Roger Long Research Vessel Designs

During the last two decades of my career, I designed the core of the U.S. Atlantic coastal oceanographic fleet before selling my business to JMS Naval Architects of Mystic, CT.

Including a vessel converted from an oil supply boat and two designed while V.P. of Woodin and Marean, Inc., the overlapping ranges of my R/V designs cover the entire east coast from Canada to Mexico.The pictures below are taken from a brochure JMS made up shortly after I sold and became their research vessel consultant.

R/V Gulf Challenger

Just at the darkest time of my career, when a recession and the collapse of the Portland, Maine fishing industry had closed my waterfront office, the University of New Hampshire selected me to design their new research vessel. Her speed changed the conventional wisdom of how coastal oceanography could be conducted and showed that small vessels could handle much larger and heavier gear than previously believed. She is still going strong today and her hull form was the modified as the basis for the three aluminum vessels that followed her.

R/V Fay Slover

Old Dominion University next selected me to design this vessel which was the Gulf Challenger hull simply scaled up to 55 feet so as to accomodate different engines. She was also built of aluminum by Gladding Hearn of Somerset, Massachusetts and operates out of Norfolk, VA.

R/V Connecticut

The next project was a joint effort with Elliot Bay Design Group of Seattle, Washington. I was responsible for the basic conceptual design which was built of steel by Washburn and Doughty in East Boothbay, Maine. I told the university at the time that she was too short for what they wanted and laid her out so that she would be easy to lengthen. Sure enough, she was lengthened just a few years ago which considerably improved her comfort and capability.

R/V Tioga

Having worked for two years at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, it was especially gratifing to be selected to design their new coastal research vessel. Originally, she was to have been a sister ship to the Fay Slover with a few modifications for the WHOI mission. The propulsion consultant I utilized for these quite sophisticated vessels told me that, if I just lengthened the hull by five feet without letting WHOI load up the additional space, there would be some impressive fuel savings. The shipyard told me they could add the length for just $40,000 addional dollars. The institution had recently had a highly touted and visible project suspended because it had gotten too expensive in the panning stages. The word was, "NO MISSION CREEP!". The extra five feet was viewed as being that after I suggested it. In a tense meeting one of the retired admirals that was high in the administration shook his finger in my face and said in a quavering voice, "Roger, I don't mind telling you, you have FAILED this institution!"

I said, "If there was a $40,000 gizmow that could installed on the engines that would give your this improvement in fuel economy, would it be included in this project?" Long silence. I then said, "And, you get five feet more deck space." Thus the R/V Tioga became a 60 foot vessel.

There was once a day that four research vessels of my design were tied up at the Woods Hole docks at the same time. I wish I could have still been in my waterfront office to see that.

R/V Rachel Carson

The last research vessel design of my career was this 81 foot vessel for the University of Maryland. The front half of her hull was the lines of the Tioga which were then extended back straight to accomodate two water jets. These can each direct 20% of their thrust over 360% independently and, together with a bow thruster and a half million dollar computer, made her the world's smallest dynamic positioning vessel vessel at the time and maybe still. She can move in any direction and hold position so precisely that, when taking a second core sample, they have to tell the computer explicitly to move the boat slightly to avoid dropping the core back down in the same hole. She can run over 20 knots in 4 feet of water and no worry about tangling propellers in crab pots. A special part of this project was her being built Hike Metal Products in Canada. I traveled up every two weeks to supervise her construction and made the delivery trip from Wheatley, Ontario on Lake Erie to her home port of Solomons, Maryland.

R/V Weatherbird II

Before all of the above, when I still had my waterfront office in Portland and thought of myself primarily as a designer and consultant for sail training organizations, I designed the conversion of this vessel from an oil supply boat into a research vessel for the Bermuda Biological Station. I designed all of the new superstructure above the main deck, the A-frames and a bow thruster installation which could direct its thrust in any direction. She served the Bio station well for years and got me at least a dozen wonderful visits to the islands. Just at the end of my career, she was sold to the University of South Florida when Bermuda purchased a larger vessel from another Florida institution. There is a very nice video and story about part of her present operations here.

R/V John M. Kingsbury (Gulf Challenger on Mooring)

Before founding Roger Long Marine Architecture, Inc., I was Vice President of Woodin and Marean in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. My first design in that capacity was also the last steel vessel built by Gladding Hearn Shipbuilding that also built three of my four aluminum research vessels. After our first meeting with the lab, I sketched up a boat. My partners said, "You can't show them that. They wanted a lobster boat type!" I persisted, the lab loved it, and this moose of a boat was the result. She is legendary for her comfort in rough water and the lessons I learned formed the basis of my design philosophy for all the vessels that followed.

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