University partners with NOAA to monitor Lake Superior

HOUGHTON — Michigan Tech is partnering up with NOAA for the heavy lifting in a study of Lake Superior.

When Michigan Tech needs a bigger boat, they call NOAA. The partnership between NOAA and the university aids in the long–term monitoring of Lake Superior.

Great Lakes Research Center Director Guy Meadows said, “Specifically, with this boat here, it allows us to do things that are beyond the capabilities of what we can do with Michigan Tech’s fleet of boats. So we bring this boat up because of the partnership with NOAA, out of the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, in order to do things that are longer duration or heavier duty than we typically can do with our own boats.”

The R5501 can venture out into the lake for extended periods of time and it’s been specially equipped with multiple cranes used to lift heavy objects out of the water.

R5501 Captain Daniel Burlingame said, “It was originally a Coast Guard boat, used to tend aids to navigation. NOAA has taken the boat over and turned into a research vessel. We put some different systems on it, removed some of the old Coast Guard systems, and now it’s geared more toward science than just tending buoys.”

This is the fourth year of the partnership and the 55–foot vessel will spend about two weeks helping with the research.