Open Ocean Aquaculture Work and Research Transport Project

Primary tabs

Project Type: 

Students Involved:

Seth Davis University of New Hampshire
Shane Hall UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering
Ben Nichols UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering
Vincent Puleo UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Advisors:

M. Robinson Swift UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering

Currently, there are three vessels in use by the Open Ocean Aquaculture Project at the University of New Hampshire. Unfortunately, none of these vessels meets the full operational needs of the project. These operations include fish farming maintenance off the Isles of Shoals, deploying and servicing a variety of marine equipment, and conducting a variety of research excursions.

To solve this problem, the Open Ocean Work and Research Aquatic Transport Project (OOWRAT) was created to design a new vessel to meet these needs. The final design made by the OOWRAT team, named The Shoals Runner, implements a fiberglass reinforced hull, which minimizes weight and operating costs. The Shoals Runner has a top speed of 25 knots and a cruising speed of 20 knots, making it a faster and more reliable vessel than those currently available. There is also an abundance of deck space, allowing for more work to be done in a safe and efficient manner.

The goal of this project is to design a vessel that combines low price with functionality. The cost of the boat must not exceed $1,000,000. A functional and safe diving platform must be implemented and an articulating deck crane and A-frame are part of the design, making the vessel capable of lifting up to six tons. The deck on the designed Shoals Runner is large enough for full classes to be taught on board and to store all necessary equipment for offshore fish farming. There is also a raised pilothouse with room for seven occupants.

The current research vessel, the Gulf Challenger, is very capable, but it lacks in certain areas. It is constructed of marine grade aluminum, which is expensive to build and costly to repair. Aluminum hulls are also heavier than fiberglass hulls. The layout of the deck on the Gulf Challenger is impractical due to a centrally located pilothouse. The dive deck does not allow for easy re-entry onto the boat, which leads to lost time and possible injuries. The Shoals Runner design features a hull form with high bow flare and a flat stem, which creates minimal wave friction and excellent stability. The overall length of 51.5 feet is similar to that of the Gulf Challenger. The beam is 18 feet and it has a draft of 3.5 feet. It features a single 950 hp diesel engine for propulsion, and a 200 hp four-cylinder diesel to power all on board hydraulics. To assist with maneuverability a 60 hp hydraulically powered bow thruster is being used.

The Shoals Runner is the ideal work vessel that incorporates all of the necessary functions needed to manage the fish farm at the Isles of Shoals. The total cost of the vessel is approximately $600,000, far less than the desired maximum. With its speed and power, this vessel will be able to service all technical needs for most any marine project.


Available from the National Sea Grant Library (use NHU number to search) or NH Sea Grant


  • Open ocean aquaculture work and research transport project (OOWRAT) (2004). Seth Davis, Shane Hall, Ben Nichols and Vincent Puleo. Advisor: M. Robinson Swift.