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Florida Institute of Oceanography and USF System Host the “Keel Laying Ceremony” for a New State-funded Marine Research Vessel

Vessel will support marine science research for more than two dozen institutions and agencies across the state.

FIO Council Chair Wade Jeffrey, Dean of USF's College of Marine Jacqueline Dixon, USF Trustee Stephanie Goforth, State Representative Kathleen Peters, USF System President Judy Genshaft, FIO Council Member and University of North Florida Professor Courtney Hackney, Mr. Duckworth, Mayor of Tarpon Springs Chris Alahouzos, State Senator Jack Latvala, FIO Director William Hogarth. (l-r) Photo by Aimee Blodgett

TAMPA, Fla. (June 1, 2016) – The Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) and the University of South Florida (USF) System hosted a “Keel Laying Ceremony” in Tarpon Springs for a new research vessel that will replace FIO’s soon-to-be-retiring Research Vessel (R/V) Bellows. The new vessel will be instrumental in helping scientists study situations like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill or red tide.

During the 2016 Legislative Session, the Legislature appropriated and Governor Scott approved $3 million in state funding to match $3.3 million raised from FIO member institutions and the City of St. Petersburg to construct this new state of the art marine research vessel for the State of Florida.

The event, which is similar to a groundbreaking ceremony, took place in Tarpon Springs at Duckworth Steel Boats, the shipyard that will construct the new vessel.The ceremony commemorated the beginning of construction for the new 78-foot vessel to replace the nearly 50-year-old R/V Bellows in the FIO’s fleet and offered thanks to the many partners and elected officials involved in securing the funding for the project.

USF System President Judy Genshaft, FIO Director William Hogarth and the employees of Duckworth Steel Boats. Photo by Aimee Blodgett

The City of St. Petersburg, FIO and some of its member institutions, including USF, UWF, FAU, FGCU, UNF, UF, FIT, Eckerd College, FIU, FAMU, Nova Southeastern, UCF and FSU provided funds from institutional sources to match the $3 million from the State of Florida to allow the construction of the new vessel. Construction is expected to take 12-14 months.

Representatives from each contributing institution were in attendance to celebrate the milestone. Speakers included State Senator Jack Latvala, State Representatives Kathleen Peters and Chris Sprowls, Mayor Chris Alahouzos of Tarpon Springs, St. Petersburg City Councilman Karl Nurse and USF System President Judy Genshaft.

Also in attendance was staff from several Florida Congressional Offices that have supported FIO and the USF College of Marine Science for years in the federal budget. These included representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and U.S. Representatives Gus Bilirakis, David Jolly, Tom Rooney and Dennis Ross.

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