Skip to main content

A new life for an old ship

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced it will be retiring Rude (pronounced “Rudy”), one of their most valuable survey ships, back to its homeport of Norfolk, Va., according to a report in Newsday.

The 90-foot ship was built in 1967 at Jakobson Shipyard in Oyster Bay, N.Y., and has since become well-known to mariners around Long Island and New England as it surveyed the entire coastal area for navigational charts, according to the report.

Rude gained fame when its crew located the wreckage of TWA Flight 800 in 1996 in the Atlantic Ocean. An explosion on board shortly after takeoff brought the plane down near East Moriches, N.Y., killing all 230 people on board.

In 1999, Rude located the private plane flown by John F. Kennedy Jr. that crashed near Martha’s Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast, according to the report.

“It’s kind of the little ship that could,” said retired Rear Admiral Sam DeBow, commanding officer of the Rude during the TWA flight search. “She was one of our smaller vessels and she had a major impact.”

The ship will be replaced by 124-foot Ferdinand R. Hassler, named after a NOAA founder. The Hassler is currently being built in Mississippi and will be based in New Castle, N.H. Plans call for Rude to be used by another environmental group, possibly the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the report.

— Elizabeth Ellis