RV Clifford A. Barnes

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RV Clifford A. Barnes.jpg
RV Clifford A. Barnes at its home port
United States
Name: RV Clifford A. Barnes
Namesake: Clifford A. Barnes
Owner: National Science Foundation
Operator: University of Washington
Builder: Western Boat, Tacoma, Washington
Laid down: 1965
Acquired: by the U. S. Coast Guard, 1965, as BITT WYTL 65613
Decommissioned: 1982
In service: circa 1982 as RV Cifford A. Barnes
Reclassified: Leased to University of Washington, School of Oceanography, 1995
Homeport: School of Oceanography Pier, Portage Bay
General characteristics
Tonnage: 86 displacement tons
Length: 65', 5.5"
Beam: 19', 7.5"
Propulsion: CAT D379 400 HP
Range: 1,000 miles
Endurance: 7 days
Complement: 8, including 6 scientific party
Crew: 2
Armament: none

The RV Clifford A. Barnes is a research vessel owned by the National Science Foundation and operated as part of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System fleet. The University of Washington School of Oceanography currently operates the vessel under a Charter Party agreement.[1] Other ships in use by the University of Washington include the RV Thomas G. Thompson (T-AGOR-23) and the Wealander.


The Clifford A. Barnes began service as a United States Coast Guard tugboat[2] designated USCG BITT WYTL 65613. Built by Western Boat in 1965 for ice operations, search and rescue, and pollution response, she was one of fifteen of her class ordered by the Coast Guard. She was decommissioned in 1982 and turned over to the National Science Foundation, although ships of her class remained in use by the USCG until 1995.[3]

Current mission

The University of Washington School of Oceanography uses the Barnes for oceanographic and fishery research in the protected littoral waters of Washington and British Columbia. The vessel serves as platform for research on the fjord system of Puget Sound and the surrounding bodies of water. She supports research best done in sheltered bodies of water, and on the effects of populated areas on coastal areas.[4] The Barnes has a small science space, two winches, a crane, and can house up to six scientists and students. Cruises are generally only one day in length, although they sometimes run as long as six days. The university's use of the Barnes is supported through a combination of grants and contracts, the university's operating funds, and self-sustaining revenue.[5] The Barnes has gone on over 77 cruises since April 2008.[6]

Community outreach

An important non-research function of the Clifford A. Barnes is to serve as a vehicle for community outreach. The main purpose of this outreach is to educate students about the marine sciences. This is primarily done through a two-day open house for local students grades three to twelve. Faculty, crew, and students give tours of the ship, as well as demonstrations of marine research.[7]


Although an October 2011 National Science Foundation inspection revealed that the Barnes is still in generally good condition, its limited scientific and berthing capacity have prompted the University of Washington to look for a replacement. Although the replacement ship would still operate primarily in and around Puget Sound, Jensen Maritime Consultants has been commissioned to draw up plans[8] for the a vessel that will feature faster cruising speed, extended range, and increased berthing, among other improvements.[9] However, the National Science Foundation has recommended that the RV Clifford A. Barnes stay in service through 2016.[10]