Rendering of R/V Bob and Betty Beyster

New Research Vessel Bob and Betty Beyster to Arrive at Scripps Institution of Oceanography Thanks to Private Support

Nearshore vessel was made possible by gifts made in in honor of Science Applications International Corporation founder and his wife

A new, fast coastal research vessel will join the fleet of ships managed by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego thanks to a philanthropic initiative that raised more than $1.2 million in honor of the late Dr. J. Robert Beyster, founder of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), and his widow Betty Beyster.

Research Vessel (R/V) Bob and Betty Beyster will enable scientists at Scripps Oceanography and others in the teaching community to conduct local research, technology development and ocean-based education. The vessel is expected to be available for use in San Diego later this spring. 

Scientists and students at Scripps have long benefited from a fleet of research vessels to conduct oceanographic research at sea. There has been a need, however, for a vessel with a nearshore range, low daily cost, and adaptability to support advanced research with local and global impact.

The new R/V Bob and Betty Beyster is a 42-foot scientific workboat with a range of 800 kilometers (500 nautical miles), a cruising speed better than 25 knots, and a capacity for six scientists and a boat operator. The vessel, which will be owned by Scripps, has an A-Frame for lifting up to 4,000 pounds, an adaptable deck foundation for configuring and securing technology, and a computer-controlled engine system to automatically maintain position and heading, which will be useful for the range of research and technology development anticipated onboard.

In 2017, Cindy Glancy, a member of the Scripps Director’s Council that advises Director Margaret Leinen, identified this vessel as an opportunity to memorialize the impact of SAIC and Bob and Betty Beyster.

“This vessel marked the perfect way to honor Bob and Betty’s legacy,” said Glancy. “It appealed to many people as an important project to recognize the Beysters’ impact on their lives, particularly Bob’s vision in starting an employee-owned company and Betty’s continued friendship and mentorship.”

Betty and the Beyster family embraced the project after learning more about the vessel and its potential impact. Glancy and the Beysters’ daughter, Mary Ann, who also is a member of the Scripps Director’s Council, along with Mary Ann’s brother Jim Beyster, Tom Dillon and Mindy Pawinski, then formed a committee that solicited and raised the funds. Donors included committee members and their spouses, friends and family members, former SAIC associates, Leidos Holdings and other council members. The total raised included $800,000 for the cost of the vessel, $200,000 to support additional scientific instrumentation on the workboat, and an additional $200,000 for a student endowment to support time at sea, with the goal of continuing to raise funds to support students. Scripps scientists will also install research instruments on board, which are supported by extramural grants.

“This opportunity really aligned my dad’s love for being on the water along with his and my mom’s philanthropic interests in investing in students and giving them direct access to hands-on science,” said Mary Ann Beyster. “The family was excited to support the vessel and students, and in awe by the outpouring of generosity from the donors to name this vessel in their honor.”

An additional $100,000 was raised for a floating dock for the vessel through contributions from 15 members of the Director’s Council, spearheaded by Paul Brooks. The dock will be installed at Scripps’ Nimitz Marine Facility in Point Loma, and features an innovative design that creates the capacity to operate mid-size scientific vessels alongside larger ships. At the Nimitz Marine Facility, the new vessel will be maintained alongside the Navy-owned and Scripps-operated research vessels Sally Ride, Roger Revelle, and Research Platform FLIP (FLoating Instrument Platform), and the University of California-owned Robert Gordon Sproul.

“The Beyster family has a long tradition of investing in students and providing opportunities for hands-on access to science,” said Margaret Leinen, vice chancellor of marine sciences at UC San Diego and director of Scripps Oceanography. “UC San Diego is incredibly thankful for this commitment, and we extend our gratitude to this group of donors that joined together to support this new vessel in honor of Bob and Betty.” 

The scientific equipment provided by Scripps scientists includes a seafloor mapping system contributed by geosciences professor Neal Driscoll; a knuckle crane acquired by oceanographers Eric Terrill and Luc Lenain that will enable the vessel to deploy and recover autonomous vehicles; a mini remotely operated vehicle contributed by the directors of the Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology; and a hull-mounted transducer for underwater communications, supported by marine mammal acoustics researchers John Hildebrand and Simone Baumann-Pickering.

“Scripps operates a world-class fleet of oceangoing research vessels. This fleet is now made even more capable with the addition of R/V Bob and Betty Beyster, which fills an important niche for research and teaching opportunities close to shore on a fast, nimble platform equipped with instruments and over-the-side handling equipment appropriate for heavy coastal scientific applications,” said Scripps Associate Director Bruce Appelgate, who oversees ship operations. “This vessel enables tremendous opportunities, whether conducting experiments in the La Jolla Canyon just offshore, or expeditions throughout the Channel Islands.”

A plaque honoring donors to the vessel at the $10,000 level or above will be on display at Birch Aquarium at Scripps in 2019. The gifts for both the vessel and the dock contribute to the Campaign for UC San Diego, the university’s $2 billion comprehensive fundraising effort to empower the next generation of innovators to blaze a new path toward revolutionary ideas, unexpected answers, life-saving discoveries and planet-changing impact.

The endowment to support scientific time at sea for students will continue to raise funds to provide ongoing student access to the vessel. Additional philanthropic contributions to this endowment can be made online here, or by contacting the development office at Scripps at (858) 822-1865 or

More information on the Scripps fleet can be found here:

Betty and Bob Beyster
Betty and Bob Beyster

About Scripps Oceanography

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego is one of the world’s most important centers for global earth science research and education. In its second century of discovery, Scripps scientists work to understand and protect the planet, and investigate our oceans, Earth, and atmosphere to find solutions to our greatest environmental challenges. Scripps offers unparalleled education and training for the next generation of scientific and environmental leaders through its undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs. The institution also operates a fleet of four oceanographic research vessels, and is home to Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the public exploration center that welcomes 500,000 visitors each year.

About UC San Diego

At the University of California San Diego, we embrace a culture of exploration and experimentation. Established in 1960, UC San Diego has been shaped by exceptional scholars who aren’t afraid to look deeper, challenge expectations and redefine conventional wisdom. As one of the top 15 research universities in the world, we are driving innovation and change to advance society, propel economic growth and make our world a better place. Learn more at

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