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Ship History

Sea Training Vessels at Cape Fear Community College

Since its inception in 1965, a cornerstone of the Marine Technology program at Cape Fear Community College has been underway, offshore training for students on College-operated oceanographic research vessels. A brief history of the ships follows:

  • R/V ADVANCE II: 1965-1981
  • R/V DAN MOORE: 1982-2013
  • R/V CAPE HATTERAS: 2013-present

The R/V (research vessel) CAPE HATTERAS, built in 1981, was owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by Duke University from her home port on Pivers Island in Beaufort, NC. She was used by Duke/UNC Oceanographic Consortium and scheduled by UNOLS (University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System). Her areas of operation were the North American east coast from Nova Scotia to the Caribbean. She was operated primarily as a Regional Zone Research Vessel. Cape Fear Community College purchased the ship in March 2013.

The CAPE HATTERAS replaced the R/V DAN MOORE, which logged over 2,500 days of seatime on 419 voyages during a 32 year period as our Marine Technology training vessel.

The DAN MOORE was named after the governor of North Carolina who was in office when the ship was built in 1967 in New Bern, NC. Designed by Massachusetts-based naval architects Potter and MacArthur as a steel stern trawler, the 85 ft. long vessel was operated by N.C. Department of Marine Fisheries based in Morehead City for 15 years. Its mission was to study fish population distribution in North Carolina waters and to test different methods of fish harvesting. But in 1981, the Marine Fisheries Department, facing a budget crunch due to federal funding cutbacks, was forced to seek a smaller, more cost-efficient vessel to take the DAN MOORE’s place.

At that time in Wilmington, Cape Fear Technical Institute (the name was changed to Cape Fear Community College in 1988) had been operating the R/V ADVANCE II since1965. The 180-footer was built by the US Navy in 1944 as a Patrol Craft Escort (or “sub-chaser”), and acquired by the Institute to serve as the sea training vessel for Marine Technology A.A.S. students. In addition, the ship was chartered to other colleges, universities and scientific agencies for oceanographic research work. She carried a crew of 20 and had accommodations for up to 55 students and scientists. In addition to her regular training voyages off the Southeast coast, she undertook extended voyages to Lake Ontario (on a UN research project), the US Virgin Islands (for the BOMEX expedition in 1969), and to Guyana, South America.

In 1981, due in part to the soaring cost of fuel, and to the expensive challenges of maintaining such an old vessel, it was time to retire the ADVANCE II from her academic service career, and she was sold for $151,000 to a menhaden fishing company based in Weems, Virginia. (She finally went on in 1994 to be sunk as an artificial reef offshore of Oregon Inlet on the NC Outer BanksAn agreement was made between the two state agencies to render mutual aid: CFTI would pay for the construction of a new and more cost-effective 47 foot long Marine Fisheries vessel, and in consideration, would acquire the R/V DAN MOORE to take the place of the ADVANCE II. During the interim period, while this arrangement was finalized, in 1981 and in early 1982, CFTI chartered Duke University’s 135-foot R/V CAPE HATTERAS for its student training voyages.

In October 1982 then, the DAN MOORE sailed to her new homeport of Wilmington. At that time, she had accommodations for only 12 persons, and she was “rigged” for commercial fishing. To enable her new scientific training role, 14 new bunks were installed in the lower deck laboratory; much of the heavy fishing gear was removed and replaced with oceanographic winches and over-the-side A-frames. In addition to her use for Marine Technology training, she also served as the training vessel for the College’s Commercial Fishing curriculum. (This program was discontinued in 1988.) A 150 square foot scientific laboratory was built on the main deck in 1992 to better accommodate the use of new oceanographic equipment and methods. The ship’s engines and reduction gears were renewed in 1993. She has safely logged over 1900 days of sea time since her acquisition by the College. In addition to the primary mission of student training, she has been chartered for use by such agencies as Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. Geological Survey, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, Duke University, UNC-Wilmington, NC State University, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and Scientific Applications International Company, among others.