Farewell to R/V Melville

R/V Melville leaving San Diego

R/V Melville leaving San Diego

Researchers and mariners will be onboard at Broadway Pier to showcase 45 years of global ocean exploration and discovery as research vessel Melville is retired from national science service

The San Diego community is invited to a free open house and tours aboard the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Research Vessel Melville at Broadway Pier. This is the research ship’s farewell as it is retired from the U.S. Academic Research Fleet after 45 years of service to many generations of ocean scientists.

Scripps research ships are rarely accessible to the public due to the scope of ocean research, safety concerns, and intricate instruments onboard. This rare open house opportunity provides a glimpse into the rigors of research work at sea and the excitement of oceangoing exploration.   

Scripps Oceanography celebrates R/V Melville as a milestone in Scripps’s century-long history to fully explore the oceans for the benefit of society and the environment.

WHEN:      Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015   9 a.m. - 12 noon

                   No reservations needed.              

                   NOTE:  Closed-toed shoes (no heels) required for boarding ship.

                   NOTE:  Photo ID required for all adults for ship access.

WHERE:  Broadway Pier, North Harbor Drive at Broadway, San Diego, 92101

DIRECTIONS AND PARKING: Parking for Broadway Pier is available off-site via metered street parking or at a number of paid lots in the surrounding area. Broadway Pier is accessible by public transportation, including the local trolley. Trains run regularly from the Coaster Santa Fe and Amtrak Santa Fe train depot stations nearby.            


Built: 1969          Length: 279 feet        Owner: U.S. Navy
Crew: 23            Science Party: 38       Endurance: 60 days

R/V Melville was built in 1969 with funding by the U.S. Navy, and subsequently owned by the Office of Naval Research and operated by Scripps as part of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS).  Configured as a general-purpose oceanographic research vessel, Melville supported a wide range of scientific activities across every discipline of oceanography, and involving capabilites as diverse as deep-towing cameras, deploying massive moorings, precisely maneuvering remotely-operated vehicles thousands of meters below the ship, and launching (and recovering!) unmanned aircraft used to measure gravity and atmospheric physical properties. 

A Global Class vessel, Melville excelled at projecting our observational capabilities to the far corners of the planet, operating for extended periods of time far from port through all kinds of weather, with a full complement of  state-of-the-art sensing systems and instruments aboard.  Melville sailed more than 1.5 million miles from the Arctic Circle to the Southern Ocean, crossed the equator more than 90 times, mapped the deepest spot on the planet, recovered core and dredge samples from trenches greater than 8,000 meters deep, and made first-ever observations of deep ocean volcanic eruptions.  Much of what we know today about plate tectonics, marine biodiversity, ocean circulation, waves, climate and the multitude of ways the ocean impacts human society, has benefited from research conducted aboard Melville

Melville served much longer than the design expectation of a 30-year life, having undergone a service life extension in 1992 that extended the useful life of this ship to 45 years, and resulted in a more capable and efficient vessel.  In 2014 Melville reached the end of this extended period, and was retired from UNOLS service in September.

After such long and distinguished service, Melville deserves a fitting send-off.  On Saturday, more than 600 scientists, mariners, marine technicians, staff, friends and family will come together one last time to tour the vessel.  There will be music, food and countless stories of incredible adventures as we  celebrate the wealth of understanding that Melville made possible.

Public tours of the vessel will be held from 0900 until noon.  An invitation-only reception follows, from 1300 until 1600.