After a 44 year mission that saw it sailing almost 1.4 million miles – and crossing the equator 43 times – the R/V Knorr, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s venerable research ship, has been retired with full honors.
The Knorr’s final fate remains unknown. However, few think that the venerable mistress of the seas will be scrapped – especially with the amount of cutting-edge navigational equipment stuffed into the 279-foot hull.Not Credited
The ship’s final berthing occurred on Wednesday, where it was greeted by former crew and their families. Kent Sheasley, captain of the ship for its final voyage, saluted the gathered crowd by blasting the Knorr’s powerful foghorn and demonstrating the famous agility of the vessel, spinning it 180 degrees as it coasted into port. The old girl was provided with a drone escort and a welcoming round of cannon fire once it finally berthed; Captain Sheasley, who had piloted the Knorr through hurricanes and 70 foot seas both fearlessly and successfully, said that with the ship’s final berthing an incredible era had come to a close.
The ship, which launched in August of 1698,was named for Ernest R. Knorr, a Navy cartographer from the nineteenth century who led the first systematic effort to chart the oceans of the world. Sadly, between shifting governmental priorities and federal budget cuts, Woods Hole doesn’t have the requisite funds to continue operating the storied vessel. Now, the Knorr joins the R/V Melville, her sister ship, in retirement – leaving only seven ships in the United States’ academic exploratory research fleet that can remain at sea for long periods of time in nearly any weather conditions.
The Knorr’s final fate remains unknown. However, few think that the venerable mistress of the seas will be scrapped – especially with the amount of cutting-edge navigational equipment stuffed into the 279-foot hull. The US Navy owned ship could very well be gifted to a foreign country for its own research endeavors, which would ensure that the Knorr’s legacy lives on for just that much longer.
At the end of Wednesday’s final berthing ceremony, the 55-member crew disembarked the Knorr from the last time. Left behind were a number of signs these scientists and researchers had affixed to the deck with messages that showcased the deep emotional impact of losing the ship. Captain Sheasley echoed the sentiment, saying that he trusted the Knorr – and that she will be missed.
This archive content was originally published December 6, 2014 (www.betawired.com)