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Research Vessel Point Sur Departed November 29th, 2012 for a 5 Month Expedition to the Antarctic

November 28, 2012 - 5:00pm
For Immediate Release
November 28, 2012
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Moss Landing, CA 


Moss Landing, Calif. – 28 November 2012 - Under the darkening skies of approaching winter storms, the Research Vessel Point Sur will soon slip her mooring lines and head south for 8,200 miles.  Final destination: Palmer Station, Antarctica.  So begins the latest adventure for Moss Landing Marine Laboratories’ 135-foot, 495 ton flagship and her dedicated crew, to support the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs and the scientists studying the habitat, chemistry, climate, biology, geology and physics of the Antarctic Peninsula around the US base at Palmer Station.

The R/V Point Sur at dock beneath stormy skies.  (photo: Jane Fusek)

Palmer Station is a small field station located on the Palmer Peninsula and accommodates about 40 to 50 summertime scientists. The station is located on a small inlet on Amsler Island, which is not readily accessible to larger ships.  Three years ago, amid increased interest in climate change impacts to the Antarctic continent and shrinking operational budgets, the National Science Foundation (NSF) approached MLML’s Marine Operations with a request to use the R/VPoint Sur in support of science missions along the Antarctic Peninsula.  After extensive evaluations, involving University National Oceanographic Laboratory System, NSF, the State Department, shipyards and seasoned ice-pilots, the vessel was readied for Antarctic waters.

The cruise track down to the Antarctic Peninsula will take the R/V Point Sur from Moss Landing to Punta Arenas, Chile with stops for refueling twice along the way.  After approximately 30 days of transit, the ship will then leave Punta Arenas in early January and spend two months working along the Antarctic Peninsula before returning to Punta Arenas.  It will then head back to Moss Landing while supporting additional science projects in Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico on its way and returning to its homeport in May of 2013.

While in the Antarctic, research will focus on sub-tidal ecology, geology and the tagging and tracking of marine mammals.  Follow the ship’s path and read about the science mission and crew members’ adventures on the MLML Marine Operations’ website ( As the R/VPoint Sur steams south from the shortening days and darkening skies of winter, to the lengthening days and brightening skies of summer, many wish her calm winds and following seas, and success in the discovery of the science she supports, a half a world away.

R/V Point Sur on a class cruise on Monterey Bay during sunny weather.  (photo: Brynn Hooton-Kaufman)

Research Vessel Point Sur/Antarctic Support:

Home Port:  Moss Landing                        
Destination:  Palmer Station and vicinity
Round trip distance:  17,000 miles            
Anticipated Fuel Consumption:  80,000 gallons
Duration:  5 months                                  
Number of Crew:  10
Length of Vessel:  135 feet                        
Displacement:  495 tons

The R/V Point Sur is tentatively scheduled to depart this Thursday, November 29th at 2 PM from Moss Landing Harbor.  Should inclement weather cause delays, the R/V Point Sur may depart Friday, November 30th at 10 AM or at a later time and date. 

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories is the graduate program in marine science for California State Universities East Bay, Fresno, Monterey Bay, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, and Stanislaus.  MLML has operated the R/VPoint Sur, owned by the National Science Foundation, for the past 30 years.  To learn more information about education, research and marine operations at MLML, visit 


Stewart Lamerdin, Marine Superintendent, (831) 771-4134, lamerdin [at] mlml [dot] calstate [dot] edu

Brynn Hooton-Kaufman, Communications Associate, (831) 771-4464, bhooton [at] mlml [dot] calstate [dot] edu