The R/V Rachel Carson

rv rachel carsonUnderstanding and monitoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers is critical to guiding its restoration. To help move restoration efforts forward and more effectively, UMCES teamed up with marine architect Roger Long, Hike Metal and E.Y.E. Marine Consultants to construct a new state of the art research vessel specifically designed for the Chesapeake Bay. The 81-foot vessel was constructed by Hike Metal and was christened in Annapolis, Maryland on November 15, 2008.

In addition to her shallow draft, the Rachel Carson is specifically designed to provide a solid foundation for decades of service to UMCES scientists. She is powered by twin 1,200 horsepower diesel engines paired with jet outdrives that allow her to move at a speedy 24 knots. A state-of-the-art dynamic positioning system allows the vessel to “hover” motionless over one spot regardless of wind and current. A trio of powerful winches allows scientists to launch and retrieve multiple buoys and sampling devices over the side or stern. Built-in electronic sensors will continuously measure the Bay’s water quality, biology and currents whether underway or on station

Listen to NPR's coverage and see an online slideshow of one of the Rachel Carson's first Chesapeake Bay research cruises.

Since it began operations early in 2009, Carson has been used to collect water quality samples; to tow plankton nets; to conduct box coring operations; to deploy a data buoy; to ground truth aircraft deployed instruments and as a platform to teach undergraduate and graduate students estuarine sampling techniques. The vessel’s dynamic positioning system has proven to be very effective and efficient in maintaining Carson’s position over the bottom.

The Rachel Carson is named in honor of the world renowned marine biologist and nature writer who wrote her most influential books while a resident of Maryland. Born in Pennsylvania, Ms. Carson received her master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University, taught at the University of Maryland and was a writer for federal fisheries agencies in Washington. She wrote articles about the Chesapeake Bay and the best-seller, The Sea Around Us, which inspired a generation of marine scientists. Ms. Carson is best known for her book Silent Spring, which is credited as being a “wake-up call” for environmental concerns in the United States.

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