WHOI takes a look back at the many accomplishments by R/V Oceanus and its crew over the ship's remarkable 36-year career. Visit the R/V Oceanus Scrapbook to view remembrances of the ship.
When Capt. Larry Bearse reported for his new job sailing for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, he and his friends saw two ships tied side by side on the WHOI dock-one a large research vessel, the other R/V Oceanus.
What ship are you going on?" his friends asked. "It's got to be that ship there," Bearse replied, pointing to the big ship, "because that little thing's not going across the ocean." Bearse quickly discovered what scientists and crew found out when they sailed aboard the 177-foot Oceanus. "It turns out she's an excellent sea boat," Capt. Bearse said.
Designed by John W. Gilbert Associates of Boston, Oceanus was constructed by Peterson Builders of Sturgeon Bay, Wisc. Its name comes from the Greek Titan Oceanus, father of the river gods and sea nymphs, who was represented as a great stream of water encircling the Earth that was the source of all bodies of water. It sailed into Woods Hole in November 1975, painted a bleak battleship gray, but with distinctive, rakish-looking twin stacks arranged like king-posts on either side of the bridge. Physical oceanographer Bob Beardsley was chief scientist on the ship's first scientific mission for WHOI in April in 1976.
Owned by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Oceanus was operated by a crew of 12 and accommodated 20 scientists for up to 30 days at sea. Over 35 years (with a major mid-life renovation in 1994), Oceanus conducted nearly 500 missions, spanning all fields of oceanography and covering hundreds of thousands of miles from Georges Bank to the Red Sea and south to the Sargasso Sea and the Angola Basin. It served some 250 chief scientists and their scientific parties.
As Oceanus retires, we salute the ship's crews, who confronted the challenges of the sea with innovation, expertise, and a can-do spirit and got the job done. Oceanus joins the fleet of illustrious WHOI ships that have brought back hard-won knowledge about how the oceans work.
R/V Oceanus Scrapbook. Memories and tributes from those who worked on Oceanus.
R/V Oceanus in Pictures. Trace the ship's career in this collection of images from launch to present day.
R/V Oceanus Brochure