ANACORTES — The next generation of oceanographic research vessels is being built right here in Skagit County.

The U.S. Navy held a keel laying and dedication ceremony for two 238-foot, single-hulled ships on Friday that are being built at the Dakota Creek Industries shipyard in Anacortes.

The new Auxiliary General Purpose Oceanographic Research vessels will replace two prior Navy-owned ships. Both have served the Navy for more than 40 years. They will be able to conduct a wide range of research activities for laboratories involved in oceanographic research, according to a U.S. Navy press release.

Each vessel will operate with a crew of 20 with accommodations for 24 scientists.

Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, chief of naval research, and Susan Avery, president of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, welded their initials into a steel plate, authenticating that the keel of AGOR 27 was “truly and fairly laid.”

Robert Winokur, deputy and technical director, Oceanography, Space and Maritime Domain Awareness and deputy oceanographer of the Navy, and Tony Haymet, director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, then welded their initials on a steel plate, thus dedicating the future keel of AGOR 28. These plates will later be welded into place on the vessels, where they will sail with the vessels throughout their service lives.

The ships will be delivered to the Office of Naval Research and operated under charter-party agreements by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, respectively, allowing scientists to continue with ongoing research efforts.

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