‘i’s natural resources, including Papahanaumokuakea,” said Senator Schatz.

Hawai‘i’s vessel—the NOAA Ship Oceanographer—will replace NOAA Ship Hiialakai, which was retired early because of extensive corrosion. That is why in addition to securing federal funding, Schatz has called on NOAA leaders to complete a full assessment of its fleet to determine if any other NOAA ship has hidden damage to its hull.

Design of the vessels is currently underway, and 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 determined after the shipbuilding contracts have been awarded. The second ship will be assigned a homeport at a future date.

NOAA currently has a fleet of 15 active research and survey ships. 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.