NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, the only federal ship dedicated to systematic ocean exploration, began
operations in May 2010. After the U.S. Navy transferred the former surveillance vessel to NOAA in
2004, OER worked in partnership with NOAA's Office of Marine and Aviation Operations to design,
refit and ready the ship for explorations. The ship has a state-of-the-art multibeam sonar system, a
science-class remotely operated vehicle (ROV) with high-definition video cameras and advanced
telepresence technologies to connect personnel, images and data from the ship and ROV to audiences
ashore in real-time. Users can follow along on missions in near real-time using the
Okeanos Explorer Atlas
- EX will operate in regions with a high potential for discovery, identified by the oceanographic research community.
- Expeditions will be interdisciplinary.
- Investigative team will be participating on behalf of the entire oceanographic community.
- Data and results of expeditions publicly available ASAP via Telepresence.
Collaborated with NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) to map priority areas
during the ship's sea trials in 2008 and 2009. The areas included 35% of Cordell Bank National
Marine Sanctuary (NMS) and 7% of the Gulf of the Farallones NMS. It also included 91% and 31%
respectively, of the areas proposed to be added to those sanctuaries through pending
legislation. In total, the ship mapped 2,226 square statute miles off central California.
Collected bathymetric and habitat data in 2009 and 2011 to support National Ocean Service and
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) priority deep-coral activities.
Discovered an extraordinary 1,400-meter gas plume in the water column near the Mendocino Ridge
off California using the ship's state-of-the-art mapping system.
Supported NMFS in sampling plastics in the 'Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch' and collecting
plankton during a record 5,000 nautical mile ocean transect.
Conducted a May 2011 community workshop to develop high priority exploration targets in the
Partnered with NMFS in a 2011 joint expedition with NOAA Ships Okeanos Explorer and Pisces to
test various sonars in mapping Gulf of Mexico seeps.