Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory has a new deep-ocean research ship, to be paid for with $11.4 million from the National Science Foundation. The 239-foot Bernier, formerly used for oil exploration, will replace the U.S. Navy research vessel Conrad, which has cruised more than a million miles over 26 years for Lamont-Doherty.
The Bernier was purchased from Petro Canada for $6.5 million. Another $3.5 million will be spent to modify the 5-year-old ship for academic research. Under an agreement between NSF and Columbia University, which operates Lamont-Doherty in Palisades, N.Y., the university will put up the $10 million for acquisition and renovation and will be reimbursed by NSF for that amount plus $1.4 million for servicing debt on the purchase. The cost of building and outfitting a ship like the Bernier for scientific purposes would be $30–40 million, according to NSF.