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Q&A about the new ship's first journey

5:04 p.m., Jan. 11, 2006--Upon the arrival of the University of Delaware’s new Research Vessel Hugh R. Sharp in Lewes, Capt. William Byam and Matthew Hawkins, director of marine operations in the College of Marine Studies, answered questions about the ship’s first journey.

Q: How long have you been a ship captain, and what education and training are required to pilot a vessel of this kind and size?

Byam: “Since I was knee-high to a barnacle. Seriously, I’ve worked on the water most of my life, but I won’t say how long that’s been.”

Q: How does it feel to pilot this beautiful new ship? How was the vessel's maiden voyage in the Atlantic Ocean, from Florida to Delaware?

Byam: “Fantastic, and a bit nerve-racking at the same time. The Atlantic suits the Sharp well. She feels right at home here. We were blessed with fantastic weather for January for the trip around Cape Hatteras.”

Q: How does the R/V Hugh R. Sharp handle compared to other vessels you've operated?

Byam: “Completely different. With Z-drives, you have to forget everything you know about driving a conventional boat. That being said, once you figure out the tricks, they are so maneuverable that you will never go back.”

Q: What impresses you the most about the new ship?

Byam: “How quiet and smooth she is. Meeting the International Convention for Exploration of the Seas underwater radiated noise requirements has such a profound effect on airborne noise. There is no perception of movement inside the vessel, even when steaming at full speed. It takes some getting used to.”

Q: What new capabilities and features does the R/V Hugh R. Sharp offer to marine scientists?

Hawkins: “More deck and lab space, including the ability to carry two portable lab vans. Also, better accommodations, more advanced load-handling systems and, of course, low underwater radiated noise.”

Q. What kinds of scientific missions are scheduled for the R/V Hugh R. Sharp this year?

Hawkins: “Being a general purpose ship, we have the usual cast of characters, everything from biological, chemical and physical oceanography to mooring deployments and acoustic research. The National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research are providing the bulk of the funding support for the 200 days we expect to spend at sea this year. We will be one of the busiest vessels in the academic fleet.”

Q: What are the ship's vital statistics?

Hawkins: "The ship is 146 feet in overall length, and 135 feet at the waterline. The beam is 32 feet at the widest point and it draws 9 feet of water. Displacement tonnage is 598, fully loaded. It can cruise at 11-12 knots and can stay at sea for about 18 days, depending on operations. The propulsion plant is diesel-electric with twin Z-drives, bow thruster and dynamic positioning. Stack emissions are low. There are 22 permanent berths, 14 of which are for scientists."

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