Bad Times For Deep-Scientist May Mean Good Times For the Deep

Rising gas prices may have one more causality, one you many not have thought of…oceanographic science. Our main tool is the research vessel, large contraptions we use to steam across the vast oceans collecting data. The R/V New Horizon from Scripps take 39,000 gallons of marine diesel. Currently diesel in California is at an average of $4.97 per gallon. So to fill up that is going to take $193,830.00. How many gallons of fuel does a ship go through each day? On the larger ships it can be 4,000 to 4,500 gallons of fuel a day.

Can I pay for that in monthly installments?

Just a year ago it was $75, 270 to fill up.

“Our fuel costs are now more than half our total costs” for ship operations, said Tom Althouse, Scripps’ marine superintendent, who oversees the fleet’s day-to-day performance.

The good news may be that rising prices for diesel will also lower trawling of the oceans.

6 Replies to “Bad Times For Deep-Scientist May Mean Good Times For the Deep”

  1. This is actually my biggest concern about fossil fuels. I think terrestrially, we can adapt. But can we adapt for the transportation of goods across the oceans? Working from home, bicycle, buses…I think we’ll find a way, but ships can’t use electric or hydrogen, they need fossil fuels or nuclear. So unless we create super super nuclear tankers, we’re screwed. As for ocean sciences, I only hope that the drive towards ocean observatories, AUV’s, etc, can offset the costs of ships. We’re a decade (arguably) behind the visions of those networks though, so we’ll see where it leaves us. That is why I’m taking my PhD in oceanography and trying to get into management consulting :) .

  2. “The good news may be that rising prices for diesel will also lower trawling of the oceans.”

    Ever the optimist. They’ll just trawl harder and deeper and their catch will cost more.

  3. Eeek! DSN is how I find out about the likely death of my ship time proposal? *gently weeps* Then again, I’m all for a return to the glorious Age of Sail. Perhaps the new Beagle is only the first of a mighty fleet…

  4. One silver lining on this is that some research vessels, like Duke’s RV Cape Hatteras, are being set up to run on used veggie oil, which marine diesels are more than tough enough to handle.

    though a 40,000 gallon tank of fryer grease doesn’t sound like something I want to be down wind of.

  5. Oy! If that (fryer grease smell) wont help with feeding the fish I don’t know what will.

    Miriam I think you’re right…I’m all for it. I can still tow a video array from a sail ship..but position holding for tending a submersible may be a bit tricky!

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