Navy's high-tech research ship to be named 'Heezen' or 'Coriolis'

As part of a year-long effort to show students the "towering grandeur" of the oceans, the Oceanographer of the Navy has chosen two finalists in a nationwide contest to name its new high-tech research ship.The finalists -- a fifth-grade class at Oak Lawn Elementary School, Cranston R.I., and a group of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at St. Martin's Lutheran School, Annapolis, Md. -- were chosen from more than 1,600 entries.

The research vessel, a T-AGS 60-class survey ship under construction at Moss Point, Miss., is equipped with a sophisticated suite of computers, communications and mission electronic equipment, including advanced depth sounders to help map the floors of the oceans.

Oceanographer and Rear Adm. Paul Tobin said his office, which is responsible for all Navy ocean research, conducted the contest to increase interest in oceanography this year, which is the International Year of the Oceans. Tobin said that in researching a name for the new ship, students would be "naturally led to a variety of maritime and oceanographic subjects of interest."

The nine fifth-graders at Oak Lawn Elementary suggested the Navy name the research ship the USNS Bruce C. Heezen, in honor of an American oceanographer known for his work on plate tectonics and sea floor mapping and who died while diving in the Navy's deep submersible research submarine, the NR1.

The 21 middle school students at St. Martin's suggested the name USNS Coriolis, which refers to the term for shifts in wind that dictate, among other things, changes in weather. The students found the name during their research into explorers, shipbuilding, navigation and naval history.

The winner of the contest will be announced June 5 at a ceremony hosted by Tobin, Navy Secretary John Dalton and Bob Ballard, the oceanographer who "discovered" the wreck of the Titanic.

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