Registered in the US, the vessel is dedicated to oceanographic science research –that entails the sampling of seawater and marine life for close study – which teaches people about the ocean and traditional sail training.
The ship is one of two tall ship scientific research vessels operated by the United States-based Sea Education Association (SEA).
Captain Chris Nolan has commanded the ship for four years. There are 40 people on board including 21 students from Stanford University (who also help out with crewing) and three professors.
“We sail as much as we can… there were no storms during this trip, just rain,” said Nolan.
“We retrace the same voyage every two years –this is important, to repeat tracks to understand the ocean.”
A typical day would be to stop twice a day, put the equipment over the side of the boat with the students collecting the data.
In port for only two days, the SSV Robert C. Seamans departed Rarotonga on Wednesday afternoon laden with cargo destined for Palmerston Island.
The ship will then head for Tongatapu, ending its voyage in Pago Pago where they rotate the crew – a new captain and intake of students then take over.
The vessel is named after former Secretary of the Air Force and NASA Deputy Administrator Robert Channing Seamans. She is 40 metres long and weighs 2020 tons.
Throughout the year, the ship hosts educational semester and summer voyages throughout the Pacific Ocean.
This is her second visit to Rarotonga.