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The Marine Sciences Research Center has begun the renovation and conversion of an 80 foot vessel to serve as the center’s new research vessel, replacing the R/V Onrust after 25 years of service.  The new vessel is the former fishing vessel Bagatell, which became available through the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Fishing Capacity Reduction Initiative put in place to reduce the size of the fishing fleet to aid in the recovery of the Northeast Groundfish stocks. The Bagatell was one of New England’s top harvesters and is a true offshore boat, having proven herself through several winters fishing on George’s Bank.  The vessel is now undergoing a complete renovation to into a modern, multipurpose research vessel for MSRC.

Launched in 1974, the Onrust served the Center for 25 years.  The Onrust logged over 2,000 days at sea carrying out a dual mission: to provide  an educational experience  for students in the marine environment, and to serve as a research platform for those studying the coastal waters of Long Island, New York Harbor, the Hudson River and the waters offshore from Massachusetts to Delaware.  Technology has changed since the Onrust was put into service, and vessel users now need run more sophisticated oceanographic equipment, have larger field crews, and stay at sea for longer periods.  Faced with increasing maintenance costs and limits on expanding the capabilities for the vessel, MSRC has undertaken the replacement for the Onrust.

The new vessel will have far greater capabilities than the Onrust.  It will have double the amount of lab space, and feature separate wet and dry lab facilities with such features as protected power supply, running seawater and zero overboard discharge.  The amount of accommodations will also double, with berths for eleven personnel, a spacious galley, and full washroom.  On deck a sophisticated hydraulic system with built in redundancy will power a 6 ton A frame and a 1 ton side frame, allow for a variety of winch operations, and be fully convertible for trawling.  The majority of deck machinery will be installed above the shelter deck, keeping the main deck clear- an important safety feature when accommodating large groups of students on board.  The new vessel will have a range of  2000 nautical miles, be able to work out to 200 miles offshore and stay at sea for up to 10 days.  A 700 h.p. engine will power the vessel with a 65kW main and 30kW backup generator providing ship’s electricity.

MSRC commissioned the Napier Company of Arbroath, Scotland to undertake the stability investigation and design work for the conversion of the new vessel.  The Napier Company is a firm of international reputation in the field of vessel stability and has been involved in a variety of projects around the world,  most recently overseeing the conversion of a 200 foot trawler in New Zealand into a fishery patrol vessel for the Faukland Islands.  Seatech, Inc. of New Bedford, MA is carrying will carry out the conversion of the Bagatell, and is expected to have the vessel delivered to MSRC in the fall.

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