The US Navy-owned research vessel (R/V) Roger Revelle is undergoing an upgrade programme that is intended to extend its working life and enhance its operating systems.

The year-long modernisation exercise is intended to strengthen the vessel’s research capabilities for the navy and scientific organisations. The refit is expected to extend the vessel’s life by another 15-20 years.

Vigor Shipyard will perform the $52m mid-life refit, which is sponsored by ONR, Scripps and the National Science Foundation in Portland, Oregon.

As part of the upgrade, Vigor will install new diesel engines that have been designed to run cleaner and more efficiently.

ONR research vessel programme programme officer Rob Sparrock said: “The refit will update the propulsion systems with the newest in marine technology.

“This means better diesel-electric generation and distribution systems, stronger compliance with environmental requirements, and reduced obsolescence of various systems and components.”

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Revelle will also be equipped with the latest navigation and ship-positioning systems, and sophisticated sonar. These enhancements will enable the ship to map the ocean floor in sharper detail.

“The refit will update the propulsion systems with the newest in marine technology.”

ONR Ocean Battlespace and Expeditionary Access Department head Dr Tom Drake said: “This refit of the R/V Revelle is important because it bolsters the scientific and seagoing capabilities of a true workhorse of a ship.

“The refit will allow the Revelle to continue to support Navy and national oceanographic research objectives. It also enables additional years of service; hundreds of thousands of ocean miles sailed; research opportunities for thousands of scientists; and the training of the next generation of sea-going scientists and technicians.”

The 273ft-long research ship usually spends more than 250 days at sea a year.

Since 1996, Revelle has been operated and maintained by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego.

Services are rendered under a charter lease agreement with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), which is the agency responsible for managing the ship on behalf of the US Navy.

Two more navy-owned research vessels have completed or are undergoing refit, including R/V Thomas G Thompson and R/V Atlantis.

While R/V Thomas G Thompson completed an 18-month mid-life refit at Vigor Marine’s Harbor Island shipyard in Seattle last year, Atlantis is scheduled for refit in 2020.

The US Navy currently owns six of these research vessels.