UH renames, blesses research vessel Kaunānā

The University of Hawai‘i (UH) accepted the marine vessel American Discovery late in 2021 as a donation from Foss Maritime. Recently, the vessel was renamed in consultation with Puakea Nogelmeier, professor emeritus of Hawaiian Language at UH Mānoa, and a blessing was conducted to commemorate and set intentions for the next chapter of the ship’s service.

The newly named Kaunānā is a 40-foot aluminum-hulled catamaran workboat that UH will convert into a research vessel for science and engineering as well as to support marine education and outreach. 

“There is great interest in the UH research community in using the vessel for this purpose and we are beginning the transformation of the ship into a research platform,” said Anita L. Lopez, director of research vessel operations at the UH Marine Center.

“In renaming the boat, we wanted to invoke the theme of ‘discovery’ so, with Puakea’s guidance we selected the name R/V Kaunānā,” said Chip Fletcher, interim Dean of the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, who’s faculty and students will be among the primary users of the vessel.

Kumu Keola Kalani, cultural practitioner and teacher of Hawaiian studies and fine arts at Aiea High School, performed a Hawaiian blessing earlier this month at the UH Marine Center.

UH Marine Center personnel are currently working to return the vessel to service. Soon the team will drydock and repaint the vessel with the hull being “UH Mānoa Green.” 

Once renovations are complete, R/V Kaunānā will begin operating throughout the main Hawaiian Islands supporting coastal research. The initial projects planned for the vessel include installation and maintenance of buoys to monitor ocean acidification and the deployment and recovery of listening platforms that monitor shark movements in local waters. 

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