February 23, 2018  

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Gulf Coast Research Laboratory Receives Research Vessel from EPA

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Pictured left to right: Phyllis Graham, Property Utilization Officer – EPA; Daphen R. Wallis, Property Accountability Officer – EPA; Donald O. Fortson, Property Management Officer – EPA; Gordon Cannon, Vice President for Research – USM; Ben Scaggs, Director, Gulf of Mexico Program Office – EPA; and Eric Powell, Director, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. (Submitted photo)

The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) at The University of Southern Mississippi became the new owners of the research vessel R/V Tom McIlwain during a ceremony held June 19 in Ocean Springs, Miss. The vessel was transferred to GCRL from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Those on hand for the transfer included: GCRL Director Dr. Eric Powell and USM Vice President for Research, Dr. Gordon Cannon representing the University; Ben Scaggs, Director of the EPA’s Gulf of Mexico Program Office; Donald O. Fortson, EPA Property Management Officer; Phyllis Graham, EPA Property Utilization Officer; and Daphen Willis, EPA Property Accountability Officer representing the EPA.

The R/V Tom McIlwain is a 55-foot fiberglass vessel, which carries a crew of two and a maximum of 30 adult passengers. The vessel was built by Westport Boat Builders of Westport, Wash., and served as a U.S. Navy mine survey vessel before becoming part of the GCRL fleet in 2000 as a loan from the Navy. The EPA later acquired the vessel from the Navy and has now transferred ownership to GCRL. 

The R/V McIlwain serves as GCRL primary research and educational vessel. The vessel is used in inshore waters for sampling, long lining for sharks and deploying a variety of data gathering instrumentation. The R/V McIlwain also sees considerable service as a transport vessel for taking students to educational visits on the offshore barrier island.

The R/V Tom McIlwain is named for the late Dr. Tom McIlwain, an esteemed fisheries researcher and former director of GCRL. The primary role of the McIlwain has been transporting Summer Field Program students to the islands for fieldwork and for conducting inshore fisheries projects like the long line shark study.

To learn more about the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, call 228.872.4200 or visit: http://www.usm.edu/gcrl/