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Energy and Environment Directorate

Facilities & Laboratories

MSL Research Vessels

The Marine Sciences Laboratory has two research vessels available for performing scientific research, the 28-ft R/V Strait Science and the 23-ft SAFE Boat.

R/V Strait Science

Strait Science

The R/V Strait Science is a quality craft constructed in 1998 by Cold Water Boats out of Marysville, Washington. It is aluminum-hulled, 28 ft long, and has a 10.2-ft beam and 4.7-ft draft. The overall design is one often used by commercial fisherman, but the R/V Strait Science was modified by the addition of a davit and a hydraulic winch and A-frame system with 1,000-lb load capacity and 500 ft of stainless steel cable. The vessel is registered with the US Coast Guard and has been used to perform underwater video and side scan sonar studies, sediment sampling, and to deploy and retrieve a variety of other scientific equipment. The R/V Strait Science is also a dive platform for the MSL Scientific Dive Team.

The cabin has two helm seats with space to the rear that can be adjusted to accommodate additional crew and/or electronic equipment. There is equipment storage space in the berth area. Behind the cabin, the open deck space is nearly 9 ft x 9 ft.

The boat is powered by twin 200 hp Yamaha gasoline engines, installed in 2003. Onboard electrical power (120V AC) is supplied by a 8.0 KW BEG Westerbeke Gasoline Generator (2010). Twelve-volt DC and an inverter supplying 120V AC are also available to supply power for computers and other sampling equipment.

Onboard electronics include a Raymarine E-Series widescreen multifunction display (2010), Raymarine Raystar 125 Plus GPS Sensor (2010), Airmar P66 600W dual-frequency transom-mount transducer (2010), Raymarine DSM300 HD Digital Sounder Module (2010), Raymarine RD424 4kW Radome Scanner Unit (2010), and two cabin-mounted marine VHF radios.

R/V Strait Science Specifications


Built: 1998
Length: 28 ft
Beam: 10.2 ft
Draft: 4.7 ft
Motors: twin 4-stroke Yamaha 200's
Fuel Tank Capacity: Forward Tank ~100 gallons
     Aft Tank ~40 gallons
Deck Space: approx. 77 ft2 aft (8.8 x 8.8 ft);
    approx. 54 ft2 in cabin (8.2 x 6.6 ft)
Onboard power: 12V DC, plus inverter for 120V AC power, and an     onboard gasoline generator for additional 120 V AC power
Max Capacity: 20 people or 3000 lbs (though usually limited to 8 people for comfort's sake; only about 6 people fit into the cabin).
Hydraulic A-frame for towing equipment (e.g., underwater video), deploying equipment, or sampling (e.g., sediment cores)



The SAFE Boat was constructed in 2002 by SAFE Boats International located in Port Orchard, Washington. The hull is marine-grade 5086 aluminum, specially designed to be self-bailing even without forward movement. The boat is 23 ft long, and has an 8.5-ft beam and a 26-in draft. Its size is well-suited for harbor work and shallow river operations; its narrow beam enables easy trailering. The boat has been used to for all sorts of scientific endeavors ranging from deployment of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) to transplanting Zostera marina (eelgrass) for restoration purposes. It serves as a platform for water and sediment sampling, for seining of nearshore fish species, and it frequently supports the MSL Scientific Dive Team.

The boat has a center console with open deck space in the bow (4 ft x 6 ft) for equipment storage and deployment. Behind the center console are two aft storage cabinets. The larger cabinet can hold four SCUBA tanks.

The boat is powered by twin 100 hp Yamaha gasoline engines, installed in 2002. Onboard electrical power includes 12V DC plus 120V AC supplied by an inverter.

Onboard electronics include a Raymarine C90W multifunction display (2009) with integrated GPS and WAAS capability, Raymarine RD418D radar (2009), Raymarine DSM30 depth sounder module (2011), transom-mount transducer, and a mounted ICOM marine VHF radio.

SAFE Boat Specs:

Built: 2002
Length: 23 ft
Beam: 8.5 ft
Draft: 26 in
Motors: twin 4-stroke Yamaha 100's
Fuel Tank Capacity: 150 gal
Deck Space: approx. 34 ft2; (4 x 6 ft foredeck; 4 x 2.5 ft aft)
Onboard power: 12V DC, plus an inverter for 120V AC
Max Capacity: 12 people or 4,817 lbs (though usually limited to 5 people plus equipment) We allow 6 people max when work is ongoing; 8 people if just sight-seeing.

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