R/V Bellows (Retired)

Research Vessel (R/V) Bellows is homeported on Bayboro Harbor at the University of South Florida (USF) College of Marine Science, St. Petersburg Campus. Her mission is to provide a seagoing platform for oceanographic and marine science education and research at sea.

For more than 45 years since its acquisition in 1972, the R/V Bellows has worked along the Florida estuaries and coastlines: securing her place in ocean science history in the 2005 expedition to Pulley Ridge, in which she is recognized for being the first vessel to discover the deepest reef powered by sunlight in the United States.

Pulley Ridge, the nation's deepest photosynthetic reef, was found 100 miles west of Key West in water about 60 to 90 meters below the surface. The data from mapping, along with collecting sediment and algae samples, helped scientists trace the reef's origins to ancient submerged barrier islands. Working as one of five vessels on the massive exploration project, the Bellows was used to conduct remotely operated vehicle and side-scan work on the examination of the reef.

R/V Bellows is capable of mapping the hard bottom with sidescan sonar of unexplored paleoshoreline structures in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, it is one of the few specialized vessels equipped for this type of scientific work.

The R/V Bellows transects the Gulf, the Florida Keys and Bahamas providing answers to questions about ocean geology, red tide movement and was called into action collecting contaminated water and sediment samples from the Deepwater Horizon spill oil. In addition, during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill she played a critical role gathering baseline data along Florida's coast to compare future impact from the oil.

A dedicated crew of 4 can accommodate 10 scientists for about 8 days. The boat is equipped with water samplers, a current profiler, and an echo-sounder which is used by scientists to conduct seafloor surveys. Bellow's winches include electrical wires to collect real-time data from towed underwater instruments. Equipment can be deployed using the U-frame on the stern or by a starboard A-frame.

Crew: Capt. David Coy, Asst. Capt. Billy Coker, Engineer Matt Clark, Chef Patrick Foster

Research and Educate

R/V Bellows in the news