NOAA Ship Ferrel was built by Zigler Shipyards, Inc. in Jennings, Louisiana. Commissioned in June 4, 1968, the ship’s mission involved conducting coastal and estuarine oceanographic research. Ferrel normally operated off the U.S. Atlantic Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.
Though Ferrel normally worked a six-day week, she had an nine-day endurance, a range of 1,200 nautical miles, and a cruising speed of ten knots. Modified from a basic design for an offshore oil rig supply boat, she had twin screws and a bow thruster to improve maneuverability. Various instruments used in her work were prepared and deployed through the combination of a large open fantail, crane aft, trawl winch, an A-frame and oceanographic winch located midships. Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Ferrel worked on projects along the East and Gulf coasts throughout the year. Ferrel was named after Professor William Ferrel, who developed a tide prediction machine in the 1880s. The ship was decommissioned in 2002 and subsequently sold.