vessels of varying size comprise the current fleet of NOAA fisheries
research vessels (FRVs) dedicated to understanding and managing
the nation's fisheries and living marine resources. Most of these
vessels were built in the 1960s and are in their twilight years.
As part of NOAA Fisheries' modernization initiative, the aging fleet
is scheduled to receive some new recruits. Pictured above is the
newest FRV in the fleet, the OSCAR
DYSON. Launched October 17, 2003, the OSCAR
DYSON is the most sophisticated FRV in the world. It has been
constructed to meet very specific data collection requirements as
well as to meet exacting quietness standards to avoid disturbing
the very fish and mammals it is trying to study. Scheduled to be
commissioned later in 2004, the OSCAR
DYSON's primary mission will be to study and monitor Alaskan
pollock and other fisheries in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.
The ship will also observe weather, sea state, and other environmental
conditions, conduct habitat assessments, and survey marine mammal
and marine bird populations.