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23 May 2001                                                            

San Francisco Bar Pilots donate ship to MBARI

The San Francisco Bar Pilots Association, at a media event in San Francisco today, is turning over the pilot vessel (P/V) SAN FRANCISCO to MBARI. The 26-meter-long ship will be converted from pilot vessel to research vessel (R/V) by MBARI over the next few months for its new role in oceanographic missions in the Monterey Bay. MBARI plans to use the vessel—to be rechristened the R/V Zephyr—as the primary support ship for its autonomous underwater vehicles program.

"MBARI is extremely grateful to the Bar Pilots for this generous donation. The P/V SAN FRANCISCO is a most worthy ship, well-suited to its new career in ocean exploration," said Dr. Marcia McNutt, MBARI President and CEO.

"The P/V SAN FRANCISCO has served the pilots and maritime industry well for close to 30 years. We are pleased that she will stay in California waters serving MBARI," 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 12 miles 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,