R/V Gulf Challenger History
Launched in 1993, Gulf Challenger was designed by Roger Long Marine Architecture, Inc. of Cape Elizabeth, Maine and was built by Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding in Somerset, Massachusetts. With a cruising speed of 18 knots, she is the fastest and most capable research vessel of this size operating in the area, giving researchers more time to spend on station and less time in transit, resulting in significant savings in time and operational costs.
In the spring of 2011 the University pursued a major mechanical upgrade for the Gulf Challenger at Billings Diesel & Marine. With help from the EPA's National Clean Diesel Campaign our older 2 cycle engines were replaced with twin 660 HP C-12 ACERT Caterpillars. The vessel is now EPA Tier 2 compliant. As before, her twin engine design make the vessel highly maneuverable. A 5 foot draft and 19-foot vertical clearance allow work in many areas inaccessible to larger vessels. The flexible layout of Gulf Challenger’s deck area, spacious pilothouse, and below-decks laboratory can accommodate a variety of endeavors and a full range of equipment. The Challenger has the capability to install an ADCP (or other customer supplied equipment) in a transducer well in the lab. A 2500-watt inverter allows operation in silent mode for hydrophone work. Even with engines running, noise levels are low, creating a suitable environment for lectures and demonstrations. A U.S. Coast Guard inspected vessel under subchapter T, she is certified to carry 39 passengers on day trips and 7 passengers on overnight cruises. Steps leading to a transom well and a water level swim platform facilitate diving operations. A heated cabin and fresh water shower further add to diver safety and comfort. With a 6,000 lb. Hydraulic A-frame, two hydraulic winches, one (removable) with 190 meters of coaxial conducting cable and the other (permanently installed) with 600 meters of Plasma braid, and two 750-lb. Capacity davits, the Gulf Challenger is equipped to deploy a wide variety of scientific equipment.