NOOA Ship Fairweather.jpg
NOAA Ship Fairweather (S 220)
Flag of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey.svgUnited States
Name: USC&GS Fairweather (MSS 20)
Namesake: Mount Fairweather in Alaska
Builder: Aerojet-General Shipyards, Jacksonville, Florida
Laid down: 12 August 1963
Launched: 15 March 1967
Acquired: January 1968
Commissioned: 2 October 1968
Fate: Transferred to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 3 October 1970
NOAA Flag.svgUnited States
Name: NOAAS Fairweather (S 220)
Namesake: Previous name retained
Acquired: Transferred from U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey 3 October 1970
Decommissioned: 1989
Recommissioned: August 2004
Homeport: Ketchikan, Alaska
Status: Active
General characteristics
Class and type: Fairweather-class oceanographic research ship
Tonnage: 1,591 tons
Displacement: 1,800 tons
Length: 231 ft (70.4 m)
Beam: 42 ft (12.8 m)
Draft: 15.5 ft (4.7 m)
Ice class: A1 ice strengthened
  • 2 Detroit Electro-Motive Diesel engines,
  • twin screw, controllable pitch propellers, 2400 shp
  • Bow Thruster (variable pitch)
  • Bridge Wing Controls (Engines, and Thruster) Port and Stbd
Speed: 12.5 knots
Range: 6,000 nautical miles
Endurance: 22 days
Boats & landing
craft carried:
Four 28ft All-American Marine survey launches, One 23ft Zodiac FRB, One 23ft AMBAR Jet Boat
  • Commissioned Officers: 11
  • Mate: 1
  • Licensed Engineers: 4
  • Crew: 35
  • Scientists: 6 (Max)

NOAA Ship Fairweather (S 220), originally operated by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey as USC&GS Fairweather (MSS 20), is an oceanographic research ship operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Fairweather primarily conducts hydrographic surveys in Alaskan waters, but is considered a multi-mission-capable vessel and has conducted fisheries research cruises. She is the sister ship of the NOAAS Rainier (S 221) and of the retired NOAAS Mount Mitchell (S 222).


NOAAS Fairweather (S 220) in Alaskan waters with Mount Fairweather in the background.

Fairweather is named for Mount Fairweather in Alaska. She was constructed for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey as a "medium survey ship" (MSS) by Aerojet-General Shipyards at Jacksonville, Florida. She was laid down on 12 August 1963[1] and launched on 15 March 1967. The Coast and Geodetic Survey commissioned her as USC&GS Fairweather (MSS 20) in a joint ceremony with her sister ship USC&GS Rainier (MSS 21) at the Pacific Marine Center in Seattle, Washington, on 2 October 1968.[2][3] When NOAA was established on 3 October 1970 and took over the Coast and Geodetic Survey's assets, she became part of the NOAA fleet as NOAAS Fairweather (S 220). Deactivated in 1989, the ship remained inactive at NOAA's Pacific Marine Center in Seattle for thirteen years. In 2002, she began a refit at the Cascade General Shipyard in Portland, Oregon, and she was recommissioned in 2004 to aid with the backlog of critical surveys in Alaskan waters. Her home port is Ketchikan, Alaska.


Fairweather, like all NOAA ships, is operated by commissioned officers of the NOAA Corps and civilian wage mariners. Fairweather has a complement of 51 people, with additional berthing capability for visitors and scientists. The ship generally spends over 150 days per year at sea.

Equipment and Mission

Fairweather has two RESON multibeam echosounders, models 7111ER and 8160. Her four survey launches have with RESON 7125sv multibeam echosounders. In addition, Fairweather can tow an L3/Klein System 5000 sidescan sonar, and her launches can be equipped with additional hull-mounted L3/Klein System 5000 sidescan sonars. These sidescan sonars are used for near-shore Arctic survey operations. Additionally, Fairweather's personnel routinely establish horizontal and vertical control instruments, such as Global Positioning System (GPS) base stations and tide-level measuring devices, in the remote areas in which the ship works. Using this technology, the crew of Fairweather can map the ocean floor fully. These data are primarily used to update NOAA's nautical charts, but are increasingly used in other areas such as tsunami displacement modeling, flood mapping, and the mapping of fish habitats.


  1. ^ Invitation to keel laying of Coast and Geodetic Survey Ship FAIRWEATHER on August 12, 1963
  2. ^ Invitation to joint commissioning ceremony of ESSA Ships FAIRWEATHER and RAINIER on October 2, 1968

External links

Media related to NOAA S 220 Fairweather (ship, 1968) at Wikimedia Commons

  • "NOAA Ship FAIRWEATHER". May 5, 2004. Retrieved May 8, 2007.
  • "About NOAA Ship FAIRWEATHER". May 5, 2006. Retrieved May 8, 2007.