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Research Vessel ‘Roger Revelle’ Returns Home After Six Years At Sea

— A ship that’s named for the former director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography pulled into port today, after six years of hosting scientific research. The Roger Revelle is operated by Scripps.

Photo by Tom Fudge

TV photographers capture the return to San Diego Bay of the research vessel "Roger Revelle," which had been at sea for six years.

The institution's associate director Bruce Applegate said the ship is long overdue for a little San Diego shore leave.

“The Revelle will be here for about a month. And we’ve got a significant amount of maintenance here,” he said. “We’ve also got some inspections to do.”

The blue and white ship pulled up to a dock on Point Loma that is home to Scripps Institution’s four research vessels. The Revelle was most recently in Tahiti. But six years of travel brought it to points all around the globe, including Tonga, Japan, Samoa and South Africa.

Applegate said maintaining and operating Scripps’ research vessels costs $30 million a year. But that cost is partly born by other academic institutions who also use the ships to do their research.

Applegate said while about 30 percent of research on the Roger Revelle is done by Scripps faculty, a visit to different ports often means welcoming new scientific passengers.

“We’ll have their scientists meet us on board, so we don’t end up driving all over the planet, wasting gas and not getting productive science done,” said Applegate.

One of the scientists who has used the ship in the past year is Ken Melville, an oceanographer at Scripps. He went to sea to measure the way atmospheric heat and wind can cause damaging ocean storms.

Melville mentioned the storm Sandy, which just devastated parts of America’s eastern seaboard.

“By better understanding how the wind forces the ocean, we’ll be able to provide better predictions for weather, of climate, and in particular for these catastrophic events,” he said.

Roger Revelle is best known for his pioneering work into understanding global warming. Revelle was director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography from 1951 to 1964.

The ship that’s named after him is operated by Scripps, but owned by the U.S. Navy.

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