Northwest Fisheries Science Center

The Main Deck

Acoustic and trawl adventures in the Northeast Pacific

This portal tracks the research and sea-going activities of the Fisheries Engineering and Acoustic Technologies (FEAT) Team from NOAA¿s Northwest Fisheries Science Center.  Follow us as we use acoustics, trawling, and oceanographic sampling to learn about the Northeast Pacific Ocean.

Back deck of Bell M. Shimada
Acoustic echogram of hake
trawl catch

The NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada

By Ensign Phil Manougian, Sandy Parker-Stetter
January 19, 2016

The NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada is a world-class research vessel.  I asked Ensign Phil Manougian to tell us a bit about what makes the Shimada such a great ship to use for scientific work.

Fun NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada facts!

The Bell M. Shimada is a Fisheries Survey Vessel (FSV) - a highly specialized, technically advanced research vessel used for investigating fisheries biomass, collecting data on ocean currents, buoy operations, Remotely Operated Vehicle operations, and other acoustic surveys.  We typically sail in the Pacific waters between San Diego, CA to the southern regions of Alaska.  General info on Shimada can be found here!

But what about some unique facts about the ship?  It’s 208.6 feet long, yes, but what makes it such a good ship for surveys like the winter hake survey?  What’s so special about its propeller?  Let me tell you!

Looking up the exhaust stack on the Shimada.  Note the spring in the lower left that attach the stack to the metal bracing (Photo credit Phil Manougian)

Bell M. Shimada is a very quiet ship.  Quieter than most ships that transport cargo, carry passengers, and fish commercially.  This is a requirement because Shimada has very specialized advanced acoustic sonar sensors affixed to the bottom of the ship which are constantly mapping the water below the ship at various frequencies.  If the ship made too much noise from loud machinery, pipe vibrations, or propeller cavitation, the acoustic images returned from the sonar would be full of “noise” (errors in picture or data that reduce the quality).  To help make the ship quiet, Shimada has rubber vibration dampeners on almost every item onboard that vibrates, rattles, or is generally loud while operating.  This greatly reduces the noise that reaches the hull of the ship, potentially ruining good data.  The propeller onboard is a very big, precisely engineered, acoustically quiet propeller.  It is so advanced in its design that exact specifications are classified and pictures aren’t even available to the public!

Ensign Phil Manougian


Rubber vibration dampeners (Photo credit Phil Manougian)

Tagged: Winter hake survey

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