NOAA commissions new fisheries survey ship in San Diego

May 2, 2014

NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker. (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker. (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA today commissioned a state-of-the-art fisheries survey vessel, NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker, during a ceremony at the Navy Pier in downtown San Diego. The ship will conduct fish, marine mammal and turtle surveys off the U.S. West Coast and in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

Funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Reuben Lasker is the fifth in a series of ultra-quiet, high-tech fisheries survey vessels designed to meet the NOAA Fisheries Service’s specific data collection requirements. The ship was built in Wisconsin by Marinette Marine Corporation, a Fincantieri company.

“NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker is a vital component of our ocean research and survey infrastructure,” said NOAA Corps Vice Adm. Michael S. Devany, NOAA deputy under secretary for operations, who participated in today’s commissioning ceremony. “Reuben Lasker and the other ships of the NOAA fleet play a critical role in gathering environmental intelligence essential to the nation's economic security, the safety of its citizens, and the understanding, protection, and management of our natural resources.”

“NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker will enable scientists to study marine life and habitats with unprecedented accuracy,” said NOAA Corps Rear Adm. David A. Score, director of the NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations and the NOAA Corps. “We are proud to add Reuben Lasker to the NOAA fleet.”

The 208-ft. ship is equipped with a full suite of modern instrumentation for fisheries and oceanographic research, including advanced navigation systems, acoustic sensors, scientific sampling gear and extensive laboratories. These features will dramatically enhance NOAA’s ability to conduct surveys for fish, marine mammals and turtles off the west coast of North America and in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

Like its sister ships, Reuben Lasker is engineered to produce much less noise than other survey vessels, allowing scientists to study fish populations and collect oceanographic data with fewer effects on fish and marine mammal behavior.

“NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker moves NOAA Fisheries into the next generation of fisheries science and monitoring,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “The new sensors and enhanced capabilities add to NOAA Fisheries’ ability to promote sustainable fisheries, recover endangered species and restore habitat upon which they depend.  The new technologies also enable NOAA to measure, monitor and map living marine resources with increased efficiency, increased precision and decreased costs.”

The new vessel is named after the late Dr. Reuben Lasker, a pioneering fisheries biologist who served as the director of the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center’s coastal fisheries division and as adjunct professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego. Lasker directed a renowned research group that focused on the survival and transition of young fish to adulthood, a topic with implications for fisheries management throughout the world.

Reuben Lasker is part of NOAA’s fleet of specialized ships and aircraft and is operated, managed and maintained by the NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, which includes commissioned officers of the NOAA Corps, one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and civilian wage mariners.

“NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker, together with its sister NOAA ship, Bell M. Shimada, will support the NOAA Fisheries Service’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center and Northwest Fisheries Science Center. The science centers conduct sea-going research in support of management and conservation of living marine resources, including fish, marine mammals and marine turtles,” said Cisco Werner, director of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center. “The combination of these two vessels, our new laboratory in San Diego, and the continued strong partnerships with our Northwest Fisheries Science Center and West Coast academic institutions will ensure NOAA continues to provide national and international leadership in ecosystem-based approaches to research and monitoring.”

NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker is homeported at the NOAA Port Facility at the Port of San Diego’s 10th Avenue Terminal. The ship has a maximum speed of 14 knots, a range of 12,000 nautical miles, and can remain at sea for 40 days. The ship’s complement includes five NOAA Corps officers, four civilian licensed engineers, and 15 civilian wage mariners. Reuben Lasker can accommodate up to 15 scientists. The ship is commanded by NOAA Corps Cmdr. Keith W. Roberts.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and our other social media channels.