NOAA Ship Nancy Foster ship supports fish habitat and populations studies, seafloor mapping surveys, physical and chemical oceanography studies, and maritime heritage surveys.
The 187-ft. vessel uses single beam and multibeam echo sounders, as well as an echo sounder system for fish stock assessment. Nancy Foster also carries a thermosalinograph and other technologies that allow them to sample water and sediment. The ship's dynamic positioning technology allows for more exact deployment of autonomous underwater vehicles and remotely operated vehicles.
Nancy Foster's deck equipment gives the ship the capability to tow nets, service NOAA’s buoys, and conduct small boat operations. The ship carries four different small boats, ranging from 17-foot rigid hull inflatable boats to a 23-foot aluminum boat for diving and oceanographic operations in shallow waters.
The ship is equipped with wet and dry laboratories, as well as computers for data acquisition and analysis.
Nancy Foster is homeported in Charleston, South Carolina, and focuses primarily on U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and the Caribbean Sea. The ship was originally built as a U.S. Navy yard torpedo test vessel. In 2001, the Navy transferred the ship to NOAA, which converted the ship into a research vessel. The ship was commissioned in the NOAA fleet in 2004.
The ship was named for Dr. Nancy Foster, a pioneer for coastal stewardship who led several NOAA programs to explore, map, protect, and sustainably develop our nation's coastal and fishery resources.