NOAA Commissions Bell M. Shimada
On August 25, 2010, Federal officials commissioned the new NOAA ship Bell M. Shimada during a ceremony steeped in tradition and maritime history.
The commissioning event celebrates the moment at which a ship is placed into the active service of the United States government. The Bell M. Shimada and its crew will support the NWFSC and NOAA’s mission to conduct research to protect, restore, and manage West Coast and Pacific living marine resources. Research cruises will provide valuable insights into the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem, stretching from British Columbia to Baja California.
Approximately 200 NOAA employees, partners, and stakeholders attended the commissioning at Pier 66 in Seattle. Guest speakers at the event included NOAA Principal Deputy Undersecretary Monica Medina (Key Speaker), Director of NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations Rear Admiral Jonathan Bailey, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Operations of NOAA Fisheries John Oliver, Ship Sponsor Susan Lautenbacher, and the daughter of the ship’s namesake Julie Shimada. NWFSC attendees included Center Director Usha Varanasi, OMI Director Stewart Toshach, and many Center scientists who will utilize the state of the art research platform in the coming decades.
Earlier this summer, the Bell M. Shimada arrived in Seattle after completing its 5,800 nautical-mile journey from the Gulf Coast through the Panama Canal to the West Coast. The vessel’s transit included a stop at the Shimada Seamount, where the crew, working with the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, exercised the ship’s new multibeam acoustic system to help provide a unique top-to-bottom image of the seamount for the first time in 30 years. Other stops along the way included a short inport in San Diego, CA and Newport, OR. The vessel also recently conducted gear testing and was used in an inter-vessel comparison with the NOAA ship Miller Freeman, a critical operation to prepare the Bell M. Shimada to take over the biannual West Coast Pacific Hake Survey from the Miller Freeman.
The Bell M. Shimada’s state-of-the-art design allows for quieter operation and movement of the vessel through the water, giving scientists the ability to study fish and marine mammals without significantly altering their behavior. The vessel is the fourth of a new class of ships designed to meet the NOAA Marine Fisheries Service’s specific data collection requirements and the International Council for Exploration of the Seas’ standards for a low acoustic signature. The ship’s capabilities include a sophisticated sonar system and equipment for deploying buoys and sensor-packed underwater vehicles.
The FSV Bell M. Shimada is one of NOAA’s newest state-of-the-art survey research vessels.