ODU’s Ship Comes In

The university’s new, long-awaited research vessel, R/V Fay Slover, was christened last fall at a ceremony held next to Nauticus in downtown Norfolk. The $1.3 million, 55-foot aluminum-hull craft will serve as the keystone for both current and new research in marine observation in lower Chesapeake Bay and adjacent waters. It is named for the original benefactor of Old Dominion’s oceanography program.

“The vessel construction is first-class and the instrumentation package is state-of-the-art,” said Tom Royer, acting chair of the Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, which will operate the craft.

A 1967 bequest from Fay Slover, resulting in the $8.4 million endowment of the oceanography program in 1986, supports three Samuel L. and Fay M. Slover chairs at Old Dominion. The late Fay Slover was the widow of Col. Samuel L. Slover, one of the founders of the Norfolk newspapers The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star.

Funds for construction of the Slover were provided by donations to the university’s Educational Foundation.

The Fay Slover replaces Old Dominion’s 48-year-old vessel, R/V Linwood Holton, and will be docked at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Operations Center in Norfolk.

A distinctive feature of the vessel is its high-speed capability, which permits samples to be gathered over wide areas with similar tide and weather conditions. Twin 700-horsepower diesel engines, in combination with a semi-displacement hull, allow it to operate at maximum speeds of more than 20 knots.

This affords researchers maximum time on station, reduced transit time and an increase in the range of operation. It will also enable them to take advantage of narrow weather windows in the Chesapeake Bay and adjacent coastal waters.

Royer said the Slover is expected to get more usage than the Holton, which averaged about 80 days per year.