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Nancy Foster

NOAA Ship Nancy Foster underway

Credit: NOAA Ensign Conor Maginn


Type of Ship: Oceanographic
Hull Number: R352
Length: 186.50 ft
Range: 3500 nautical miles
Endurance: 15 days
Speed: 10.50 knots
Additional Specs: SCSShore

Contact Info

Commanding Officer: CDR Joseph Carrier

Charleston, SC
United States

Homeport Phone Number: 843-991-6326
Ship's Email Address:

About the ship

NOAA Ship Nancy Foster was built by McDermott Inc. in Amelia, Louisiana. The ship was commissioned on May 10, 2004 and is currently homeported in Charleston, South Carolina. Nancy Foster is one of the most operationally diverse platforms in the NOAA fleet. The ship supports fish habitat and population studies, seafloor mapping surveys, oceanographic studies, and maritime heritage surveys along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and the Caribbean Sea.

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--a tool that measures water temperature and salinity-- and other technologies that allow scientists 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 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 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.