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EPA Ocean Survey Vessel Debuts in U.S. Virgin Islands -- Open to Public for First Time Ever

Release Date: 01/23/2006
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(#06003) U.S. Virgin Islands -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will welcome its new Ocean Survey Vessel, the OSV BOLD to the Caribbean next week. EPA will open its 224-foot research flagship to the public in both St. Thomas and St. Croix. When docked, scientists will lead guided tours of the ship and its equipment. In the coming weeks, the ship will be operating off the coast of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

"We are delighted to welcome the OSV BOLD and its crew to the waters of the Caribbean. During her stay here scientists will use her to take samples and conduct surveys," said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. "The OSV BOLD is EPA's flagship and our floating lab. This is a great opportunity for the public to get a firsthand look at how we protect the ocean and coastal waters."

The vessel will be open to the general public on Feb. 6 in St. Thomas and on Feb. 8 in St. Croix. Specific times and venue details will be announced in the near future. The OSV BOLD is equipped with state-of-the-art sampling, mapping, and analysis equipment including side scan sonar, underwater video, water sampling instruments, and sediment sampling devices, which scientists use in a wide variety of ocean monitoring activities. The vessel is a converted U.S. Navy T-AGOS class vessel and is 224 feet long and 43 feet wide. EPA acquired the OSV BOLD on March 31, 2004. The ship can house up to 18 scientists, 19 crew members and remain at sea for weeks as they collect water quality and sediment samples, fish, and other organisms. EPA divers working off the OSV BOLD monitor coral reefs, and other sensitive habitats for impacts from pollution. The OSV BOLD operates in the waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. One of its recent missions was to conduct environmental monitoring in support of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina.

During OSV BOLD Caribbean operations, EPA scientists will study dredged material ocean disposal sites and assess recreational fishing habitats and coral reef. EPA scientists and divers will also take samples of bottom sediment and inventory sensitive reef habitats. The OSV BOLD will work with the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) to conduct side scan sonar surveys off the coast of St. John to monitor coral reef conditions off the coast of St. Croix. The monitoring and mapping data will be employed to protect the natural habitat and EPA scientists will transfer their knowledge and methods to local scientists. Continued collaboration with DPNR and the scientific community will help us advance our understanding of the ocean and help us protect coastal waters.

For more information on the OSV BOLD, please visit To learn more about EPA's work in the U.S. Virgin Islands, visit: