Discoverer will have the ability to deploy remotely operated vehicles to explore the ocean. (Photo: NOAA)

Newport has been chosen as the future homeport for a new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) oceanographic research vessel being built for the agency. 

NOAA wrote in an announcement on Friday that Discoverer will be a state-of-the-art ship that operates around the nation and the world to study and explore the ocean.

Discoverer will be one of the world’s most advanced research vessels,” said Rear Adm. Nancy Hann, deputy director for operations for NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) and deputy director of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps said in a statement. “From its Rhode Island homeport, this ship will shed new light on unexplored areas of the ocean with the promise of bringing us many exciting discoveries.”

When commissioned, NOAA says that Discoverer will replace the 32-year-old Newport-based NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer as the only federal vessel dedicated to ocean exploration. The new ship will join NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow, a fisheries survey vessel also based in Newport at a NOAA marine support facility soon to be built at Naval Station Newport.

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, seen here during a mission in the Gulf of Mexico, will be replaced by Discoverer, a new ship being built for NOAA. (NOAA)

Discoverer will also support the many strong partnerships that NOAA has in Rhode Island and around the nation that promote ocean exploration, research and the development of new technologies, NOAA.

The timeline for Discoverer’s arrival will depend on construction progress on the new ship. The retirement date of Okeanos Explorer will be based on that aging ship’s condition when Discoverer comes online, NOAA writes.

The other new ship being built for NOAA, Oceanographer, will be homeported in Honolulu, as previously announced. The U.S. Navy awarded a contract on Dec. 31, 2020, to Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors LLC of Houma, Louisiana, for the detailed design and construction of this new class of NOAA vessels. The new ships will operate with a crew of 20 and will accommodate up to 28 scientists.

The NOAA ship fleet is operated, managed, and maintained by OMAO. NOAA ships are operated by NOAA Corps officers and civilian professional mariners.