Keel-laying ceremony for Reuben Lasker

25 Jun 2011
Artist's rendering of the NOAA fisheries survey vessel Reuben Lasker. Credit: NOAA

Artist's rendering of the NOAA fisheries survey vessel Reuben Lasker. Credit: NOAA

NOAA and Marinette Marine Corporation this week held a keel-laying ceremony at the MMC shipyard in Marinette, Wis., for NOAA’s newest fisheries survey vessel, Reuben Lasker.

During the ceremony, the ship’s sponsor, Pamela Lasker, daughter of the ship’s namesake, engraved her initials on a steel plate with assistance from a shipyard welder. The “keel plate” will be incorporated into the ship during construction. Although Reuben Lasker does not have a traditional keel due to modern shipbuilding methods, the ceremony was in keeping with a centuries-old maritime tradition that marks a significant milestone in a ship’s construction.

“The construction of this state-of-the-art new vessel is a major step forward for NOAA and our nation,” said Mary M. Glackin, NOAA deputy under secretary for operations. “When completed, Reuben Lasker will dramatically improve NOAA’s ability to conduct surveys for fish, marine mammals and turtles off the US 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 Oscar Dyson-class ships built for the agency. The 208ft ship will be 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.

The high-tech ship will also 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 behaviour.

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. Dr 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 will be operated, managed and maintained by NOAA’s 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. The ship will primarily support NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center. The construction of the vessel is a vital part of NOAA’s effort to revitalise and operate its fleet of research vessels for fisheries management, climate studies and hydrographic surveying.

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