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Utility Navigation

Marine Operations

About NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown is a global-class oceanographic and atmospheric research platform. With its highly advanced instruments and sensors, the ship travels worldwide supporting scientific studies to increase our understanding of climate and the ocean.

Primarily deployed in support of NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, the ship supports scientific studies to increase our understanding of the relationship between the world's oceans and climate. The ship’s combined atmospheric and oceanographic sampling capability allows scientists to observe dynamics at sea, and to determine how those dynamics affect climate and global weather patterns. At 274 ft., Ronald H. Brown is largest vessel in the NOAA fleet.

Five primary laboratories provide nearly 4,000 square feet of dedicated mission space, with additional space on deck to support up to nine laboratory vans.

The ship is equipped with a suite of scientific sensors, including a multibeam echo sounder, sub-bottom profiler, acoustic Doppler current profiler, acoustic positioning system and Doppler radar.

Ronald H. Brown’s maneuvering capabilities, provided by a dynamic positioning system, enhance the ship’s ability to hold its position in the water, within a 300-foot radius, in seas up to 11 feet, with wind speed of 27 knots and a 2-knot current. This capability is critical when deploying and recovering deep-sea moorings, supporting remotely operated vehicles, and deploying the sensors necessary for successful research.

The ship's projects are often conducted in partnership with other agencies. For instance, in early 2015, Ronald H. Brown supported a multi-agency two-month study to better understand the West Coast drought, focusing on how the region’s rain and snow are impacted by “atmospheric rivers” (intense moisture-bearing winter storms) and airborne particles like dust and pollution. In 2009, the ship was part of a two-month investigation of the physical mechanisms that keep the ocean so cold in a large Pacific region. The ship joined aircraft from the U.S. and Britain, as well as a Peruvian research vessel, in the study off the coast of Peru.

Homeported in Charleston, South Carolina, and commissioned in 1997, the ship is named to honor the late Ronald H. Brown, the first African American to serve as Secretary of Commerce. Brown made it his mission to generate jobs and provide opportunities for ordinary Americans – and he was an ardent supporter of the NOAA fleet. He was killed in a plane crash on April 3, 1996, while on a trade mission to Bosnia.


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Reviewed: April 17, 2018. Contact us with page issues.

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