Duke Marine Lab Research Vessel ‘Shearwater’ Arrives in Beaufort

The R/V Shearwater arrived in Beaufort Tuesday, Nov. 26. (Duke University photo)

Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort has a new addition, and it’s a sizable one.

The Research Vessel Shearwater quietly slipped into Beaufort waters at 3 pm Tuesday, ahead of its original schedule. The vessel was originally going to spend the Holidays in Florida before making its way to the lab.

The 77-foot-long catamaran fills a big hole among the lab’s research tools. The lab retired its previous vessel, the R/V Susan Hudson, in 2014.


Shearwater extends the capabilities of the previous research vessel. It is equipped with laboratories and sleeping quarters for 15 people, allowing for uninterrupted research at sea. It can accommodate up to 30 people for day excursions, and will also be available for educational K-12 field trips.

“Ocean studies are central to the resolution of global environmental problems related to the impacts of humans on ecological systems, biodiversity, climate change, coastal land management, environmental quality, and environmental health,” Andy Read, Chair of the Division of Marine Science and Conservation and Director of the marine lab told Duke Environment Magazine this fall.

“So it seems quite sensible to have a vehicle that will allow us to get out on the water to study the oceans, teach our students about these processes, and engage community partners in our mission.”

Shearwater was built specifically for the marine lab, and was made possible by an $11 million grant from the Grainger Family Descendants Fund.