Vessel will support marine science research for more than two dozen institutions and agencies across the state
TAMPA, Fla. (May 31, 2016) – The Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) and the University of South Florida (USF) System will host a “Keel Laying Ceremony” at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 1 in Tarpon Springs for a new research vessel that will replace FIO’s soon-to-be-retiring Research Vessel (R/V) Bellows. The new vessel will be instrumental in helping scientists study situations like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill or red tide.
During the 2016 Legislative Session, the Legislature appropriated and Governor Scott approved $3 million in state funding to match $3.3 million raised from FIO member institutions and the City of St. Petersburg to construct this new state of the art marine research vessel for the State of Florida.
The event, which is similar to a groundbreaking ceremony, will take place at Duckworth Steel Boats, the shipyard that will construct the new vessel. The facility is located at 1051 Island Ave, Tarpon Springs, Fla. 34689. The ceremony will commemorate the beginning of construction for the new 78-foot vessel to replace the nearly 50-year-old R/V Bellows in the FIO’s fleet and will offer thanks to the many partners and elected officials involved in securing the funding for the project.
The City of St. Petersburg, FIO and some of its member institutions, including USF, UWF, FAU, FGCU, UNF, UF, FIT, Eckerd College, FIU, FAMU, Nova Southeastern, UCF and FSU provided funds from institutional sources to match the $3 million from the State of Florida to allow the construction of the new vessel. Construction is expected to take 12-14 months.
Representatives from each contributing institution are expected to be in attendance to celebrate the milestone. Speakers will include State Senator Jack Latvala, State Representatives Kathleen Peters and Chris Sprowls, Mayor Chris Alahouzos of Tarpon Springs, St. Petersburg City Councilman Karl Nurse and USF System President Judy Genshaft.
Parking will be available onsite. Because the ceremony will take place outdoors under a tent in the dirt lot of a shipyard, guests are encouraged to wear appropriate footwear and attire for the location. The ceremony is expected to last approximately 30-45 minutes and tours of other vessels recently completed by Duckworth Steel Boats will be available immediately following the ceremony.
FIO is a State University System of Florida Academic Infrastructure Support Organization, established by the Board of Governors and a consortium of 30 various scientific and educational resources. FIO is hosted by the University of South Florida.
The University of South Florida System is a high-impact, global research system dedicated to student success. The USF System includes three institutions: USF; USF St. Petersburg; and USF Sarasota-Manatee. The institutions are separately accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. All institutions have distinct missions and their own detailed strategic plans. Serving over 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.6 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.
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