The U.S. Navy will christen the Auxiliary General Oceanographic Research (AGOR) R/V Neil Armstrong (AGOR 27) during a ceremony March 29 at the Port of Anacortes Transit Shed in Anacortes, Wash.
In keeping with tradition, Carol Armstrong, the ship's sponsor, will break a bottle of sparkling wine against the ship and christen it in the name of her late husband, astronaut Neil Armstrong.
"The christening of the Neil Armstrong, a state-of-the art research vessel, is a fitting tribute to a man whose work as a naval aviator and astronaut inspired generations of Americans to look beyond the horizon, to strive to achieve the seemingly impossible," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. "This ceremony honors not only this great man, but the hundreds of people whose tireless efforts in constructing this ship led to this day, a day when the spirit of discovery and exploration is celebrated as it should be."
Mabus named R/V Neil Armstrong (AGOR 27) to honor the memory of Neil Armstrong, best known for being the first man to walk on the moon. Armstrong was an aeronautics pioneer and explorer for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) serving as an engineer, test pilot, astronaut and administrator. Armstrong also served as a naval aviator flying nearly 80 combat missions during the Korean War.
The Neil Armstrong-class of research vessels are modern research vessels based on a commercial design, capable of integrated, interdisciplinary, general purpose oceanographic research in coastal and deep ocean areas. R/V Neil Armstrong, the first in its class, is being constructed by Dakota Creek Industries Inc.
Additionally, the Neil Armstrong class will feature a modern suite of oceanographic equipment, state of the art acoustic equipment capable of mapping the deepest parts of the oceans, advanced over-the-side handling gear to deploy and retrieve scientific instruments, emissions controls for stack gasses, and new information technology tools both for monitoring shipboard systems and for communicating with land-based sites worldwide. Enhanced modular onboard laboratories and extensive science payload capacity will provide the ships with the flexibility to meet a wide variety of oceanographic research challenges in the coming decades.
The Navy currently owns six of the nation's largest oceanographic research ships, which support critical naval research in forward deployed areas of the world's oceans, as well as the needs of other federal agencies. A major segment of the U.S. research fleet is now approaching the end of its service life and is in need of replacement.
R/V Neil Armstrong will be U.S. flagged, manned by a commercial crew, and will be operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution under a contract with the U.S. government.