NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker is the fifth in a series of Oscar Dyson-class fisheries survey vessels and one of the most technologically advanced fisheries vessels in the world. The ship’s primary objective is to support fish, marine mammal, seabird and turtle surveys off the U.S. West Coast and in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
Like the other fisheries survey vessels in its class, Reuben Lasker has a low sound signature to reduce reactions of fish to the presence of the ship and provides for a low signal-to-noise ratio for acoustic sensors. This allows scientists to study fish populations and collect oceanographic data with fewer effects on fish and marine mammal behavior. The multi-frequency scientific sonars provide the ability to conduct acoustic surveys that can distinguish fish types, estimate biomass, determine fish school shapes, and provide data on sea floor topography.
Reuben Lasker is also equipped with oceanographic sampling and measurement systems, instrumented trawls, longlines, and plankton nets for direct sampling. The ship has a dynamic positioning system to steer along a pre-determined trackline and to accurately hold the ship in a fixed position. The ship is also equipped with meteorological data collection systems and has extensive wet and dry labs to provide maximum utilization of every hour at sea.
Funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Reuben Lasker was designed to meet the National Marine Fisheries Service's specific data collection requirements. The ship mainly supports the Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) and Northwest Fisheries Science Center. The science centers conduct sea-going research in support of management and conservation of living marine resources, including fish, marine mammals and marine turtles.
Built in Wisconsin by Marinette Marine Corporation and commissioned in 2014, the ship is named after Dr. Reuben Lasker (1929-1988), who served as the director of SWFSC's Coastal Fisheries Division and as adjunct professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, U.C. San Diego. Dr. Lasker built a renowned research group that focused on the recruitment of young fish to the adult population — a topic with implications for fisheries management throughout the world. Reuben Lasker is homeported in San Diego, California.