NOAA Fleet Relocation ACT
The OSU Marine Council recognizes the importance of staying informed of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Operation Center’s activities in Newport, Oregon, adjacent to the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center. An Action Coordination Team (ACT) comprised of a network of OSU faculty was established to communicate with NOAA and the Port of Newport during the relocation phase. The Team continues to develop relationships and identify opportunities for collaboration with the NOAA Fleet, and to keep the Marine Council informed of ongoing activities.
Dr. George Boehlert
On Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2009, the NOAA announced that it would move the agency’s Marine Operations Center for the Pacific Ocean (MOC-P) to Newport, OR, beginning in 2011. Newport was chosen because of its ability to meet infrastructure needs, the competitive pricing on the proposal, close proximity to the Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC, which includes NOAA labs and employees), the quality of life for employees, the proximity to the ocean and maritime industry resources, and the ability to meet the planned occupancy date.
The Port of Newport signed a 20-year lease with NOAA for the center, located across the street from the HMSC. The 10-acre site has been renovated to include a new warehouse and office buildings, a 1,500-foot pier for NOAA ships, and a floating dock for small boats. The Port built the facilities using $19M in funds allocated by the State Legislature along with $12M from a revenue bond issued by the Port. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on June 3, 2010, and a Dedication Ceremony was held on August 20, 2011; each was attended by thousands of people from the coastal and statewide community. Members of the US Congressional Delegation, the Governor, the State Legislature’s Coastal Caucus, and OSU leadership attended both events.
What is NOAA MOC-P?
It is the “Marine Operations Center – Pacific”. The MOC-P is responsible for the operation, staffing, and homeporting of ten NOAA research vessels. A recent and unexpected development is the relocation of MOC leadership to the Newport facility, which opens up further opportunities for institutional and scientific collaboration. When fully staffed, approximately 65 federal employees will be based in Newport for ship support (e.g., engineering, scheduling, HR). Vessel crew represents another 110 employees, many of whom will not relocate to Newport, although they have spent extended periods of time residing in Newport during the winter of 2011-12 (see below).
Winter 2011-2012 saw five NOAA vessels dockside at the new facility; along with Wecoma, the visibility of the ships from multiple vantage points in Newport as well as the uniformed crews of the NOAA vessels presented a unique opportunity for outreach and connection with the community. The presence of the ships also represented a welcome off-season economic boost for Newport. The five ships are:
- the new fisheries research vessel Bell M. Shimada,
- the hydrographic vessels Rainier and Fairweather
- McArthur II
- Oscar Dyson
Opportunities and OSU Linkages
HMSC is developing close ties with the new MOC-P facility. In addition to the broadly overlapping OSU research and the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies (CIMRS, a NOAA – OSU cooperative institute), three NOAA activities are located in existing NOAA buildings on the HMSC campus. Before and during relocation, HMSC initiated and supported outreach efforts with training and updates for Visitor Center docents, a speaker series, and participation in planning Groundbreaking and Dedication events. The shore- and ship-based crews have been welcomed into the HMSC Community, and have engaged in a variety of ways, including attending and presenting at HMSC’s weekly seminar, participating in fundraiser events, using HMSC facilities for trainings and meetings, hosting a ship tour for Visitor Center docents and participating in ‘Donuts’, a weekly HMSC institution hosted by the Hatfield Student Organization. Additionally, OSU Communications met with MOC-P to identify areas of academic opportunities, and plans are underway for a meet-and-greet with HMSC leadership and faculty followed by ship tours geared for HMSC scientists. Opportunities for broader research cooperation across the HMSC and OSU, student experience on the NOAA vessels, and cooperation in logistics continue to be explored.
The roles and missions of the NOAA vessels and the OSU UNOLS (University-National Ocean Laboratory System) vessel Wecoma are complementary. NOAA vessels are typically fully subscribed and support NOAA mission activities through the different NOAA line offices, while the Wecoma (and starting shortly, the Wecoma’s replacement Oceanus) serves as a national resource for the academic research community as well as occasional federal projects. Synergies in vessel support have already occurred in many areas including:
- logistics, staging, and economies of scale (arranging joint inspections, exploring fueling by barge);
- equipment sharing (cranes, fork lifts);
- personnel recruitment and broadened employment opportunities;
- training (the first UNOLS/NOAA joint Technician Training Conference occurred in December 2012); and
- planning and sharing of expertise.
This may also occur in areas of small boat safety, at-sea safety training, and scientific diving. In addition to sharing in vessel support efforts, the proximity of the HMSC and MOC-P has created new opportunities for collaboration that have not existed at this level in the past.
The MOC-P’s presence and activities offer opportunities for public and youth education, engagement, and outreach through cooperation with the HMSC Visitor Center, Oregon Sea Grant, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The Visitor Center hosted an exhibit developed by NOAA highlighting NOAA’s seagoing history, and Sea Grant's expertise in free-choice-learning could be utilized further to create displays at the Visitor Center and Aquarium that highlight real-time locations of NOAA ships and videos of research occurring on them. Additionally, OSU’s linkage to K-12 science teachers provides opportunities for “teacher-at-sea” programs.
Education may also be viewed as a two-way street, with educational opportunities at OSU for MOC-P staff, both in advanced degrees and potentially Extended Campus coursework. Recently, a presentation on the OSU Professional Masters Program was provided to MOC-P staff.
Ocean Observing Systems
OSU has been selected to play an integral role in the establishment of the OOI ocean observatories network with funding from the National Science Foundation. Infrastructure improvements in Newport will host selected functions of the observatory. MOC-P’s presence creates clear linkages for vessel use as well as collaboration across academic and NOAA ocean observing activities. Community efforts are underway to stimulate economic development around ocean observing activities.
Linking to NOAA Science Cruises
OSU researchers and graduate students may have opportunities to conduct research on NOAA vessels. It would be dependent upon several factors, including available berth space, compatibility of the research, and non-interference with the mission of the vessel. Examples might include sampling or gear deployment while underway or on station, visual surveys while underway, etc. Any such use would require advance discussion with, and approval by, the Chief Scientist and/or Principal Investigator of the cruise, MOC-P and the commanding officer of the vessel.
Newport’s Marine Science Community
HMSC has led efforts to coalesce the marine science and educational activities on Newport’s South Beach Peninsula into a cohesive Marine Science Community. This Community includes HMSC (OSU, NOAA Fisheries and NOAA Research, ODFW, EPA, USGS, USFWS and USDA), NOAA MOC/MOC-P, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium, as well as the Port of Newport. With this strategy, lines of communication between OSU and adjacent facilities remain open to collaborative opportunities and developing synergies.
1. ACT Members
George Boehlert, Team Lead, Director, HMSC, (541 867 0211; cell 541 961 3436; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Michael Banks, Director, CIMRS (541 867 0420; cell 541 270 6159; email@example.com)
Maryann Bozza, HMSC Program Manager (541 867 0234; cell 541 219 2612; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Robert Collier, Professor, COAS (541 737 4367; cell 541 760 1749; email@example.com )
Mark Floyd, OSU University Advancement (541 737 0788; cell 541 231 4567; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Shawn Rowe, Education Director, Oregon Sea Grant (541 867 0190; cell 541 961 4519; Shawn.Rowe@oregonstate.edu)
Kate Sinner, OSU Federal Relations Director (503-553-3445; cell 503 891 3332; email@example.com
Demian Bailey, Superintendent, COAS Ship Support (541 867 0224; 541 250 0555; firstname.lastname@example.org)
3. Other pertinent Contacts
Rick Brown – NOAA-NWFSC Resource Management Specialist, P: 541-867-0522 C: 541-961-9061, Rick.email@example.com
Captain Eric Berkowitz – Deputy Director, NOAA MOC, P: 541-867-8802
Captain Wade Blake - Commanding Officer, NOAA MOC-P, P: 541-867-8701
JoAnn Barton – President, Port of Newport Commission, P: (541) 574-6456, firstname.lastname@example.org
Don Mann – General Manager, Port of Newport, P: 541-265-7758; C: 541-270-3126, Portman@portofnewport.com
4. Pertinent Web Resources
NOAA MOC-P; http://www.moc.noaa.gov/mop.html
Hatfield Marine Science Center; http://hmsc.oregonstate.edu/
Port of Newport; http://www.portofnewport.com/
Project updates: http://www.portofnewport.com/news.php
R/V Wecoma: http://www.shipops.oregonstate.edu/ops/wecoma/
Yaquina Bay Ocean Observing Initiative: http://ybooi.org/