Tarpon Springs’ Duckworth Steel Boats has been picked to build a new, $6 million ship for the Florida Institute of Oceanography.
Money for the multimillion dollar project came in from the Florida Legislature, with a good bit of help from local Rep. Kathleen Peters, as well as the City of St. Petersburg and contributions to FIO from its member institutions.
“It will be an indispensable research platform to aid the faculty, researchers and students across the State of Florida. Additionally, the construction in Pinellas means more jobs here at home, and I’m proud of that,” Peters said.
The family-owned ship builder was picked after months of review by FIO, and will be responsible for building the 78-foot replacement for the R/V Bellows, a “workhorse” that has served FIO and Florida students for 46 years.
Design work for the new ship was completed by Lithia-based Boksa Marine Design in collaboration with the FIO Ship Advisory Committee. The new ship has to walk a fine line between navigating the shallow and fragile Florida shelf environments like the Bellows and bringing in decades of advancements not found on the old ship.
The new ship will measure 78-feet in length with a 24-foot beam – making it both longer and wider than the Bellows – and will be able to carry more advanced and modern scientific equipment, said FIO Executive Director Bill Hogarth.
The construction of the new vessel is expected to take between 12 and 24 months.