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29 August 2001

MBARI christens its newest
 research vessel, Zephyr

The San Francisco Bar Pilots Association recently donated the pilot vessel (P/V) SAN FRANCISCO to MBARI. The 26-meter-long ship has been converted from pilot vessel to research vessel (R/V) for her new role in oceanographic missions in the Monterey Bay. MBARI plans to use the vessel—rechristened the R/V Zephyr on September 4th—as the primary support ship for its autonomous underwater vehicle program.

zephyrharbor-9x6.jpg (44339 bytes)
Photo by Todd Walsh © 2001 MBARI. Click on image for a larger version.



"With a fresh coat of paint and some scientific sensors, the pilot boat SAN FRANCISCO has now been transformed into the research vessel Zephyr. Plans have already been made for her first missions deploying autonomous underwater vehicles for research in Monterey Bay. MBARI is most appreciative of the generosity of the San Francisco Bar Pilots Association in providing us with this new research platform," said Dr. Marcia McNutt, MBARI President and CEO.

"For nearly thirty years the pilot vessel SAN FRANCISCO maintained station, in fair and foul weather, twelve miles beyond the Golden Gate Bridge to board pilots on and off ships calling at ports on San Francisco Bay and its tributaries. As she embarks on a new career as an ocean research vessel for MBARI, we are proud to be a part of her history and pleased to know that she is going on to serve an organization with a truly remarkable mission," said Captain Peter McIsaac, President of the San Francisco Bar Pilots.

The San Francisco Bar Pilots, established in 1835, is the oldest continuously operating private enterprise in California. One of the first acts of the first California legislature of 1849 recognized the importance of safe navigation into and out of California’s ports and codified a system of state pilotage. There are currently 62 San Francisco Bar Pilots. At all times, in all weather, the pilots maintain a station boat near the "SF" buoy 20 kilometers west of the Golden Gate to board pilots onto and off of nearly 8,500 vessels a year. Between this rugged spot in the open sea and the mouth of the Golden Gate lies the enormous, horseshoe-shaped sand bar that gives the Bar Pilots their name. For nearly 30 years, the P/V SAN FRANCISCO took her place on station, alternating a four-day watch with the pilots’ second station boat.


MBARI contact: Debbie Meyer, (831) 775-1807,
Bar Pilots contact: Fran Black, (415) 362-0941,