To highlight the value of oceanographic exploration and the need to inspire future generations of young scientists, U.S. Ambassador to Fiji Frankie A. Reed toured Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego’s research vessel Roger Revelle during a recent call in the port city of Suva.
Led by Scripps Oceanography’s Wes Hill, captain of Roger Revelle, Ambassador Reed visited the ship with students from the University of the South Pacific and members of the embassy staff and their families. Reed has served as American ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu since 2011. The tour included a stop on Roger Revelle’s bridge, a video about the hydrothermal vents that were the research targets of the ship’s next mission led by NOAA scientists , a remotely operated vehicle, and a CTD rosette that measures conductivity and temperature at depth and captures samples of water from deep within the ocean.
“Opportunities like this can only encourage youth to study the sciences and to explore the vast ocean around them,” said Ambassador Reed, who thanked the ship’s crew for highlighting a wide variety of fascinating career options in the sciences.
The Suva port call came at the conclusion of the Tonga Trench Expedition, an ambitious voyage led by Scripps graduate student Rosa Leon that explored the extreme environments of the deep sea. During the expedition the researchers extracted a core from more than 9,100 meters (29,855 feet) below the sea surface, providing significant new information about the geology of one of the deepest regions of the ocean and the organisms that live there. The expedition was funded by the UC Ship Funds Program, which offers students exceptional opportunities for hands-on education and leadership at sea.
“The ambassador’s visit was at the end of a highly successful UC Ship Funds Program cruise, another one of our student-conceived, student-executed programs that are so unique to Scripps,” said Bruce Appelgate, associate director of ship operations and marine technical support at Scripps. “The ships Scripps operate serve as mobile University of California laboratories, and outreach efforts like this promote dissemination of knowledge worldwide, in a very direct way.”
A global-class research vessel operated by Scripps, R/V Roger Revelle is owned by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and travels globally studying the world’s oceans. The 273-foot vessel was built in 1996 and is the flagship of the Scripps fleet, the largest among U.S. research institutions. In addition to R/V Roger Revelle, Scripps operates the research vessels Melville, New Horizon, and Robert Gordon Sproul, and FLIP, the only scientific research platform of its kind in the world. In 2015, Scripps will take delivery of ONR’s newest research vessel, AGOR 28 (Auxiliary General Purpose Oceanographic Research vessel), an “ocean class” research ship, and begin operating it for the benefit of the oceanographic community.
Each year the Scripps fleet averages more than 800 funded operational days working at sea. Thousands of scientists, students, and government researchers use Scripps research vessels every year, making them the most widely used oceanographic vessels in the United States. From January 2009 through July 2012, Scripps ships carried nearly 4,200 people to sea. More than half of the users are from University of California. About one-quarter of the ship users are from other U.S. academic institutions, with the remainder made up of researchers from the U.S. Navy, NOAA, other government agencies, international researchers, and K-12 educators. Scripps began operations in 1904 and has operated more than 23 ships.
-- Mario C. Aguilera