GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - On Friday, the University of Southern Mississippi celebrated the acquisition of the Point Sur at the Port of Gulfport. University officials hope the research vessel will attract some of the brightest students to USM. We caught up with educators to find out what the vessel will offer those students.
"To be able to have a ship to be able to go do the research to bring the graduate students out with us is pretty phenomenal. So it's a very good day for USM," said Interim Director of Gulf Coast Research Lab Monty Graham.
Dozens of people gathered at the Port of Gulfport to celebrate USM's fifth and newest research vessel. School officials say the new vessel will offer students several new opportunities.
"We've got some other research vessels, nothing like this. This is an oceanographic class vessel. So it's an attractor for us to do research. And it's going to be an attractor for students. It's going to be great for student recruitment," said Graham.
"So as we look at not only bringing in the best and brightest minds, we want to make sure that this water, after the spill of five years ago is protected not only now, but generations to come. That's going to take constant monitoring for 50, 60 years. This vessel will help us do that," said Governor Phil Bryant.
The celebration also allowed people to take a tour of all parts of the boat such as the wheel house, science lab and sleeping quarters. On the Point Sur students will learn marine science, coastal sciences and hydrographic science, which is underwater surveying. But most of all students will learn how to live and work at sea.
"For us, this is sort of a closing of the loop, if you will, of actually getting this vessel home here in Gulfport. And we can't wait to have Gulfport, Mississippi painted on the back of this boat," said USM President Dr. Rodney Bennett.
From an economic standpoint, Governor Bryant says the Point Sur can be temporarily leased by industries associated with the ocean, like the seafood or energy industries.