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HomeScuba DivingNOAA Christen's New Research Vessel

NOAA Christen's New Research Vessel

The Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) christened the R/V Shearwater, a 62′, high-speed Teknicraft aluminum-hull catamaran research vessel. This new vessel will be an important new tool to enhance research in the California National Marine Sanctuaries.

Held at the Sea Landing Dock at Santa Barbara Harbor, the vessel’s homeport and the headquarters for Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS), the vessel will also serve Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, all located off the California coast.

"The R/V Shearwater will usher in a new level of research capability for both Channel Islands and the California sanctuaries," said Captain Lillestolen. "It is the first research vessel built specifically for the sanctuary use. It took a dedicated team effort, including sanctuary researchers and marine specialists, to make it possible.

R/V Shearwater will hold 24 passengers with a top speed of 24 knots and cruising speed of 20 knots. The onboard facilities and equipment can support extensive scuba dive operations as well with its o nboard berthing, stowage, galley and safety equipment allowing for multiple-day excursions with crews of up to 10 scientists.

The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is one of 13 marine sanctuaries administered by the Commerce Department’s NOAA. It encompasses 1,658 square miles of water surrounding San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara Islands, extending from mean high tide to 6 nautical miles offshore around each of the five islands. A fertile combination of warm and cool currents results in a great variety of plants and animals, including nearshore kelp forests, fish, invertebrates, cetaceans, pinnipeds, and marine birds.


Cliff Etzel
Cliff Etzel
Cliff is the former Freediving editor of He is now a freelance journalist and film-maker.