NOAA announced Tuesday that it is acquiring two new oceanographic ships as part of a fleet rebuilding effort.

One of the ships, the Oceanographer, will be homeported in Honolulu. It will replace the Hiialakai, which was retired early because of corrosion.

The second ship, the Discoverer, will be assigned a homeport at a future date.

Design of the vessels is underway and NOAA expects to award contracts for construction by the end of the year.

A NOAA vessel in operation. The federal agency is in the process of acquiring two new oceanographic ships as part of its fleet rebuilding effort. NOAA

“Once in service, the new ships will support a wide variety of missions, ranging from general oceanographic research and exploration to marine life, climate and ocean ecosystem studies,” according to a press release.

In his own press release, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he helped secure federal funding to update Hawaii’s “aging” NOAA vessels.

And U.S. Rep. Ed Case said in his own press release that the new vessels “will ensure that our country can continue with the vital research necessary to research and preserve our marine world that while still largely unknown is so vital to the present and future of our planet.”

Case is a new member of the House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee, which oversees all NOAA funding.

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