US Navy commissions research vessel ‘Sally Ride’

The U.S. Navy’s auxiliary general purpose oceanographic research vessel, R/V Sally Ride (AGOR 28), was commissioned during an October 28 ceremony at the Broadway Pier Port Pavilion in San Diego.

The ship was named in honor of the late Sally Ride, who was selected for NASA’s astronaut corps in 1978, became the first American woman in space aboard Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983, and later joined the faculty of the University of California, San Diego as a professor of physics.

Sally Ride is based on a single-hull commercial design; it measures approximately 238 feet long and incorporates the latest technologies, including high-efficiency diesel engines, emissions controls for stack gasses, and new information technology tools both for monitoring shipboard systems and for communicating with the world.

Oceanographic research vessels provide scientists with the tools and capabilities to support ongoing research across the globe, gaining a better understanding of the world’s oceans, atmosphere, and solid earth to solve some of the planet’s most pressing challenges.

The ship will be operated by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography under a charter party agreement with the Office of Naval Research. The vessel has accommodations for 24 scientists and will operate with a crew of 20 personnel.

Sally Ride takes the place of recently retired R/V Melville, which Scripps operated from 1969 to 2014. Melville sailed over 1.5 million miles, mapped the deepest spot on the planet and made the first observations of deep-ocean volcanic eruptions.

Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy, Rear Adm. Timothy Gallaudet, attended the day’s festivities.

“As a Scripps graduate, career oceanographer and naval officer, I cannot think of a more exciting event than this commissioning,” said Gallaudet. “Scripps is obtaining a capital asset; this vessel will advance our understanding of the oceans for decades, and we need this understanding in order to protect our country, our interests, and our allies.”

“Sally Ride is a role model to all of us,” said Congresswoman Susan Davis. “Her impact on women, girls, and generations of students is far-reaching.”

Ride was an advocate for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) outreach, inspiring and encouraging young people to pursue education and careers in the aforementioned fields.

This is the second ship of its class built by Dakota Creek Industries. The shipbuilder also constructed R/V Neil Armstrong (AGOR 27), delivered to the Navy in September 2015.