The R/V Roger Revelle
The Roger Revelle after its extensive overhaul. Photo courtesy of Scripps Institution of Oceanography

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography‘s flagship research vessel R/V Roger Revelle is back at work following a $60 million midlife overhaul, the research institute announced Thursday.

“Roger Revelle isn’t just revitalized, it is better than new,” said Bruce Appelgate, associate director and head of ship operations. “The midlife refit was an opportunity to apply everything we’ve learned about the ship since 1996, in order to make a great research vessel even more effective.”

The overhaul extended the ship’s service life by 15 to 20 years and improved its scientific capabilities, habitability, and environmental footprint.

Upgrades included new diesel engines that reduce emissions by up to two-thirds, ballast water systems designed to protect against the spread of invasive species, and the use of heat captured from the ship’s engines to desalinate seawater.

The major part of the overhaul was done at a shipyard in Oregon, but Scripps technicians completed the work after the ship returned to San Diego in July.

The Roger Revelle’s first expedition following the overhaul began in early November when it crossed the equator to retrieve ocean-bottom seismometers and collect rocks from seamounts and underwater volcanoes.

The second research cruise begins on Christmas day. This 60-day expedition will collect samples, photographs, and sensor data from plankton concentrations in eddies that form in the Southern Pacific.

The ship is named for the former Scripps director who led the effort to establish UC San Diego and who was considered a visionary in the field of climate science.

“The revitalization of R/V Roger Revelle will enable even more scientific discoveries at sea to further our understanding of our planet,” said Margaret Leinen, vice chancellor for marine sciences at UC San Diego and director of Scripps. “We appreciate the continued leadership from Congress to build and renovate the U.S. research fleet.”

The ship, one of the largest in the U.S. academic research fleet, is owned by the Office of Naval Research and based at the Nimitz Marine Facility on Point Loma, where Scripps maintains its research vessels.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.