Provost Dan Rich and Carolyn Thoroughgood, dean of the College of Marine Studies, also participated in the signing, which was held at the Goodstay Center in Wilmington.
Years ago, when ships were made of wood, the laying of the keel -- the long timber forming the ship's "backbone" -- was the first step in building a new vessel. In modern ship construction, the keel is no longer the principal structural component. However, shipbuilders still honor the keel-laying tradition.
The new ship will replace UD's 120-foot research vessel Cape Henlopen, which has been in service to the oceanographic community since 1976.
Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes, Washington, will build the new ship. The company was awarded the contract in December 2003. It has been in business since 1975 and specializes in the construction and repair of steel and aluminum ships ranging from fishing and oil recovery vessels to ferries and barges.
Heralded as the "first in the next generation of coastal research vessels," UD's new ship will feature a state-of-the-art modular design and clean, quiet operation. It will be the first ship in the U.S. academic research fleet to meet international underwater noise standards, which are based on the hearing ability of fish.
The total cost of constructing the vessel and outfitting it with scientific instrumentation and communications systems is estimated at $17.6 million. Funding for the new ship will be provided by the University of Delaware, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Office of Naval Research, and private donations.
In his formal remarks, President Roselle noted that building and operating a new research vessel "is not an inex
Contact: Tracey Bryant
University of Delaware