University of Miami Research Vessel
Joins Efforts in Gulf of Mexico

Walton Smith Reassigned to Support the Federal Oil Spill Response Effort

F/G Walton Smith

MIAMI — May 27, 2010 — At the request of federal government agencies involved in the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command, the National Science Foundation and the University of Miami (UM) are reassigning the R/V F.G. Walton Smith to support efforts by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency in assessing the situation at and near the wellhead of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform. The ship will be used to support the scientists assessing the extent and chemical composition of subsurface blooms previously reported by scientists aboard another UNOLS (University National Laboratory System) vessel contracted to NOAA. The academic scientists who participated in the prior cruise along with federal scientists and representatives of the national press are aboard.

“The R/V Walton Smith has been scheduled for scientific cruises throughout most of the summer, but we have temporarily redeployed it to assist in this national emergency,” said Roni Avissar, dean of the UM Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. “The ship joins our comprehensive scientific efforts, which up until now have included extensive use of satellite imagery through the Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing (CSTARS), collaboration with NOAA on flights over the affected region, and modeling of possible oil trajectories.” 

The R/V Walton Smith is part of UNOLS, an organization of 61 academic institutions and National Laboratories involved in oceanographic research.  The vessel is a 96-foot catamaran outfitted with 680 sq. ft. of laboratory space, state-of-the-art scientific instrumentation and space to carry 20 scientists and crew. The ship’s shallow 7-foot draft enables it to explore reefs, mangroves, grassbeds, and other shallow environments, as well as deep ocean environments.

The UM Rosenstiel School has launched a new “Oil Spill” web page designed to share some of the science being conducted at the Rosenstiel School that is relevant to the issues emerging from the incident on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform. Designed for use by teachers, students and general audiences, the site focuses on the ocean environment.

The R/V F/G Walton Smith in the news:

About the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School
The University of Miami is the largest private research institution in the southeastern United States. The University’s mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit