WOODS HOLE, Mass. (AP) — A ship that sailed more than 1.3 million miles in the name of science is back at port for the last time.
The research vessel Knorr is being decommissioned after more than 40 years as the workhorse of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution research fleet. It docked for good Wednesday to fireworks and a cannon salute.
The Cape Cod Times reports (http://bit.ly/1BhFMGb ) that the crew placed handmade farewell signs on the sides of the ship. One banner read: "1,360,630 miles for science." Another said simply: "So long, old girl."
The Knorr will be sold by the Navy, which owns it, and will be replaced next spring by a new $74 million research vessel, the Neil Armstrong.
"It's very sad," said Bob Pickart, a senior Woods Hole scientist who did four tours on the ship. "I've done such great science in such challenging conditions on the Knorr. We're losing this first-class vessel."
Rob Munier, the oceanographic institute's vice president of marine operations, said most research ships are taken out of service after four decades.
Although the Knorr exceeded that by a few years, its patchwork of technology spanning the 1960s to the early 2000s made maintenance tricky, said Kent Sheasley, who has captained the ship since 2006.
Among the challenges Sheasley said the Knorr has weathered: 70-foot waves, hurricanes and arctic ice.
"This is one of the best riding ships in bad weather," Sheasley told the newspaper. "I trust this boat."
Information from: The Cape Cod Times, http://www.capecodonline.com