Navy Research Vessel R/V Petrel Righted and Refloated

May 4, 2023 6:09 PM
R/V Petrel this week in Scotland. Photo via Reddit

The U.S. Navy research vessel that tipped over in a Scotland drydock, injuring 35, has been righted and refloated this week, according to local press reports.

Posts on social media show the drydock at Imperial Dock begin to flood on Sunday and R/V Petrel being positioned by tugs on Tuesday.

The 3,710-ton Petrel violently tipped over in a drydock in Edinburgh on March 22 while under repair after being laid up since 2020. The ship was left at a 45-degree angle in the drydock.
Local health officials said 23 were treated at a local hospital and 12 on the scene, according to the BBC.

The cause of Petrel slipping its supports in the drydock is under investigation from both U.S. and U.K. officials.

A message to the service on the status of the Navy’s investigation by USNI News was not immediately returned.

The Navy bought the ship last year for $12.4 million from the estate of the late Microsoft founder Paul Allen. The ship was part of the Allen-owned oceanography research group Vulcan.

Researchers on Petrel discovered several famous warships sunk during World War II, including the Japanese battleship Hiei, the first Japanese ship sunk by the U.S, destroyer USS Johnson and carrier USS Wasp. In 2017, Petrel found the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis.

R/V Petrel on its side in a Scotland dry dock on March 22, 2023. Photo Via Twitter

The Navy hasn’t outlined what role Petrel will play for the service, but before the Allen team took charge of the ship and modified it for its research role, the ship was designed to monitor underwater infrastructure for oil and pipeline projects.

The U.K. Royal Navy purchased a similar vessel a Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance ship that will play host to a variety of underwater vehicles to survey sensitive underwater cables and infrastructure.

The future RFA Proteus is in the midst of its conversion.

“The Navy Facilities Command…does a lot of work below water. This vessel was earmarked to do cable protection because of dangers to underwater cables. You just saw what happened to the Nordstream pipeline and the Royal Navy just purchased some vessels for this purpose,” Sal Mercogliano, chair of Campbell University’s Department of History, Criminal Justice and Politics told U.K.’s Planet Radio in March.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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