WHOI Says So Long to R/V Knorr

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Research Vessel (R/V) Knorr is retiring from service.

Knorr conducted its last Long Core mission in November 2014. After hundreds of science expeditions, and port stops in more than 40 countries, the ship returned to the Woods Hole dock December 3.

The ship’s fate is still unknown. Though the Navy has retired it from service in the United States, Knorr has good years left. The ship will be replaced in 2015 with a new ship named after one of Knorr’s contemporary explorers, Neil Armstrong.

Knorr’s crew will transfer their experience and knowledge to Armstrong, getting it ready to serve science and continue in the sea-going tradition long-upheld by Knorr and the other ships in the WHOI fleet.

When Knorr retires at the end of 2014, it will have traveled more than 1.35 million miles—a distance equivalent to more than two round trips to the moon. Its experienced and dedicated crew earned a reputation for safely and effectively conducting research in difficult conditions. Together, Knorr and its crew expanded the limits of our understanding of our planet.

Knorr arrived in Woods Hole in April 1970, in time to mark the Institution’s 40th birthday. Some at the Institution had wanted to name the new vessel Oceanus, in honor of the Greek god of the seas. Instead, the Navy chose to commemorate Ernest Knorr, the cartographer who from 1860 to 1885 led the Navy’s first systematic effort to chart and survey the ocean. Nearly 100 years later, the ship served as the backdrop for a new generation of oceanographers, as the first class of the new MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography graduated that June on the WHOI dock.

Knorr was the 15th in this series of ships designed and owned by the Navy and represented the best in technology of that time. At 244 feet, the ship was bigger than its predecessors, with an innovative arrangement that allowed scientists more lab and deck space.