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NOAA Decommissions Long-serving Research Ship David Starr Jordan

August 3, 2010

NOAA today decommissioned the research vessel NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan during a ceremony in Seattle. The 171-ft. ship conducted oceanographic, marine mammal and fisheries research in the Pacific for more than 40 years.

“NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan played an integral and invaluable role in expanding our understanding of the ocean and marine life in the eastern Pacific,” said Rear Adm. Jonathan W. Bailey, director of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations and the NOAA Corps. “This remarkable vessel and all who sailed aboard her have more than earned their place in the history of fisheries and oceanographic research in the eastern Pacific.”

Built in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., in 1964 and commissioned in 1966, the vessel was designed specifically to conduct research in tropical and temperate waters. The ship’s operational area included the U.S. West Coast and eastern Tropical Pacific, where researchers investigated seasonal variations in ocean temperature, currents and salinity and assessed the status of marine life.

The San Diego, Calif.-based ship collected hydrographic and biological data on the California Current System during California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) research cruises. During this project, researchers studied the marine environment off the coast of California, the management of its living resources, and monitored the indicators of El Niño and climate change with quarterly cruises off southern and central California. NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan also played an important role in yellow fin tuna fishery research.

NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan also played an important role in yellow fin tuna fishery research that led to a major reduction in dolphin mortalities. Data collected on the Jordan were critical in supporting the “dolphin-safe” tuna campaign and labeling requirements.

“The David Starr Jordan was a workhorse for more than 40 years, supporting the management of fish, marine mammals and sea turtles,” said Steve Murawski, Ph.D., NOAA’s chief scientist for fisheries. “We celebrate the crew, scientists and vessel as we look to the future.”

NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan was a floating laboratory equipped with temperature-controlled aquaria and live specimen wells, walk-in freezer, dark room, data processing laboratory, and an underwater observation chamber in the bow and port side for studying fish behavior at sea. The ship was also equipped with a helicopter pad to support aerial observations and photo survey missions. The ship’s twin 500-horsepower diesel engines give the ship a 12-knot cruising speed.

In all, NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan spent an estimated 8,949 days at sea and sailed more than 1.3 million miles. Researchers aboard the vessel measured and weighed 1,000 sea turtles, took 27,000 photographs using remotely operated vehicles, and conducted 27,000 oceanographic sampling casts, 22,000 plankton tows and 4,700 fish trawls. The ship also participated in several expeditions extending from Mexico to Peru and the Galapagos Islands.

The ship is named after David Starr Jordan (1851-1931), one of the best known naturalists and educators of his time. He wrote more than 50 books and published over 600 scientific papers on topics ranging from ichthyology (the branch of zoology dealing with fish) to advancing world peace. In 1879, Jordan became president of Indiana University and was selected in 1891 as the first president of Stanford University. Jordan was a member of the California State Fish Commission, and his investigations of the exploitation of the salmon and fur seal populations helped save these species.

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