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Operator Selection for Two Regional Class Research Vessels

Status: Archived

Archived funding opportunity

This document has been archived.

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.


The Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) Integrative Programs Section (IPS) is soliciting proposals from eligible organizations to serve as Operating Institutions (OIs) for two (2) Regional Class Research Vessels (RCRVs).  Planning for construction of new RCRVs for the U.S. Academic Research Fleet (ARF) has been ongoing at the National Science Foundation for more than a decade.  In early 2012 a Solicitation (NSF-12-558) was issued for the design and construction of up to three RCRVs.  The solicitation provided that the Awardee would serve as Lead Institution (LI) for the Design and Construction of all vessels in the Class with the option to serve as Operator of the Lead Ship. The solicitation further indicated that selection of OIs for any additional vessels would be conducted by means of a separate competition that would be completed prior to delivery of the first RCRV. 

In early 2013, a resulting Cooperative Agreement was awarded to Oregon State University (OSU). As the LI, OSU is responsible for managing each phase of the design, construction and trials of each vessel in the Class. The Design Phase has been completed and NSF’s 2017 budget included a provision that supported construction of three (3) ships.  A construction contract for up to three Regional Class Research Vessels was awarded to Gulf Island Shipyards, LLC.

This solicitation seeks to select qualified institutions to operate the additional RCRV Class vessels. These institutions shall either have current membership in the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) or be capable of becoming UNOLS members prior to taking over responsibility for full vessel operations. Separate proposals are required for each vessel.  The solicitation requires prospective Awardees to perform the following, separately-funded activities:  

  • Provide Operating Institution representation on-site at the shipyard from the start of the Design Verification and Transfer (DVT) for their respective vessel (see estimated dates below).
  • Provide one representative to a Transition Core Team formed at the start of the Transition to Operations Phase of RCRV #1(estimated to be October 2019).
  • Provide appropriate levels of phased personnel resources in support of the two-year Transition to Operations periods for RCRV #2 and RCRV #3, which start one year prior to vessel delivery and end one year following vessel delivery.

The requirement to provide one year of Full Operations after completing the Transition to Operations Phase for each vessel will be funded directly under this solicitation.

The staggered schedule for the Construction Phase of the RCRV program is based on one-year increments for RCRV #1, #2 and #3, such that Design Verification Start, Transition Start, Vessel Delivery, Transition End and 1st year of post-Transition operations for RCRV#1 precedes comparable milestones for RCRV# 2 by one year, which precedes RCRV #3 by one year. Accordingly, a tentative schedule of milestones during and after completion of construction that will require Awardee participation is as follows:

For RCRV #2

  • Start DVT                                                        - June 2018
  • Start Transition to Operations Phase                  - October 2020
  • Vessel Delivery                                                - October 2021
  • End Transition to Operations Phase                    - September 2022
  • Start Full Year Operations                                 - October 2022
  • Full Year Operations Complete                          - September 2023

For RCRV #3

  • Start DVT                                                         - June 2019
  • Start Transition to Operations Phase                   - October 2021
  • Vessel Delivery                                                 - October 2022
  • End Transition to Operations Phase                     - September 2023
  • Start Full Year Operations                                  - October 2023
  • Full Year Operations Complete                           - September 2024

The awards resulting from this solicitation will encompass Operating Institution activities during estimated 76 month periods for RCRV #2 and for RCRV #3.  Activities from Start of DVT to the End of the Transition to Operations Phase will be MREFC-funded by way of a required contract instrument executed between the OI with the RCRV Lead Institution (OSU). 

The first Full Year of Operations following the Transition for RCRV #2 and RCRV #3 will be R&RA funded through the Cooperative Agreement(s) resulting from this solicitation.  Thereafter, separate Cooperative Agreements will be negotiated between NSF Ship Operations and the successful Awardees for subsequent operational periods.

Program contacts

Rose Dufour
rdufour@nsf.gov (703) 292-8811 GEO/OCE
Brian Midson
bmidson@nsf.gov (703) 292-8145 GEO/OCE

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