USM retires the Research Vessel Hermes in Ocean Springs

Today in Ocean Springs, the University of Southern Mississippi held a retirement ceremony for the R/V Hermes which has served as a floating classroom and lab for the past 64 years.

For over 64 years, the research vessel Hermes gave students and scientists the access to hands-on experience in the field for education and research. Gulf Coast Research Laboratory acquired the vessel in 1955 and after many years, the University of Southern Miss decided it was time to part ways with the vessel. Gulf Coast Research Laboratory Director Read Hendon said, “It’s primarily supported our academic program, our summer field program, as well as near shore research, but with a vessel that old, it’s just got to the point where it is not financially feasible to maintain its operation.”

Hendon was a student onboard the research vessel over 20 years ago. “I still vividly recall my first field trips to do coastal science and marine biology, many of those on that vessel.”

After considering several options on what to do with the vessel, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory decided to turn the vessel over to Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks. Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks President Ralph Humphrey said, “This will be our first research laboratory vessel. So, we kind of are excited about it. It has a long history on the Coast, lots of scientists have come through USM and participated onboard. So, that is kind of exciting that it is going to be out there in perpetuity for scientists and fishermen alike to go out there and utilize.”

Before handing off the research vessel to the Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks, the laboratory wanted to keep a couple of key items. “We kept the ship’s wheel, the ship’s bell, and the plaque from Kramer Marine over in Gulfport who retrofit the vessel in the mid-50s and we are going to make that into a display.”

The display will be in the Marine Education Center.

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