CFCC christens new research vessel

by Pam Creech
Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Supplied photo courtesy of Cape Fear Community College 

Cape Fear Community College marine tech students will depart on Monday, Sept. 9, for their first voyage on the R/V Cape Hatteras, a 135-foot research vessel purchased last spring.

R/V Cape Hatteras leaves port Sept.9 

In March, Cape Fear Community College purchased a 135-foot research vessel, the R/V Cape Hatteras, from the National Science Foundation for $900,000. 

“That was equipment money that we got from the state,” said Jason Rogers, chair of CFCC’s marine technology department. Formerly, the boat was operated by the Duke/University of North Carolina Oceanographic Consortium.

The vessel will be used primarily by CFCC’s marine tech students, who must spend a total of 32 days at sea before they graduate from the two-year program. The Cape Hatteras replaced the R/V Dan Moore, a ship the college had used for more than 30 years.

“The Dan Moore was a converted fishing trawler. It really wasn’t built for research,” Rogers said.

The Cape Hatteras, however, was designed for research. 

“We’ve got a ton of equipment — scientific instrumentation — that came with the sale,” Rogers said.

Though the Cape Hatteras can carry the same number of students the Dan Moore carried, its living conditions have been a dramatic improvement. On the Dan Moore, 17 students stayed in two bunkrooms, one for males and one for females. The Cape Hatteras sleeps two students per berth, and four students share a head.

This fall, CFCC students will take their first voyages on the Cape Hatteras, departing on Monday, Sept. 9. 

“It’ll be four days at sea without a port,” Rogers said. He plans to use the time at sea to teach freshmen skills like biological sampling. 

“We’ll drag plankton nets. We’ll drag trawls,” he said.

The four-day voyages will be a chance for the new students to become acclimated to life at sea. “Many of them have never been out of the sight of land,” Rogers said. He will also teach the students how to react in emergency situations, such as fire or “man overboard” scenarios.

Marine technology students take a total of four trips, one each semester, before they graduate. Past trips included Beaufort, N.C., Charleston,S.C., and Baltimore, Md.

Perhaps the most memorable excursion is an eight-day cruise to the Bahamas that students take during their final semester. When students aren’t working on the boat, they enjoy outdoor leisure activities, like snorkeling and scuba diving.

Harrison Hall, a second-year CFCC student from Highlands, N.C., enjoys the marine tech department’s field work. 

“It’s really different from any other program I’ve done,” Hall said. He earned an associate of science degree before enrolling in marine tech classes.

Aside from the rigorous field work, the amount of skills the students master is another unique aspect of the marine tech program. Individuals learn how to use and maintain equipment, such as physical and chemical measuring instruments, electronic navigation devices and water sampling instruments.

For more information about the R/V Cape Hatteras or CFCC’s marine technology program, visit

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