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Students to Be Invited to Keel Laying Ceremony

NOAA illustration.April 11, 2007 A team of five students and their biology teacher from Marina High School in Marina, Calif., won the "Name NOAA's New Ship" contest. NOAA selected the entry "Bell M. Shimada" for a 208-foot fisheries survey vessel that is currently under construction in Mississippi. Shimada was an eminent fisheries scientist who specialized in Pacific tropical tuna stocks. (Click NOAA illustration for larger view. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

"This was an extremely competitive contest, and I commend the students from Marina High School for their efforts," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "The contest was designed to encourage students to learn more about their oceans and coasts and the Marina High School team presented an outstanding recommendation."

"I am proud of these Marina High School students and their teacher for taking an interest in ocean issues and engaging in NOAA's contest," said Congressman Sam Farr, whose district includes the high school. "Living on the edge of the Monterey Bay and the vast deep-sea Monterey Canyon, Central Coasters are uniquely aware of their relationship with the ocean and the need to maintain healthy coastal marine environments. NOAA plays a critical role in keeping our oceans healthy and this new ship will aid in that endeavor."

Since September 2003, NOAA has been using its fleet modernization program to promote science education and ocean literacy by including students and teachers in the ship naming process. Thousands of students have participated in the contests sponsored by the NOAA Office of Education and learned more about NOAA's important scientific research.

Working in teams of four to eight students, contest participants research one name of their choosing for the ship, and write an essay to support their selection. Essays are judged on imagination and creativity, evidence of educational value and ocean literacy.

This latest contest was open to students in middle and high schools throughout California, Oregon, and Washington. Though its home port location hasn't been determined yet, Bell M. Shimada will operate primarily along the West Coast.

The team of five ninth grade students, led by biology teacher Myah Gunn, includes Sarah Livingston-Reed, Max Orfield, Sho Nguyen, Desiree Duenas and Jessica Kim. They will be invited to attend the ship's keel laying ceremony in Moss Point, Miss., on June 15. Additionally, a senior NOAA official will visit the school in the fall and present it with a duplicate keel plate from the ship.

Bell M. Shimada is the last of four new NOAA fisheries survey vessels of the same design under contract with VT Halter Marine Inc. in Moss Point, Miss. The first ship was delivered to NOAA in 2005, and the second ship—which was the first NOAA ship to be named through a student contest—was delivered last year. The third, also named through a contest, is still under construction.

Once operational, Bell M. Shimada will support the NOAA Fisheries Service in its primary goals of rebuilding and maintaining sustainable fisheries, promoting the recovery of protected species, and protecting and maintaining the health of coastal marine habitats.

The ship's namesake was known for his distinctive mark on the study of Pacific tropical tuna stocks. Working with interdisciplinary teams of biologists, chemists and oceanographers, as a researcher and then team leader, Shimada developed and published such material on the distribution, spawning and feeding patterns of tuna. He also coordinated international data collection and studies for the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. Marking Shimada's important contributions to the development of his field were the dedication of the Proceedings from the Symposium on "The Changing Pacific Ocean in 1957 and 1958" in his memory, and the naming of a seamount—Shimada Seamount, southwest of Baja California—in his honor. Shimada's son, Allen Shimada, is currently a fisheries scientist with NOAA.

The NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations operates, manages and maintains the NOAA fleet of research and survey ships and aircraft. OMAO is composed of civilians and commissioned officers of the NOAA Corps, one of the nation's seven uniformed services. NOAA Corps officers—all scientists or engineers—provide NOAA with an important blend of operational, management and technical skills that support NOAA's mission at sea, in the air and ashore.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. NOAA 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 the 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 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Ship Naming Contest

NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations

NOAA Corps

Media Contact:
Jeanne Kouhestani, NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, (301) 713-7693 or Bob Hansen, NOAA Office of Education, (202) 482-4594