New Research Vessel Named for Recent Sully Award Winner Bill Hogarth

Launch of the research vessel W.T. Hogarth. Credit: Eric Younghans, USF.

With the crack of two bottles of champagne and a blessing from a local priest, Florida’s newest research vessel, the R/V W.T. Hogarth, was christened and launched for the first time on May 23, 2017.

The 78-foot vessel, named after William T. Hogarth, Ph.D, the Florida Institute of Oceanography’s former director and the former dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science, will be used to support research efforts by USF, as well as more than two dozen institutions and agencies across Florida. Hogarth received the Carl R. Sullivan Fishery Conservation Award, known as the “Sully,” from the American Fisheries Society at last year’s Annual Meeting in Kansas City.

Legislators worked hard to keep the contract local, and challenged Duckworth Steel Boats of Tarpon Springs with designing and building the ship.

“It was a little different than anything else we’ve worked on, but it means a lot to me because I like to see that the oceans are being taking care of,” said Junior Duckworth, owner of Duckworth Steel Boats.

This fall, the W.T. Hogarth will replace the nearly 50-year old R/V Bellows, by joining the FIO’s academic fleet with an inaugural voyage, undertaking a circumnavigation of Florida’s coast.

“The W.T. Hogarth is an incredible research vessel that will be instrumental in helping our researchers and our students study our shorelines, our Gulf and the greater oceans of the world,” said USF System President Judy Genshaft.

The watercraft is expected to be used for refined bottom mapping, metal tracing, surveying, collecting samples, and much more.

“It’s a floating classroom,” Hogarth said.

A graduate of the University of Richmond, Hogarth earned his doctorate at the North Carolina State University, and began his career studying the effects of nuclear power plants on marine resources for Carolina Power and Light. He went on to become the director of the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries for eight years, before joining the National Marine Fisheries Service in 1994.

In 2001, Hogarth became the director of NMFS and was appointed by former President George W. Bush to serve as the U.S. Commissioner and Chairman for both the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna and the International Whaling commission. 

He became the interim dean of USF’s College of Marine Science in 2008, and in 2010 lead his team in instrumental research efforts during the immediate aftermath of the explosion on the oil-drilling platform Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, whose findings impacted the restoration efforts and global understanding of oil spill dynamics. Hogarth was named the director of the FIO in 2011, an organization established by the Florida Board of Governors, to share marine science resources between the state’s universities and private, non-profit marine research entities.

“For a person that worked in fisheries and oceanography, to have a vessel named after you, it’s the ultimate,” said Hogarth.

The $6.3 million asset, which will call the USF College of Marine Science campus in St. Petersburg home, was funded by the City of St. Petersburg, FIO and its member institutions, including the University of South Florida, University of West Florida, Florida Atlantic University, Florida Gulf Coast University, University of North Florida, University of Florida, Florida Institute of Technology, Eckerd College, Florida International University, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Nova Southeastern, University of Central Florida, and Florida State University, which matched the $3 million appropriated from the State of Florida in 2016.

Source: USF press release by Ryan Noone