GULFPORT, Miss. — A 135-foot research vessel to help study the effects of the BP oil spill and other marine science issues reached its home port, becoming the University of Southern Mississippi’s newest and largest research vessel.
The Point Sur, a $1 million investment, reached the state Port of Gulfport Sunday after a three-week voyage from California. The boat was purchased from the San Jose State University Research Foundation.
Southern Miss, the state’s designated marine sciences institution, bought the vessel and paid for the trip with a $1 million grant from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.
Monty Graham, chairman of the USM department of marine science, tells The Sun Herald the vessel can hold 13 researchers and technicians and a crew of eight for extended trips. Its main deck boasts 1,100 square feet and includes primary and wet laboratories.
“This state-of-the-art vessel gives us a research capacity we didn’t have before,” Graham said. “It will not only provide valuable return to the community for understanding the Deepwater Horizon spill, but will be a prime resource should another oil spill impact Mississippi’s coastal waters.”
“The key is to not have her sitting here,” Graham said.
Port Executive Director Johnathon Daniels said the vessel is the first to home port at the growing facility and is a welcome addition.
The Point Sur will be ready for operation by April 19. Officials said it has a cruising speed of 9.5 knots and a range of 6,800 nautical miles at 10 knots.
Graham said the vessel will be available for other research projects, educational trips and will help recruit top students.
“This really puts us up on the stage with other high-end research education programs,” he said.
Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com
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