R/V Pisces to fill in for Bigelow on fall bottom trawl surveys

WOODS HOLE, MA – When one of the two common shaft 1,542-hp propulsion motors on the NOAA research vessel Henry B. Bigelow failed in mid-July off the coast of New Jersey, the initial estimate was a six-week downtime.

She steamed first to her homeport of Newport, RI and then to Colonna’s Shipyard in Norfolk, VA where the she was drydocked in late August for repairs.

When it became apparent that the Bigelow would be out until at least November while replacement parts were manufactured, the NOAA scheduled the Pisces, a research vessel homeported in Pascagoula, MS, to perform the fall bottom trawl survey by mid-October for the Northeast Fisheries Science Center.

“The repair required drydocking the Bigelow, removing the motor, and sending it to a specialized overhaul facility in Ohio,” said David Hall, public communications officer for NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO).

“Due to lead times on the manufacturing of replacement motor components, which are custom-made due to acoustic quieting requirements, the estimated time of repair completion has been adjusted from earlier estimates.”

The electric propulsion motors are powered by diesel generators to maintain a low acoustic signature, allowing researchers to study fish and other marine animals without significantly altering their behavior with its noise, Hall said.

There are three research ships that serve NOAA Fisheries science centers in addition to the Bigelow…

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