Moss Point Keel Laying

Shipbuilder Halter Marine Inc. in Moss Point held a keel laying ceremony Monday for a research vessel being built for the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration The ship, to be commissioned in 2004 and named the Oscar Dyson, is to be stationed in Kodiak, Alaska. Its mission will be to monitor the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska ecosystems.

The Oscar Dyson is the first of four fishery survey vessels that Halter Marine has been contracted to build for NOAA. ``The ship will be an extremely sophisticated, acoustically quiet research platform with state-of-the-art technology,'' said NOAA Rear Adm. Evelyn Fields, director of the NOAA Commissioned Corps and Office of Marine and Aviation Operations.

Halter Marine was awarded a $38.3 million contract to design and build the Oscar Dyson. The ship will cost more than $55 million when fully outfitted.