UNOLS pressed its case hard, and finally, in July 2009, the Navy announced that it had budgeted $176 million for two identical Ocean Class research ships, not four as planned in 2002.
Most of the time, oceanographers at UNOLS institutions work together collegially.
For institutions that do a lot of oceanography, there are several reasons to want to operate at least one UNOLS vessel.
The UNOLS community has contributed to the design of this vessel, whose time line appears in the figure opposite below.
Most recently, with NSF support, UNOLS conducted the "Workshop to Assess the Future Vessel and Facility Needs of Coastal Marine Science" in February 1993.
Another major factor in coastal vessel design is the cost of operation, as most coastal research projects are relatively "poor" and cannot afford to pay the cost of larger research vessels, even though in many instances large and intermediate UNOLS vessels are fully capable of doing the work.
The UNOLS fleet is the best in the world, providing the nation's oceanographers access to the sea both globally and regionally, and it is vitally important that members of the ocean science community begin to work now on maintaining that capability for the 21st century.
UNOLS is also well-served in the area of deep (1,000 meters and more) submergence.
The scope of the Knorr/Melville conversion effort was defined by representatives of the operating institutions (WHOI and SIO) and ONR with inputs from NSF, UNOLS, and the user community.
The UNOLS Fleet Improvement Committee (FIC), with major inputs from potential users, wrote a series of scientific mission requirement statements that were used by Navy officials to compose documents that led to awarding of a contract to Halter Marine Inc.
This effort was vetted by the UNOLS Fleet Improvement Committee and supported, at a fixed cost of $3 million each by NSF, owner of these ships.
In 1996, the Scripps ship New Horizon was overhauled, completing the UNOLS intermediate-class modernization.