CORVALLIS, Ore. – The first new Regional Class Research Vessel being constructed with funds from the National Science Foundation to bolster the nation’s aging U.S. Academic Research Fleet now has a name.

The Oregon State University-bound research ship will be called Taani (pronounced “tahnee”), a word used by the Siletz people meaning “offshore.” Under construction by Gulf Island Shipyards, LLC in Louisiana, the vessel is scheduled for delivery to OSU in the spring of 2021, and will be fully operational after a year of outfitting and testing.

“The name is appropriate because it continues the university’s tradition of tying the names of its research vessels to regional Native American tribes and languages,” said Roberta Marinelli, dean of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, which will operate the vessel. “Also the ship will be a centerpiece for coastal research, an area in which Oregon State has an international reputation.”

R/V Taani and the two other new ships are essential to support marine research as the United States and other countries face unprecedented challenges to their coastal waters, Marinelli said.

“Rising sea levels, ocean acidification, low-oxygen waters or ‘hypoxia,’ ecosystem changes, and the threat of catastrophic tsunamis are issues not only in the Pacific Northwest, but around the world,” Marinelli said. “R/V Taani will provide the most advanced access and equipment for better understanding our changing oceans.”

The National Science Foundation selected Oregon State in 2013 to lead the design, shipyard selection, construction and transition to operations phases for as many as three new regional class vessels for the academic fleet. Subsequently, the National Science Board – the oversight body for the National Science Foundation – authorized as much as $365 million for the project.

Last summer, the NSF awarded OSU a grant of $121.88 million to launch the construction of the first vessel, which was the largest grant in the university’s history. This summer, the grant was supplemented with an additional $88 million to proceed with the contract for the second vessel.

Taani will replace the Research Vessel (R/V) Oceanus, which in 2012 was transferred to Oregon State from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to replace OSU’s Wecoma, which was retired.  The name “Wecoma” comes from a Chinook term meaning “sea.”

The name “Taani” was forwarded to Marinelli by a committee chaired by Richard “Rick” Spinrad, former vice president for research at OSU, and included John Byrne, former OSU president and NOAA Administrator; Alfred “Bud” Lane III, a language and traditional arts teacher and vice-chairman of the Tribal Council of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians; as well as several OSU scientists and administrators well-versed in the traditions of oceanography at OSU.

Byrne and his wife, Shirley, have agreed to be the ship’s ceremonial sponsors and will inscribe their initials into the ship’s keel, assuring it is “truly and fairly” constructed, and will preside over the christening of Taani when it is launched.

The new OSU research vessel will be 199 feet long with a range of approximately 7,000 nautical miles. It will have berths for 16 scientists and 13 crew members, and will be able to stay out at sea for about 21 days before returning to port. Its cruising speed will be 11.5 knots, with a maximum speed of 13 knots.

A team from OSU is at the shipyard in Louisiana overseeing the transfer of the design into construction. The official keel laying for R/V Taani will be in November of 2018.

More information on the ships and the project is available at:


History of OSU Major Research Vessels and Names

  • 1964: The Department of Oceanography commissions the 180-foot Yaquina. The ship, as well as the bay and river with the same name, honors the Yaquina people – a small band of Yakonan speakers who lived near the central Oregon coast.
  • 1968: The Department of Oceanography commissions the 80-foot Cayuse, named after a Native American tribe from the northeast area of Oregon. The Cayuse are part of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla.
  • 1975: The School of Oceanography commissions the 184-foot Wecoma, a Chinook word meaning “sea.”
  • 2012 - The College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences takes over operation of the 177-foot Oceanus, which was originally commissioned to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and transferred to OSU to replace Wecoma.
  • Oregon State has also operated several smaller research vessels including Elakha  (meaning sea otter) and Pacific Storm, which are still in use, as well as Acona, Shoshone and Paiute.



College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences

About the OSU College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS): The college is renowned for research excellence and academic programs that span the earth, ocean and climate sciences, as well as the human dimensions of environmental change. CEOAS inspires scientific solutions for Oregon and the world.

Story By: 

Mark Floyd, 541-737-0788, [email protected]


Demian Bailey, 541-737-0460, [email protected];

Roberta Marinelli, 541-737-5159, [email protected];

Clare Reimers, 541-737-2426, [email protected]


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