Thursday, June 21, 2012
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography's research vessel Melville is scheduled to return to San Diego today after a 10-month expedition.
The vessel went on 11 research voyages during its deployment, in which scientists studied climate in the remote South Pacific, water masses south of Africa and the site of the massive 2010 earthquake off Chile, according to Scripps.
Other missions included researching the geology and plate tectonics of the Panama Basin; studying organisms in the Amazon River plume that convert nitrogen into ammonia and other compounds; mapping the sea floor of the southern Atlantic Ocean; and examining the Agulhas Current in the Indian Ocean, which influences weather conditions all the way to Europe.
The Melville, owned by the Navy, has been operated by Scripps Oceanography for 41 years. It is the oldest vessel in the U.S. academic fleet.
In 2015, Scripps will begin operating a new more than 200-foot-long research vessel currently under construction at a shipyard in Anacortes, Wash.
The new ship, which has been given the working name AGOR 28, is expected to be equipped with more modern research instruments than the Melville and about 20 to 30 feet longer.
The Melville has plenty of voyages ahead, though, according to Mario Aguilera of Scripps. He said the vessel will head back out on June 30 with Scripps graduate students studying waters off the San Diego coast.