NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — The Endeavor, the University of Rhode Island’s oceanic research vessel that has advanced the understanding of marine ecology for more than four decades, got a going away party of sorts last week.
The ship is heading to Quonset Point to dock there while URI tears down and rebuilds its pier at the Narragansett Bay Campus. The work is taking place to modernize URI’s bay facilities and prepare for the eventual arrival of the National Science Foundation regional class research vessel Narragansett Dawn. Endeavor will remain in service until the Narragansett Dawn is completed.
Thursday’s ceremony brought dozens of researchers, URI officials and the current and former captains of Endeavor to the pier to acknowledge the vessel’s many contributions to research and its illustrious history.
URI Graduate School of Oceanography Dean Paula S. Bontempi said the journeys of many future explorers and leaders in ocean science and engineering began on Endeavor’s decks.
Owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by URI under as part of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System fleet, the 185-foot Endeavor replaced the research vessel Trident in 1976.
The ship is not only a critical piece of ocean research infrastructure, “but a home for many. I give my congratulations to all that have worked on or supported Endeavor in any way over the past 45 years and continue to do so,” Bontempi said. “You have made discoveries in new oceanographic research, pushed the boundaries of academics through student and teacher training, tested amazing new sensors, maybe gotten a little seasick, but contributed to new scholarship that ensures we understand and protect our planet and its resources for future generations.”
Bontempi singled out Endeavor’s key role in the three-year Pegasus program in the early 1980s to measure gulf stream water column profiles of velocity.
“This is a unique data set that is still only a glimpse into the capability of the incredible value and a feat of ocean sampling that has never been repeated,” she said.
A 2004 cruise set up an underwater GPS navigation system to study currents in the Norwegian Sea.
“These studies … revealed much more about the mechanics of ocean motion than previously known,” she said. The Endeavor also has contributed to research that’s aided local fisheries, providing a boost to the economy as well.
Bontempi also recalled one voyage when the Endeavor was sailing in a powerful storm, and the ship’s crew decided it was a good time to clean and re-varnish the wooden quarter-boards on either side of the bridge, much to the annoyance of the researchers huddled in the nearby library.
“The varnish odor spread through the entire ship, and got the entire library sick,” she said. “The scientists were not impressed with the dedication to the work of the crew, but the crew loved what they were doing.”
URI President Marc B. Parlange acknowledged Donald H. DeHayes, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, on his final day at the university. Parlange also thanked current Endeavor master Christopher Armanetti.
“Since I arrived at URI there’s been many opportunities to come to the Bay Campus,” Parlange said. “There’s a great atmosphere on the campus. Your work benefits Rhode Island and the world. You’re tackling the grand challenges from climate change to food security to ocean energy.”
Parlange noted the Endeavor has completed 650 scientific expeditions and logged more than 1 million nautical miles.
“It’s been 45 years and that’s a long time for a ship to look this good,” he said. “It’s a bittersweet day.”
DeHayes said Endeavor also served as an ambassador for world-class scientific research for 45 years. He noted that the URI Graduate School of Oceanography today generates about $50 million annually in external research funding, which also supports Rhode Island’s economy.
“That would not happen without these world class scientists and this vessel,” he said.
State Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee, (D-Narragansett, South Kingstown), talked about the 2005 Rhode Island Endeavor Program, which gives educators and students access to the vessel for 15 days at sea per year, and the Teacher at Sea Program.
“This invaluable state program will continue to be an investment in Rhode Island’s future,” she said.
Armanetti, master of the Endeavor, said it’s a ship people are proud to live and work on, and call home.
“The entire career of Endeavor is recorded in the logbooks. You can sit there for days on end about every port she’s ever been to,” he said. “What you can’t read about in the logs are the stories behind the official records. The time the prince of Monaco sent beverages down to the dock for the crew. The time the mates joined the yacht club at Bermuda. A Key West palm tree that lived onboard as a mascot for over two years. It spent more time in the North Atlantic than any palm tree I ever knew.”
The ceremony’s conclusion was fitting, with Bontempi giving former longtime Endeavor master Rhett McMunn a plaque for his years of service.
“Wow,” McMunn said, thanking several people connected with the Endeavor over the years. “It obviously wouldn’t happen without the crew and the shore support Endeavor has always had, right from the top. Quite a few have been here for years and we continue to do the job as a team.”