Students studying on the R/V BarnesEfforts to raise funds are currently underway to replace the University of Washington’s 49-year old local research vessel, the Clifford A. Barnes, which is nearing the end of its service life. We are seeking $12 million to build a state-of-the-art research vessel to continue the Barnes’ legacy of advancing scientific research and education in our region. A new vessel will support the mission of many partners, who share a common goal of understanding and stewarding the Pacific Northwest’s rich marine and freshwater ecosystems.

The Barnes’ long expeditionary history has provided scientists and students access to local waters, and shed light on how our Pacific Northwest aquatic ecosystems work, including:

  • Giving countless students their first taste of hands-on research, planting the seeds of science in budding oceanographers and future researchers
  • Investigating the effects of the Elwha Dam removal and the issue of low oxygen in Hood Canal
  • Advancing our fundamental understanding of tidal circulation in estuaries and why harmful algae bloom in the Puget Sound

We must maintain our ability to execute important science that furthers our knowledge of Pacific Northwest aquatic ecosystems, and continue to provide a platform that both excites and cultivates the next generation of scientific leaders.

A New Research Vessel

After assembling the science requirements for a new local research vessel, UW contracted with Jensen Maritime of Seattle to develop a conceptual design (below) for a vessel that could meet all of UW’s needs.

Replacing the Barnes enables us to:

  • Provide jobs in the maritime sector through production of a new vessel
  • Study and monitor the Pacific Northwest’s marine and freshwater health with cutting edge research equipment and capabilities
  • Advance the science, technology, engineering and math-based education for numerous graduate and undergraduate students
  • Identify and monitor emerging ocean-related trends of concern (e.g., ocean acidification)
  • Provide training in the maritime sector on vessel operation and research
  • Provide access to our academic partners, including universities, colleges and community colleges (e.g., Evergreen, UW Tacoma, Seattle Central Community College, Ocean Inquiry Project, and many others) in addition to the University of Washington
  • Provide a research platform for numerous other scientific, government, industry and NGO partners (e.g., National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Ecology, academic and agency scientists, etc.)
  • Build a green vessel that is ADA accessible, broadening access to scientific study

As a next step, UW intends to contract with a naval architectural firm to develop the Preliminary Design and the technical specifications to build a new vessel.