Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Banded Sea Star About the Sanctuary

Marine Operations

Gray's Reef operates the 36-foot R/V Sam Gray, and the 41-foot catamaran the R/V Joe Feguson, one of the newest vessels in the sanctuary fleet.

Both vessels are used for research and monitoring, dive operations, education and outreach, as well as in support of a variety of activities for our research and academic partners.

The sanctuary logged a total of 64 boat days at sea in 2008, including 12 days on the Sam Gray dedicated to support of the Battle of the Atlantic 2008 Expedition .

Gray's Reef vessels logged 80 boat days at sea between January 1 and September 30, 2009, including 18 days on the R/V Joe Ferguson and R/V Sam Gray dedicated to support of the Battle of the Atlantic 2009 Expedition .

R/V Sam Gray

R/V Sam Gray

The R/V Sam Gray was obtained by GRNMS in December 2004. She was constructed at Silver Ships Inc. in Alabama. The vessel's primary mission is to support diving operations in the Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. It typically performs these missions in conjunction with the Research Vessel (R/V) Joe Ferguson, a 41-foot catamaran. The operating area of the vessel is generally within 20 nautical miles of land and south of 32°N latitude. The vessel is also trailerable, making it ideal for multiple launch sites.

The vessel is named after Milton "Sam" Gray, a biologist who conducted early research at Gray's Reef.

R/V Joe Ferguson

R/V Joe Ferguson

The R/V Joe Ferguson was obtained by Gray's Reef in July 2008. She was constructed at the Seemann Composites Inc. boat-building facility in Gulfport, MS. It is one of 2 prototypes designed specifically for research within NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. The size and capacity of this new class of small boats will allow a modest crew to overnight aboard the vessel, and will provide safe working platform for research, rescue, training and educational operations for up to 10 people; and will greatly enhance the geographic and technological range of site operations.

The Ferguson was named for Joe Ferguson, director of the National Geographic Society Education and Outreach Program, who was killed on September 11, 2001 when the plane carrying him and three teacher-student pairs on an educational trip to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary struck the Pentagon on 9/11. The team was en route to participate in a Sustainable Seas Expedition, of which Gray's Reef was a part.

The R/V Joe Ferguson and Gray's Reef vessel operations staff partnered with the Canadian Air Force for training off the Georgia coast. Click here to view video filmed during the exercises.

Boats are essential to support the on-water mission requirements of the ONMS. These platforms are utilized to provide support for a range of activities, including, research, education, enforcement, monitoring, resource protection, technology testing, and marine archaeology, among others.

To learn more about the National Marine Sanctuary small boat program click here .

Sea Anemone

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