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Future plans for USAP vessel support by the ARSV Laurence M. Gould

Large orange ship tied up next to a dock

The R/V Laurence M. Gould docked at Palmer Station pier, Antarctica.

February 2, 2023

The ARSV Laurence M. Gould (LMG) has been successfully supporting the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) in the Southern Ocean since 1997. Its primary mission is to support marine research, resupply USAP research stations, and transport researchers and staff between Palmer Station and South American ports. The vessel was built by, and has continuously operated under a long-term charter with, Edison-Chouest Offshore.

The LMG vessel charter will expire in June 2024. The NSF Office of Polar Programs (OPP) is currently exploring several opportunities to continue supporting science along the Antarctic Peninsula and providing logistics support to Palmer Station. Possible options include extending the current charter, partnering with other research vessel operators including those of the U.S. Academic Research Fleet and foreign Antarctic Programs, and evaluating the capabilities of commercial operators to provide logistics support.

Plans for the LMG are part of a larger NSF vessel recapitalization effort for Antarctica. This effort has relied on community input gathered as part of Polar Research Vessel (PRV) and Antarctic Research Vessel (ARV) planning activities over the past decade. More information about this effort will be shared with the community in the coming months on the OPP Announcements page.

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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