The coastal community of Newport, Oregon played host over the weekend to the public dedication of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) new ship operation facility. Called Marine Operations Center-Pacific, it will serve as homeport for up to four NOAA research and survey ships, while also offering support for NOAA’s Pacific fleet as a whole.
The new state of the art NOAA facility includes 40,852 square feet of office and warehouse space, a 1,300-foot-long pier, and a small boat dock. Its main buildings are built to LEED standards for environmentally sustainable construction.
NOAA’s Pacific fleet operations, which were originally headquartered in the greater Seattle, Washington area, were relocated to Newport after a 20-year lease was signed in August 2009. The movement came as a result of a competitive lease award process NOAA put out a call for.
The Port of Newport, which kept a timeline of the development of NOAA’s new facility, noted the project was completed seven days ahead of schedule and slightly under budget. This comes despite what the port said where challenges related to winter weather, a tight schedule and a tsunami event.
The ships the NOAA facility will host and/or support do a variety of functions depending upon the vessel and its location. This includes collecting what is said to be data essential to protecting marine mammals, coral reefs and historic shipwrecks, managing commercial marine fish stocks, understanding climate processes, and producing nautical charts that help keep mariners safe. The ships also deploy and help maintain buoys that gather oceanographic and weather information and warn of tsunamis.
“This state-of-the-art facility is a vital part of the nation’s research infrastructure, and will allow NOAA to continue providing the highest level of science, service and stewardship to the American people,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, in a statement.