NOAA Ship McArthur

NOAA Ship McArthur was decommissioned on May 20, 2003, and is no longer in service. This page is no longer being updated.

NOAA Ship McArthur

At 175 feet in length and displacing more than 1,000 tons, NOAA Ship McArthur was one of a fleet of vessels that conducted a range of oceanographic research and assessments. With a home port at the Pacific Marine Center on Lake Union in Seattle, Washington, most of the McArthur’s work was carried out in several national marine sanctuaries off the U.S. West Coast. The McArthur was named for William Pope McArthur, a 19th century naval officer who served in the Coast Survey for many years and became the pioneer hydrographer on the West Coast.

Commissioned in December 1966, the McArthur had an endurance of 30 days at sea and a range of 6,600 nautical miles with a cruising speed of 10 knots. The McArthur carried a complement of three officers, 19 crew members, and up to 13 scientists. The scientists who carried out research aboard the McArthur come from many divisions of NOAA, other federal and state government agencies, and from academia.

Science and Research Support

At the bridge, the crew concentrates on navigating the McArthur. The crew depends on sophisticated electronic systems for navigation and communications.

At the bridge, the crew concentrates on navigating theĀ McArthur. The crew depends on electronic systems for navigation and communications.

The McArthur was equipped with an electronics shop, a machine shop, and a bosun's shop. Each shop could repair, and, on occasion, modify scientific sampling equipment at sea. This enabled the crew to adapt specialized equipment and fabricate damaged parts to ensure that projects are completed.

The McArthur also had an oceanography lab, an instrument lab, and a plot-room lab where scientists could set up experimental devices to analyze data, and refrigerate samples collected while the ship is under way. Aboard the vessel, scientists made detailed observations of marine mammal and bird activities, as well as conducted a wide range of operations, including assessments of conductivity and temperature at depth (CTD), observations of water clarity, acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) transects, sound velocity profiling, launch weather balloons, acoustic surveys, scuba diving, and plankton tows using several types of nets.

Integrated Computer Network

The McArthur also supported a suite of sensors for meteorological and oceanographic data acquisition to supplement scientific research. This sensor suite was supported by two high-powered server computers. A well-developed computer network integrated nearly all of the shipboard computers, including several servers and workstations, along with other specialized computer platforms.

The shipboard network and computer systems were also vital assets. The up-to-date shipboard computers and software were used for everything from sensor acquisition and data analysis to administration and payroll. Intranet services supported many network applications.

The McArthur was also outfitted with a range of electronic systems for communications and navigation. Data was transmitted via VHF radio, cell phone, or a satellite system known as INMARSAT. Gyro compasses and a global positioning system (GPS) were advanced navigational equipment used to augment traditional radar and paper charts for determining the ship’s position.

Four cranes, two A-frames, and three winches were mounted on the deck to facilitate the movement of scientific equipment, smaller boats, and submersibles from the water to the ship deck to the dock. The ship also carried three rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIB). These boats could be used for a wide range of activities, including personnel and cargo transfer, rescue operations, diving, and various types of sampling.


To learn more:

NOAA Ship McArthur, NOAA Marine Operations Center