Pioneer array first deployed in the Mid-Atlantic Bight. The coastal arrays will require approximately four months of combined Intermediate and Local ship time per year. In addition to these requirements, some specialized tasks may require the use of chartered vessels, and it is likely that other vessels (such as the Ocean or Regional/Coastal classes) will be used as needed, especially when the Intermediate vessels retire.
Although the NRC and UNOLS Working Group reports (Chave et al., 2003; National Research Council, 2003a) overestimated the ship time requirements of the OOI compared to its present scoping plan, many of their findings regarding the required capabilities of the ships still hold. UNOLS Global class ships were configured for programs such as the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) and the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) that emphasized fuel economy and cruise duration, large shipboard science parties, extensive laboratory space at the expense of deck space and limited heavy lifting in OTS operations. The needs of the OOI are significantly different. Installation and maintenance of OOI components would benefit from large deck spaces, the ability to lift and deploy heavy loads over the side, DP systems that can hold station in high latitudes and rough weather, the ability to have ROV operations, and the ability to store and install short lengths of cable.
Both the NRC and UNOLS Working Group reports (Chave et al., 2003; National Research Council, 2003a) noted that the current UNOLS fleet renewal plans do not adequately address the ship requirements of the OOI. In particular, they note that the new Ocean class vessels are not particularly well suited for ocean observatory operations. As discussed further in Chapter 4, the Science Mission Requirements (SMR) for Ocean class ships call for the ability to hold station in sea states up to 5, wind speeds up to 35 knots, and currents up to 2 knots. These specifications may not be sufficient for observatory purposes. In addition the SMR provides for only 1500-2000 square feet of aft deck space and winches and cranes that are similar to the current Global vessels and thus not well suited to heavy lifting. In addition the SMR calls for only 20-25 science berths, which may be inadequate for the long cruises to service buoys in remote locations or for housing the ROV, engineering, and science teams necessary for operations on the regional cabled observatory. However, response cruises or short repair cruises with an ROV could conceivably be staged with an Ocean class ship.
The preceding description of the rapidly evolving and highly technical systems for future oceanographic research vessels likewise will place