‘Harold Heath’ is back in the water

CSU Monterey Bay’s new research vessel, the Harold Heath, was launched on May 16 after three months of extensive work in dry dock.

Santa Cruz attorney Paul Meltzer donated the 46-foot Hatteras sport fishing yacht to the university last December. The boat was renamed “Harold Heath” in honor of Mr. Meltzer’s great-grandfather, a marine scientist and Stanford University professor.

Harold Heath is launched at Moss Landing HarborWith the refitting – which included mounting sonar devices and other equipment – the vessel is ready for use by CSUMB’s Seafloor Mapping Lab (SFML), where it will support marine research, training and education. It is also equipped to support remotely operated vehicles and habitat survey work done by the university’s Institute for Applied Marine Ecology.

After the launch in Moss Landing Harbor, finishing touches were added in preparation for the SFML’s field season this summer.

That work involves mapping the last remaining section of state waters, along the southern Big Sur coast. “Because of the remote nature of this part of the coast, the work will require that we spend four or five days at a time at sea,” said Rikk Kvitek, a professor in the Division of Science and Environmental Policy and director of the lab.

“The Hatteras – which can accommodate a crew of five for extended stays at sea – is ideal for this work.”

The SFML has been instrumental in the ongoing California Seafloor Mapping Project, an effort to create the first comprehensive, high-resolution map of California’s state waters – from the shoreline out three nautical miles. The project involves industry, resource management agencies and universities. Final products will include a series of maps showing the seafloor and coastal geology in unprecedented detail.

Once the seafloor mapping project is finished, the boat will be used as a base for launching smaller vessels, like jet skis, rigged with video equipment and other devices to conduct further research near coastlines and other hard-to-reach spots.

To learn more about the Seafloor Mapping Lab at CSUMB, click here.

To learn about CSUMB’s new degree program in marine science, click here.