An $11 million gift will help Duke University build and operate a research ship for its marine lab in North Carolina.
The donation, from the Chicago Community Trust’s Grainger Family Descendants Fund, provides $5 million for a 68-foot oceangoing research vessel. Another $6 million will go toward the cost of operating the ship. The donation was made to Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.
The vessel will be used by researchers, undergraduates and graduate students in oceanography and marine biology at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort. Equipped with labs, oceanographic equipment and sleeping quarters, the ship will be used for outreach programs to area public schools and can be chartered for special projects by researchers from other universities.
Andrew Read, the marine lab’s director and professor of marine biology, said the new boat can operate in waters up to 100 nautical miles from shore and stay at sea for days. “We’re very excited by the prospect,” he said in the university’s announcement of the gift Thursday.
The marine lab has a small boat for day trips, but its larger vessels were retired in 2013 and 2014. The new ship, which will take about two years to design and build, will have two full-time and one part-time crew.
Scientists’ work on the ship will focus on marine ecology and conservation, biological oceanography and renewable ocean energy development, according to the university.