Oregon State University

R/V Oceanus

Oceanus Schedule Webcam Cruise Planning Manual

The research vessel (R/V) Oceanus is owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by Oregon State University. Oceanus was transferred to OSU from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in March 2012 to replace its sister ship, R/V Wecoma.

More about the transfer of Oceanus to Oregon State.

Oceanus is a mid-sized research vessel designed for expeditions lasting two to four weeks. It was delivered to Woods Hole in November 1975, and its first scientific voyage was made in April 1976. In 1994, the ship underwent a major mid-life refit, which included the construction of a new deck house and new pilot house, along with increases in laboratory space and accommodations for scientists. Oceanus accommodates a crew of 12 and a scientific party of 13 for up to 30 days at sea.

The ship was designed by John W. Gilbert Associates of Boston and constructed by Peterson Builders of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Its name is drawn from Greek mythology. The Titan Oceanus, father of the river gods and sea nymphs, was represented as a great stream of water encircling the Earth. Oceanus was believed to be the source of all bodies of water.

Outfitted with three winches and a crane, Oceanus is often used for deploying oceanographic buoys and moorings and for hydrographic surveys, though it is capable of all types of chemical, biological, and geological studies. Oceanus spent most of its time working in the North Atlantic, with occasional trips to the Mediterranean, South Atlantic, and Caribbean.


Length:177 feet (54 m)
Draft:17.5 feet (5.3 m)
Displacement:960 LT
Range:7,000 NM
Laboratories:1,185 sq. feet
Speed:11.0 knots cruising
Endurance:30 days
Fuel Capacity:48,000 gallons
Mid-Life Overhaul:1994
Beam:33 feet (10 m)
Gross Tons:260.68 T
Deck Area:2,150 sq. feet
Complement:Crew - 12
Scientists - 13
Technicians - 1
Main Engine:One EMD diesel engine, 3,000 SHP
Bow Thruster:White Gill 350 HP trainable
Ship Service Generators:Two 300 KW 480 VAC
3-phase, 60 hertz
Propeller:Single screw, controllable pitch,
Kort steering nozzle
Winches:Trawl - 30,000\' 9/16" wire, 0.68" fiber optic
Hydro - 33,000\' 3-cond. EM or 1/4" wire
Heavy Equipment:Crane - hydraulic, 40,000 lb. capacity
Stern A-frame
Midships hydro boom
Sewage System:Two holding tanks; 12,000 gallon capacity
Ownership:Title held by NSF; operated under charter party contract
Other Features:Removable bulwarks, air conditioning, inflatable boat, space for three 20 ft. vans

Layout and Berthing Diagrams

General Science Spaces

Laboratory and Sciences Spaces

Main Lab, located on main deck, 595 sq. ft.

Main Lab (Photo by John Dyke, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

This is the principal internal general purpose science working space on the ship. It is designed to be reconfigured as necessary to meet the specific requirements of each scientific party joining the ship. It is centrally located on the port side Main Deck. The area is approximately 800 sq. ft. with the maximum dimensions of 50 feet fore and aft and 18 feet athwartship. The configuration of the space allows for natural compartmenting of science activities so programs can work without mutual interference. Winch control stations, real time data displays, depth recorders, ACDP and ample provisions for installing science-provided electronics are located in the after end of the lab. The forward portion provides the space for setting up analytical equipment and has sinks and water connections. There is direct access to the Wet Lab (located on the same deck), the Top Lab (one deck up), and to the Main Deck working areas. There is a small vestibule area at the after end of the lab which acts as a transition zone between the environmentally controlled laboratory space and the weather deck. An overhead hatch, centrally located in the laboratory, permits heavy and bulky equipment to be loaded into the space using the ship's crane.

Wet Lab, located on main deck, 240 sq. ft.

Wet Lab (Photo by Dina Pandya, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

This is a small laboratory space located at the forward starboard end of the Main Deck. It is designed specifically as a space for drawing water samples, the maintenance of water sampling equipment, the preparation of instrumentation and for wet/dirty activities in general. A large double door located on the after end of the lab opens onto the weather deck area under the hydrographic boom. Instruments, particularly CTD/rosette systems, can be moved between the lab and the launch area so that work on the instruments can be performed out of the weather. A cart/track system is available to facilitate safe handling of heavy instrument systems. Work benches, electrical power, sinks, fresh and salt water connections and communications are installed. An interior watertight door provides access to the forward end of the Main Lab.

Top Lab, located on 01 deck, 3500 sq. ft.

Top Lab

This laboratory space is located on the Upper (01) Deck. It is configured with a small bench/work area for the SSSG Marine Technician. Spare parts cabinets for the Ethernet hub electronics and a UPS unit are located in an electronics rack adjacent to the technician's work area. An isolated, partially enclosed area is provided for scientists to set up personal computers. Desk space for two persons, Ethernet connections, UPS power supply, and communications are located here. There is direct access to the Main Lab (one deck below) and to the Bridge (one deck above). Watertight doors open directly onto the 01 weather deck.

Laboratories and science spaces in general are configured to allow efficient installation of scientific equipment with a minimum of effort on the part of scientists and technicians. Benches, shelving, electrical power, water, communications, tie-downs and storage are provided.

Scientific Equipment

Winches and Wire

Oceanus is outfitted with two permanently installed oceanographic winches used to lower scientific instrumentation over the side. The winches are configured to operate UNOLS standard hydrographic wire, 3-conductor electro-mechanical cable, trawl wire and fiber optic cable.

Hydro/CTD Winches
The vessel is outfitted with two winches which serve both hydrographic and E/M applications.
Model:Markey DESH-5Markey COM-15
Power:Electric, 480V, 60 HPElectric, 15 HP
Rated Line Pull:10,954 lbs. bare drum
5,000 lbs. full drum
Average Working Speed:60-75 m/min depending on load 
Wire capacity:10,000 m of .322" E-M cable
9,200 m of 1/4" wire rope
5,000 m of .322" E-M cable

This DESH-5 winch has interchangeable drums that allow changing of cable type without a spooling operation. Drum changes take several hours using the ship's crane. Except in emergency situations this task is done in port.

Both 1/4" hydrowire and .322" conducting cables are currently available for use on the Markey DESH-5 winch.

The winches are located on the 01 Deck. An extendable hydrographic boom mounted at the 02 Deck level amidships serves as the overboarding point. The boom is sited so that instruments can be launched over the starboard side at the point of least vessel motion, with protection from wind and boarding seas, and with direct access to the Wet Laboratory. Instruments can be launched through a gate in the bulwark rail, but are usually lifted over the bulwark. The winches (and hydro boom) are operated by a crew member from a station on the 01 Deck with a clear view of the winch, the main deck work area and over the side.

The cable is led directly from the winch to a fairlead sheave mounted at the base of the boom and then directly to the head block mounted at the end of the boom. Both sheaves have a tread diameter of 19". In service the cable plumbs to a point 6-7 feet outboard of the rail. When fully retracted, the boom plumbs the cable 4 feet inboard of the rail and 8 feet aft of the Wet Lab doors. The head block has an unobstructed vertical clearance to the Main Deck of 19.5 feet.

Sensors for the cable monitoring system are mounted in the fairlead sheave. Cable parameters of line count, line speed and tension are monitored by a Metrox digital system and displayed in the Main Laboratory, at the winch control station and on the bridge. Voice "squawk box" communication between laboratories, winch and the bridge is provided with hand sets or head sets.

The winches are capable of computer-controlled operation which allows automation via input signals from scientific sensors. Persons desiring this feature should contact Ship Operations well in advance of the cruise to assure proper interfacing.

Winch drums holding .322" E-M cable are equipped with slip ring assemblies for transmission of electrical signals from rotating drums.

Trawl Winch
A traction-type, heavy duty winch system serving as the ship's traditional trawl winch is located below decks aft in a dedicated space.
Model:Dynacon Inc. Hydraulic Traction Winch
Power:Electric, AC-SCR/DC, 150 HP
Rated Line Pull:50,000 lbs. static
42,000 lbs. continuous @ speed range: 0-30 m/min
10,000 lbs. continuous @ speed range: 0-122 m/min
Average Working Speed:60 m/min @ 20,000 lbs.
Wire capacity:9,200 meters of 9/16" wire rope
9,200 meters of 0.68" fiber optic cable
Min. Cable Bend Diameter:56 inches

This winch is designed to handle UNOLS standard 9/16", 3x19 trawl wire rope and 0.68"fiber optical tow cable. Cable storage drums are interchangeable allowing the change of cable type without the need for a spooling operation. Drum changes take several hours using the ship's crane and are done only in port.

The traction winch system is composed of five basic components: the traction head pulling unit, the level-wind/guide device, the storage drum assembly, the electrical controller/hydraulic pump unit and the fairlead sheave assembly. All units except the fairlead sheave are located below decks. The storage drum is located under a deck hatch to facilitate drum changes. All instruments and attachments must be removed from the wire prior to passing through the sheave train.

In operation, the cable/wire is led from the storage drum (where it is stowed under low tension) to the level-wind/guide located immediately adjacent to the drum. It is then led directly to the traction head assembly which is the main load bearing and pulling unit. Five wraps are taken on the dual-headed traction unit to transition from the low storage tension to the high working load. The cable is then led directly up to the fairlead sheave located on the 01 Deck aft of the ship's crane. The fairlead sheave is a universal flagging unit which permits the cable to be led to any point on the weather deck. Typically the cable is led directly aft to the ship's stern "A" frame. The ship's crane may also be used as an overboarding support point; this requires an additional boom crutch, available on request.

Sensors for the cable monitoring system are mounted in the fairlead sheave. Cable parameters line count, line speed and tension are monitored by a dedicated digital system and displayed in the Main Laboratory, at the winch control station and on the bridge. Voice "squawk box" communication between laboratories, winch control and the bridge is provided. A closed-circuit TV system monitors the winch with displays at the control station and on the bridge.

The winch is operated by a crew member and can be controlled from two stations. When the instrument is deployed and clear of the ship, control is switched to a station located in the after end of the Main Laboratory adjacent to depth recorders and other scientific display units and with a clear view of the main deck work area. This allows the winch operator to be physically integrated into the team running the station. The winch can also be controlled locally in the winch room.

Oceanographic Cables

Four standard categories of oceanographic cables (trawl, electro-mechanical/CTD, hydrographic and coaxial) can be made available. The significant characteristics of each wire are given in the following table.

 TrawlHydroE-M/CTDFiber Optic
Length9,152 m9,152 m10,000 m6,000 m
Construction3 x 19 galv.3 x 19 galv.2 armor galv.3 armor galv.
Manuf. ID9/16" AA1/4" AA0159202351
R.B.S.32,500 lbs.6,750 lbs.11,600 lbs.46,000 lbs.
Yield24,375 lbs.5,063 lbs.5,000 lbs.---
2% Yield28,600 lbs.5,900 lbs.------
S.W.L.14,300 lbs.2,950 lbs.4,500 lbs.14,000 lbs.
Wet Wt.1,370 lbs./km284 lbs./km462 lbs./km2,006 lbs./km
Dry Wt.1,614 lbs./km327 lbs./km571 lbs./km2,465 lbs./km
Min. Sheave Dia.21"12"12"48"
DC Resistance @ 20 deg------3 cond., 9.4 ohm/1,000\'---

Backup or spare reels exist for each type of oceanographic cable through the UNOLS cable pool system. In general, because of weight and space limitations spare cables are not carried aboard Oceanus. On extended voyages, a backup reel for the most critical oceanographic cable can be carried aboard if requested and available.

All oceanographic cables are lubricated during manufacture with Grignard Chemical Co. Pre-Lube #6 or #19. Cables are periodically rinsed and lubricated with the same product during service. Cable lubrication may be deferred if there is concern about potential contamination of sampling.

It is imperative that oceanographic cables be used in a responsible manner which does not compromise their availability to subsequent investigators. Cables are expensive and at times in short supply. Reasonable care must be taken to maintain their integrity and extend their useful life. Questions related to the use of cables should be directed to Ship Operations during cruise planning.

Notes, cautions, and restrictions to the use of cables:

  1. Cables are not to be loaded in excess of their safe working load. Caution must be exercised in lowering instruments which are heavy, entrap large volumes of water, or produce excessive hydrodynamic drag forces. This is particularly true when operating in moderate sea states or water depths greater than 4,000 meters.
  2. Cables will not be permitted to pass over sheaves which are not properly sized (groove size and tread diameter) for that cable.
  3. In general, devices are not to be clamped onto any conducting cable. This is to prevent damage to conductors and their insulation. The exception is that devices may be clamped within 100 meters of the termination.
  4. Certain operations, such as dragging for moorings, deliberately subject cables to severe abuses such as kinking and abrasion. Whenever possible, the main cables will be protected from abuse by splicing or attaching sacrificial wires of comparable strength to the end.

Cranes and Overside Handling


Oceanus is fitted with a single Allied Marine Model TB 60-65 hydraulic marine crane. The crane is totally self-contained with the electrical controller, hydraulic power pack and operator station mounted on the crane or its pedestal. The crane is located on the upper deck on the center line of the ship in a position that allows access to all working deck space, over the side and over the stern.

Crane (Photo by John Dyke Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The crane is fitted with one fixed boom (main shipper) and two extendable booms (crowds). The working radius of the crane ranges from 10 to 65 feet. The at-sea load rating ranges from a maximum of 40,000 lbs. to 6,890 lbs. fully extended. The dockside rating is somewhat higher.

Use of the crane at sea is limited primarily by the strength of the slewing or rotating mechanism. The slewing mechanism, although strengthened for use on a moving ship, is not capable of withstanding the potentially extreme side loading dynamic forces that can be caused by towing or pulling loads, or by the roll of the ship. There are no rigid guidelines for the use of the crane in this regard, but, in general, side loading producing a torque of 60,000 ft. lbs. (2,000 lbs. at a 30 foot radius or equivalent) should be avoided. Limits on crane use at sea are normally set by common sense and by good seamanship practices.

The crane is capable of serving as the overboarding point for cables or wire spooled on the trawl winch. The cable can be led from the trawl winch flag block directly to an overboarding sheave hung from the crane. The flag block will follow the motion of the crane as it is raised/lowered or rotated. Used in this configuration, instruments can be suspended and lowered over the starboard side when necessary. Operation in this mode requires that a special boom crutch be installed to support the boom and to absorb the forces caused by the working cable; prior arrangements for this equipment are necessary.

Stern A-Frame

A hydraulically powered A-frame is located at the stern on the centerline to serve as the overboarding and support point for instruments being towed astern of the ship. The main trawl block is normally hung from the A-frame.

A-Frame (Photo by John Dyke Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Inside Horizontal Clearance:9 feet (2.7 m)
Maximum Vertical Clearance:14 feet (4.2 m)
Maximum Inboard Reach:6 feet (1.8 m)
Maximum Outboard Reach:4 feet (1.2 m)
Safe Working Load:26,000 lbs.

The Safe Working Load is based on the condition that the load be suspended from the center of the span and that the A-frame is fully extended and resting on its stops.

The hydraulics are capable of lifting and moving the A-frame with a maximum suspended load of 7,000 lbs. This freedom of movement is designed to facilitate the handling of instruments during launch and recovery operations.

An 18-foot yardarm or spreader bar is welded across the top of the structure to provide lift points outside of the area enclosed by the A-frame. This facilitates handling of towed instruments and the launch/recovery of moorings, as well as providing multiple overhead lift points for utility use. Maximum loading at the end of the yardarm is 1,000 lbs. Attachment points large enough to pass 5/8" shackles are provided every 8" along the length of the yardarm. Three center padeyes are designed for 2" shackles.

The controls are located at the A-frame, mounted on the starboard leg. Lights, electrical power (110 volt AC), voice communications, and compressed air are located on or in the immediate vicinity of the A-frame. Cleats for securing steadying lines and mounting brackets for air winches are welded to the frame, and portable deck cleats are available.


An Avon rigid-hull inflatable boat (RIB) is carried on the 02 Deck.

Avon rigid-hull boat (Photo by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Length:15.5 feet
Power:40 HP long-shaft outboard motor

The boat is available for use by scientific programs for personnel transfer and for general utility work. Gasoline for the motor is always carried aboard the ship. Its size requires that considerable clear space be provided on the Main Deck for this purpose. The boat is operated by a member of the ship's crew.

Scientific Instrumentation

Navigation Equipment

Oceanus is outfitted with a full suite of navigational equipment as required by regulation and as dictated by its principal scientific missions. The equipment is oriented toward use by the officer on the bridge.

The vessel is equipped with the following Satellite Navigation devices:

The Furuno GP-1850W and Furuno GP-90D receivers are the primary navigation devices for the ship. The Furuno GP-90D unit is equipped with a differential beacon receiver (d-GPS). In addition to the visual display in the chart room, the units output a data stream to the science data logger for remote display, logging and redistribution to science user devices. All standard NEMA GPS data are available. Typical data provided are Time, Position, Velocity, Course-Over-Ground and Speed-Over-Ground.

Gyro Compass:(2) Sperry MK-37 gyro compass systems
Speed Log:440KHz Furuno DS-50Doppler speed log
Radars:Furuno RDP-115A S-Band with ARPA
Furuno RDP-115A X-Band with ARPA
Direction Finder:Taiyo TD-L1620 VHF
Fathometer:Furuno FE-880 50 KHz

Shipboard Computing

The Oceanus provides 2-3 computers for general science use. These computers are intended to be used for email and data access. We recommend that you bring your own computer if you plan to do intensive data processing or networking.


Oceanus has its own network, separate from the ship's computers. The science party can connect to this network at Ethernet hubs located throughout the lab spaces.

Networking info:
DNS server:
NTP Time server (GPS clock):

IP addresses are assigned via DHCP. Static IP addresses are also available in this range: to .

Please note that the ship's data collection computers are part of a separate network. The science party is typically not permitted to connect directly to the ship's data collection network. If you need special access, please contact the Ship Operations before the cruise.

Virus scanning is the science party's responsibility. Oncoming science parties should make sure that all computers brought on board have been scanned with the most up-to-date antivirus software.


Oceanus has (???) printers available for use by the science party. These printers can be accessed from the network. If you expect to make extensive use of the printer, please bring a few reams of blank 8.5 x 11" inch laser/copier paper.

Email and File Transfer

Oceanus provides has email and FTP service to scientists and crew. Please contact the Marine Technician for details.

Email transmissions are made via satellite internet or satellite modem. The frequency of email transmissions depends on signal availability. Transmissions are typically made at least 3-5 times per day.

There is a default size limitation of 10 kbytes (???) per message to avoid interrupted transmissions and high satellite costs. If you expect to send or receive large emails, please contact the Marine Technician.

Data Collection

Underway data collection is handled by a number of computers and custom software programs. A central data collection program collects, logs, and distributes the data.

Data can be accessed in real-time via UDP broadcasts or serial connection. A number of "J-Boxes" (wiring jumper boxes) are located throughout the ship.

The ship makes daily and weekly backups of the underway data. If you need more frequent backups, we recommend that you bring your own backup computer and software.

Communication at Sea

Oceanus is outfitted to provide worldwide voice, facsimile and data communications. The vessel does not have a Radio Officer. All radio communications are handled by the Master or the Marine Technician.

Communication devices on board available to the science party
Single-Side Band (SSB)Furuno FS-5000 GMDSS
Stephens SEA-222
VHFStandard OMNI
(2) Furuno FM-8500 GMDSS
INMARSATNERA B with HSD and voice
Fleet Broadband Voice
Weather FacsimileFuruno FAX-207A