The R/V Seward Johnson, namesake of HARBOR BRANCH founder J. Seward Johnson, Sr., is a 204 ft Oceanographic and Submersible-Support Research Vessel. Built in 1984, commissioned in 1985 and extensively rebuilt and stretched in 1994, the ship now displaces 1,282 tons. A 6,000 nautical mile range and a speed of 13 knots is delivered by two 850 hp engines. The vessel is capable of traveling and working in any of the world's oceans, while accommodating up to 40 people (29 investigators, sub crew, or technicians; 11 ship’s crew).

The R/V Seward Johnson is operated by experienced personnel, expert in surface oceanographic procedures and submersible vehicle launch and recovery, which are supported by in-house ocean engineers. The R/V Seward Johnson is part of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS).

Science and Research Support

Typical applications undertaken by the vessel include submersible/ROV support, large towed systems support, deployment and retrieval of moored devices, surface oceanographic/hydrographic applications, and diving support. The ship also has a CTD with a dedicated crew of technicians that operate this and other standard oceanographic instrumentation.

The R/V Seward Johnson is primarily a submersible tender designed to support manned sub operations, as well as ROV operations. Specifically, occasionally the Clelia, and most often the Johnson-Sea-Link (JSL) submersibles are operated from this platform. Researchers choose which sub to use based on the depth of their planned dives. The Clelia is suited for shallow dives (1,000 ft maximum), and the JSL is capable of deeper dives (3,000 ft maximum). An 18-ton, A-frame crane system mounted on the stern of the ship launches and retrieves these submersibles.

Other deck equipment includes:
• A-frame on side, with forward (1.5 tons), center (10 tons), and after (5 tons) lift points
• Appleton crane, 10 ton capacity @ 38 foot outreach
• Appleton lightweight crane 3.5 ton capacity with 21 ft. outreach, installed if required
• 2 capstans at stern
• New England Trawler anchor windlass 2 anchors and 2 rope heads at bow
• Various trawl, hydrographic, conductor, CTD and constant tension tow winches available
• Various small boats available

The ship also includes a briefing room outfitted with a technical and science library, a conference table, video recorders, monitor, and photo lab.

Integrated Computer Network

The R/V Seward Johnson navigates using an integrated mission profiler/navigation system and employs a global positioning system for the ship, submersibles and ROVs. It also relies on a variety of compasses, radar and satellite system navigation tools. Most data and communications are transmitted via telephone, fax, e-mail, and a satellite system known as SeaNet’s Inmarsat (B High-Speed Data) link.

All labs and staterooms are networked through Windows NT servers. Worldwide email and internet connectivity is available as well.

© 2008-2009, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute