John N. Cobb – Recent Retiree Being Named to The National Register of Historic Places

Mike Schuler
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February 20, 2009

After being decommissioned this past August after 58 years of service, NOAA’s oldest and only wooden research ship that remained in its fleet, the John N. Cobb, will now be named to the National Register of Historic Places.  NOAA tells us:

Following a mandated federal review in March, Cobb will join more than 80,000 places deemed significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. The register lists notable places as diverse as the Brooklyn Bridge and Paul Bunyan statue in Portland, Ore. The register is maintained by the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service.

John N. Cobb leaves behind a rich legacy of fisheries research and maritime traditions that served NOAA and the country well for nearly 60 years,” said Mary Glackin, deputy under secretary for oceans and atmosphere. “Being named to the National Register of Historic Places is an indication of the great maritime history behind the Cobb, the people who served on it, and its importance to America.”

The 93-foot fisheries research vessel was active in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations’ fleet since 1950, spending most of its time in Alaskan waters.  A press release from NOAA on Cobb’s decomissioning states:

“The John N. Cobb has been an extremely productive platform for NOAA. She has been operating with her original 1931-design Fairbanks-Morse engine until this year,” said Rear Admiral Jonathan W. Bailey, director of the NOAA Corps, one of the nation’s seven uniformed services, and NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations. “We are sad to see Cobb go, but it would not be the best use of NOAA’s resources to perform the maintenance and repairs required to keep her in service.”

The John N. Cobb has seen some interesting and unusual sights in its day and is retired with a career full of highlights.  Notable missions include:

*  From 1950 to 1962, Cobb conducted a series of bottomfish and shellfish surveys from southern Oregon to the Arctic Ocean. These early surveys still provide baseline data for current environmental evaluations
* Cobb helped pioneer the use of surface rope trawls, which led to the development of an important long-term data set on the biological and physical factors affecting annual fluctuations in the population strength of specific groups of salmon.
* The Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989 kept Cobb busy for several years supporting evaluations of the effects of the oil spill on the Prince William Sound ecosystem.
* Cobb came to the assistance of two vessels in distress in Alaska — the purse seine vessel Karen Rae in the mid 1990s and the Alaska state ferry Le Conte in 2004.
* Cobb participated in a burial at sea in 1999. The ashes of Dr. Richard Carlson of the Auke Bay Laboratories were spread in the waters of Auke Bay at the wishes of his family.

More from NOAA on the John N Cobb can be found HERE.

Another good article with some interesting information on the John N. Cobb can be found in The Seattle Times HERE.


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