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Haul-Outs Happen

The heart and soul of MSI operations, our “floating classroom” R/V Robert G. Brownlee, will be hauled out for its required biennial maintenance at the end of this summer. The regular maintenance schedule and upgrades are required by the U.S. Coast Guard to keep the ship safe and operating efficiently. Saltwater from the bay causes steel to rust and slowly deteriorate. The ship’s underwater hull, most vulnerable to water damage (e.g. rust), will be power-washed and fully coated (painted and sealed) to prepare it for another two years of safe passage for scientists-in-training. By cleaning the growth off the hull, drag will be reduced and fuel efficiency will be increased. Anodes will be installed that will attract and retain saltwater corrosion, so that it won’t cause damage to the hull. Finally, a galvanic isolator system will be installed to stop ship- and land-generated electrical current from weakening the hull. All work is necessarily performed to U.S. Coast Guard requirements.

Research Vessel Robert G. Brownlee

The Brownlee is a remarkable ship. Like no other, it was specifically designed for the unique conditions of the San Francisco Bay and for the educational needs of the young scientists who explore the bay. The vessel was put into service in 1998 and has learning space to accommodate up to 70 students. On board, students use a variety of research equipment to explore Bay life. By sailing to ports in San Francisco, Richmond, and Antioch, we bring science to the students’ nearby waterways thus reducing school transportation costs and travel time.


August 18 – 21: Dry dock blocks and gangway are custom-built.

August 22 - September 2: Boat voyages to Richmond CA, hauled out and placed in dry dock.

Pressure-washing performed; hull and forepeak coatings performed; anodes, transducers and galvanic isolator system installed; tail shaft and rudder bearing clearance readings taken; boat is painted. Inspections are performed. Boat is launched. Boat voyages back to Redwood City.

Proposed outcomes for the Ship Haul-out Project:

1. Ship’s hull is clean, sealed and painted.

2. Zinc anodes are inspected and replaced.

3. Port and starboard tail shaft and rudder bearing readings reported.

4. New transducers are in place.

5. New Galvanic Isolator System is in place.

Method of Evaluation:

Evaluations of the ship haul-out work will be performed while it is still in dry dock. First phase of evaluation is a visual inspection of the hull coatings, and the proper installation of the anodes, transducers and galvanic isolator system. This is performed by our ship’s captain. The ship’s final evaluation is performed by the U.S. Coast Guard. They perform a formal inspection of the work according to the terms of the USCG 5-Year Certificate of Inspection (COI) that is due this year. Upon receipt of the COI, we are eligible to renew our

For-Hire Vessel Operator’s License.

In the August 2016 Brownlee haul-out, we planned for some important upgrades. In the process, we discovered and responded to several unanticipated repairs. The bill came to an outstanding $96,000!

Our goal is to raise $100,000 for the Boat Haul-Out Campaign by August 31

Show your love for the Brownlee donate today!

To donate online, click here It’s safe and secure.

Have more questions about this year's haul-out, contact Melanie at or 650-364-2760 x14


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