The Scripps Fleet Gets a Green Facelift


UC San Diego hosted its third annual Sustainability Awards in April to recognize members of the university community whose outstanding commitment to eco-friendly practices makes UCSD one of the greenest campuses in the nation. Martin Klein, assistant marine superintendent at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, is one of the pioneers leading the way. 

Klein received an award for reducing carbon emissions of the Scripps research fleet by 30 tons and saving more than 27,000 gallons of fuel annually by using a new kind of paint on R/V Roger Revelle, the flagship of the Scripps fleet.

By using a specialized, eco-friendly paint on the bottom of Roger Revelle, Klein was able to reduce fuel consumption by more than 6.5 percent since its application in December 2007 in Durban, South Africa.

“This is yet another way for us to walk our talk,” Klein said.

Unlike traditional antifouling paints, this new product from International Paint needs only to be applied every six years as opposed to the standard two. It is a non-toxic, non-ablative system, meaning it won’t flake off and contaminate the oceans with toxic chips. It also prevents marine organisms from securing to the ship’s bottom only to be scraped off when it’s time to repaint. Instead, the paint maintains a slick composition, similar to the skin of a dolphin, which releases organisms when the ship is underway and reduces drag on the ship.

Klein intends to eventually outfit the entire Scripps fleet with similar efficient underwater paint systems as one of the many steps taken in the walk toward greening the research industry. His latest green step was the application of the same paint product on the propellers of the smaller, less powerful R/V Robert Gordon Sproul. “The ship may not move through the water fast enough to release the organisms but the propellers do,” said Klein.

Yet his efforts don’t stop at the Scripps research fleet. Klein not only works at sea but also lives there, on a sailboat with his wife in San Diego Harbor. He wants to expand the use of this new paint from commercial to private application. He hopes that possible tax incentives and attractive pricing from the paint manufacturer and boat yards promoting green alternatives will encourage private boat owners to do their part and protect the oceans by using the new paint.

“At Scripps our mission is to study and protect our oceans and planet. This mission does not stop at the shipboard laboratory door. As ship’s crews and land-based support, we continually search for non-polluting, energy efficient, and carbon-neutral ways to do our work,” said Klein.

--Caitlin Denham

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