Research Vessel Seward Johnson II

The R/V Seward Johnson II is no longer operated by the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution. This page is no longer being updated.

NOAA Ship McArthur

At 168 feet and displacing 781 tons, the R/V Seward Johnson II is owned and operated by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution and was built in 1982 as an offshore supply vessel. Harbor Branch converted it to support marine science research and submersible operations in 1988. The Seward Johnson II was formerly known as the Edwin Link, but was renamed in honor of Seward Johnson Jr., Harbor Branch’s chairman.

The Seward Johnson II could travel 7,000 nautical miles at a cruising speed of 11 knots. The ship was propelled by two diesel engines and a 465-horsepower bow thruster that could rotate the ship 360-degrees. With 38 berths, the vessel accommodated a permanent complement of 11 crewmembers and an additional five to seven technicians to maintain and operate the submersible onboard, leaving room for 20 to 22 scientists. The ship was supported and maintained by Harbor Branch ocean engineers and operated by personnel with expertise in submersible launch-and-recovery operations. The vessel was part of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS).

Science and Research Support

The Seward Johnson II typically was used to facilitate oceanographic studies, and primarily supported submersible use, specifically, the Clelia and the Johnson-Sea-Link (JSL) submersibles, as well as the use of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). Although submersible operations were the ship’s primary mission, it was also well-equipped to carry out surface oceanography operations as well bathymetric and bottom profile work. Often 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.

The vessel contained abundant laboratory space, including a 264-square-foot lab devoted to sub maintenance. The sub lab housed electronic testing equipment, spare parts and supplies, and a machine shop. A 220-square-foot wet lab included both fresh and saltwater, and a 342-square-foot dry lab offered raw and filtered seawater, in addition to a refrigerator and freezer.

The vessel also offered two climate-controlled environmental labs with freezers and a 192-square-foot storage room for scientific equipment. A compressor room also contained diving equipment. Scientists generally brought equipment specific to their research project on board, including microscopes and computers.

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 Seward Johnson II 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 Inmarsat.

All staterooms and labs were connected through a Windows NT-based LAN. Worldwide email and internet connectivity was possible as well.