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Aboard The Scientific Research Vessel Sally Ride

The scientific research vessel Sally Ride was commissioned Friday in a ceremony on the downtown San Diego waterfront.

The 238-foot-long ship, owned by the Navy and operated by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will also be open for free tours this weekend at the Broadway Pier. UC San Diego students, faculty and staff will be allowed aboard Saturday, and the public will be invited Sunday — from noon to 4 p.m. both days.

Technology has created a lot of different ways to monitor the ocean but scientists said there is no substitute for doing the work in person. The Sally Ride is modern enough and flexible enough that it can do a lot.

"The labs can be totally reconfigured in a few days with your own equipment. We would, say, bring two 20-foot containers, chock full of equipment onto the ship and in two or three days we’d have all of that equipment installed in the lab, move things around, bolted on anywhere we want. The ship is designed to do that,” said Jim Swift, Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The Sally Ride, named after the first American woman in space, is scheduled to embark on its maiden research mission in November when it conducts a study of the California Current. The study, ongoing for 60 years, will document the interplay between marine life and its environment, along with ocean dynamics set into motion by human activities.

The vessel was built in Anacortes, Washington, and delivered to Scripps in September.

Those wishing to tour the Sally Ride this weekend should bring identification and wear flat closed-toe, closed-heel shoes. Boarding and moving about the ship requires the use of stairs. More information from Scripps Institution of Oceanography here.

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