Research Vessel Seward Johnson

The R/V Seward Johnson was sold in 2010 to the Cepemar Group, a Brazilian environmental consulting firm. This page is no longer being updated.

R/V Seward Johnson

The R/V Seward Johnson, namesake of Harbor Branch founder J. Seward Johnson, Sr., was a 204-foot oceanographic and submersible-support research vessel. Built in 1984, commissioned in 1985 and extensively rebuilt and stretched in 1994, the ship now displaces 1,282 tons. A 6,000 nautical mile range and a speed of 13 knots is delivered by two 850 horse power engines. The vessel is capable of traveling and working in any of the world's oceans while accommodating up to 40 people (29 investigators, sub crew, or technicians; 11 ship’s crew).

The R/V Seward Johnson was one of two Harbor Branch-owned research vessels that were operated by experienced personnel, expert in surface oceanographic procedures and submersible vehicle launch and recovery, supported by in-house ocean engineers. The R/V Seward Johnson was part of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS).

Science and Research Support

Typical applications undertaken by the vessel included submersible/remotely operated vehicle (ROV) support, large towed systems support, deployment and retrieval of moored devices, surface oceanographic/hydrographic applications, and diving support. The ship also had a CTD with a dedicated crew of technicians that operated this and other standard oceanographic instrumentation.

The R/V Seward Johnson was primarily a submersible tender designed to support manned sub operations, as well as ROV operations. Specifically, occasionally the Clelia, and most often the Johnson-Sea-Link (JSL) submersibles were operated from this platform. Researchers choose which sub to use based on the depth of their planned dives. An 18-ton, A-frame crane system mounted on the stern of the ship launched and retrieved these submersibles.

Other deck equipment included:

  • A-frame on side, with forward (1.5 tons), center (10 tons), and after (5 tons) lift points;
  • Appleton crane, 10 ton capacity and 38-foot outreach;
  • Appleton lightweight crane 3.5 ton capacity with 21-foot outreach, installed if required;
  • Two capstans at stern;
  • New England Trawler anchor windlass two anchors and two rope heads at bow;
  • Various trawl, hydrographic, conductor, CTD and constant tension tow winches available; and
  • Various small boats.

The ship also included a briefing room outfitted with a technical and science library, a conference table, video recorders, monitor, and photo lab.

Integrated Computer Network

The R/V Seward Johnson navigated using an integrated mission profiler/navigation system and employed a Global Positioning System for the ship, submersibles, and ROVs. It also relied on a variety of compasses, radar, and satellite system navigation tools. Most data and communications were transmitted via telephone, fax, e-mail, and a satellite system known as SeaNet’s Inmarsat (B High-Speed Data) link.

All labs and staterooms were networked through Windows NT servers. Worldwide email and internet connectivity was available as well.