NOAA Ship Rainier (S 221) is an American survey vessel in commission with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) since 1970. Prior to her NOAA service, she was in commission in the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey as USC&GS Rainier (MSS 21) from 1968 to 1970. She is named for Mount Rainier in the state of Washington and is the sister ship of NOAAS Fairweather and the decommissioned NOAAS Mount Mitchell.

NOAA Ship Rainier.jpg
NOAAS Rainier (S 221)
Flag of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey.svgUnited States Coast and Geodetic Survey
Name: USC&GS Rainier
Namesake: Mount Rainier in Washington
Builder: Aerojet-General Shipyards, Jacksonville, Florida
Launched: March 1967
Acquired: April 1968 (delivered)
Commissioned: 2 October 1968
Identification: (MSS 21)
Fate: Transferred to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 3 October 1970
NOAA Flag.svgNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Name: NOAAS Rainier
Namesake: Previous name retained
Acquired: Transferred from U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey 3 October 1970
Homeport: Newport, Oregon
Nickname(s): "The Love Boat"
Status: Active
General characteristics
Class and type: Fairweather-class hydrographic survey ship
Type: S1-MT-63a
Displacement: 1,800 tons
Length: 70.4 m (231 ft 0 in)
Beam: 12.8 m (42 ft 0 in) moulded
Draft: 5.18 m (17 ft 0 in) maximum
Installed power: 2,400 shp (1.8 MW)
Propulsion: Two 1,200 hp (0.89 MW) General Motors geared diesel engines, 2 shafts, 107,000 US gallons (410,000 L) fuel; one 200 hp (0.15 MW) Detroit Diesel/Bird Johnson geared through-hull bow thruster
Speed: 12 to 13 knots (22 to 24 km/h) (cruising)
Range: 5,898 nautical miles (10,923 km)
Endurance: 22 days
Boats & landing
craft carried:
Five survey launches, two small open boats, one fast rescue boat.
Complement: 49 (10 NOAA Corps officers, 4 licensed engineers, and 35 other crew members), plus up to 4 scientists[1]
Notes: Ice-strengthened hull; 300 kilowatts electrical power plus 75-kilowatt emergency generator

Construction and commissioningEdit

Rainier was built as a "medium survey ship" (MSS) for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey at the Aerojet-General Shipyards in Jacksonville, Florida. She was launched in March 1967, delivered to the Coast and Geodetic Survey in April 1968, and commissioned on 2 October 1968 as USC&GS Rainier (MSS 21) in a joint ceremony with her sister ship USC&GS Fairweather at the Pacific Marine Center in Seattle, Washington.[2] When NOAA was formed on 3 October 1970 and took over the Coast and Geodetic Survey's assets, she became a part of the NOAA fleet as NOAAS Rainier (S 221).

NOAAS Rainier with her namesake, Mount Rainier, in the background.

Rainier's ice-hardened hull is 231 feet (70 m) long. She has 79 bunk spaces. Capacity for 59 people to eat at the same time can be found in the three mess rooms and officer's wardroom. Rainier is the only NOAA ship with an actual wardroom. She carries a complement of 53, consisting of 10 NOAA Corps officers, four licensed engineers, and 39 other crew members, and seven of the crew are certified NOAA divers. In addition to her crew, she can accommodate up to four scientists.

The deck equipment features a large crane aft and two bow-mounted fixed cranes. This equipment gives Rainier a lifting capacity of up to 5,000 pounds (2,300 kg). She originally had an A-frame aft, but it was removed during a major refit in 2009–2010 in favor of a Rolls-Royce Moving Vessel Profiler for underway sound velocity determination during mapping missions.

Rainier has one laboratory of 240 square feet (22 m2) to support oceanographic observations and diving operations. The ship has an intermediate-depth Kongsberg EM710 multibeam survey system. She carries four Jensen aluminum survey launches equipped with RESON shallow multibeam systems. She has a fast survey boat for near-shore operations that uses waterjet propulsion, a general support boat, and a Fast Rescue Boat.

The scientific equipment aboard Rainier includes five conductivity, temperature, depth (CTD) sensors and sediment sampling equipment, and she has the capability to tow a sidescan sonar unit or mount one in a fixed position.

NOAA describes Rainier as "the most productive hydrographic platform in the world."[3]

Operational historyEdit

After the fishing vessel Cricket sank in southern Sitka Sound in Southeast Alaska approximately 17 nautical miles (31 km; 20 mi) from Sitka, Alaska, on 10 June 2008 and the two people aboard her abandoned ship in survival suits, Rainier rescued them.[4]

While transiting the Montlake Cut in the Lake Washington Ship Canal in Seattle, Washington, on 16 April 2018, Rainier struck the bottom and a concrete wall.[5] No injuries were reported, but the ship suffered damage to one of her propellers, dents in her hull, and paint scrapes.[5]


External linksEdit

  • "NOAA Ship RAINIER". May 5, 2004. Retrieved May 9, 2006.