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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.
Oceanus was transferred to OSU from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in March 2012 to replace its sister ship, R/V Wecoma.
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. With her move to Oregon State University, Oceanus continues her scientific mission throughout the Pacific, with trips ranging from the Bering Sea in the north, to the equator in the south, and as far west as Hawaii.