Research Vessel (R/V) Thomas G. Thompson is owned by the U.S. Navy Ofﬁce of Naval Research and is operated by the School of Oceanography at the University of Washington as part of the University National Oceanographic Laboratories System (UNOLS) fleet .
The 274-foot-long vessel is equipped for conducting multidisciplinary research projects that involve large teams of scientists. The ship has three winches, three cranes, and an A-Frame for launching scientific equipment such as remotely operated vehicles. Other instruments on the vessel include a state-of-the-art Conductivity Temperature Depth system to measure water properties and an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler to measure water currents. Multiple laboratory spaces on board are available for processing and analyzing collected scientific samples.
To study the seafloor, the Thompson is equipped with a Kongsberg Simrad EM 302 multibeam echo sounder, which is designed to map the seafloor from depths of 10 to 5,000 meters. A sub-bottom sonar system and dual frequency transducer are used in conjunction with the echo sounder to allow researchers to further create images of the ocean floor.
Scientists and ship personnel on board R/V Thompson are split into “watches” so that a crew of people is always working—collecting data and managing the ship, 24 hours a day. The ship operates virtually anywhere in the world's ocean basins.
The vessel is named after Dr. Thomas G. Thompson, the first American chemist to devote his major efforts to investigating the chemistry of seawater and founder of the University of Washington's oceanographic laboratories in 1930.
Recent Missions Supported by the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research