As the only U.S. federal vessel dedicated to exploration of our largely unknown ocean, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer travels the globe to increase our understanding of the deep ocean. Since the ship was commissioned with NOAA in 2008, missions on the Okeanos Explorer have been conducted to explore the Indonesian “Coral Triangle Region,” benthic environments in the Galápagos, parts of the Caribbean, areas in the Gulf of Mexico, canyons and seamounts off the Northeast U.S. coast, and marine protected areas within the Pacific.
Missions of the 224-foot vessel include mapping, site characterization, reconnaissance, advancing technology, education, and outreach—all focused on understanding, managing, and protecting our ocean. Expeditions are planned collaboratively, with the goal of providing data that will benefit NOAA, the scientific community, and the public.
The ship is equipped with a high-bandwidth satellite communications system capable of transmitting mapping and oceanographic data and real-time, high-definition video feeds from the seafloor to scientists on shore, allowing a theoretically unlimited number of scientists to actively participate in missions. Simultaneously, public viewers can tune in online to join, in real time, the excitement of ocean exploration and discoveries.
The ship is operated by NOAA Corps officers and civilians as part of NOAA's fleet managed by NOAA's Office of Marine and Aviation Operations. Mission equipment is operated by NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research in partnership with the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration .
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer was named in a nationwide ship-naming contest by students from Woodstock High School in Woodstock, Illinois. “Okeanos” is the ancient Greek word for ocean.
Recent Missions Supported by the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research