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Updated: October 11, 2023

Newly named research vessel splashes at Southern Maine Community College

boat on water Courtesy / Southern Maine Community College Southern Maine Community College’s new research vessel has technological capabilities such as sonar mapping and acoustic fish detection, designed to prepare students for marine-related careers.

Southern Maine Community College in South Portland has splashed a new marine science training vessel intended to give students on-the-water experience while enhancing the college’s capacity for research and education.

The 28-foot research vessel, named R/V Charlie Hall to honor a longtime marine sciences instructor, replaces the SeaWolf, a boat that had reached the end of its operational life. 

“I’m excited for this boat to help our students learn on a vessel virtually no two-year college has, and very few four-year schools have,” said SMCC Biological Sciences Chair Daniel Moore. “We purchased impactful marine technology for the boat, including a side-scan sonar, a DNA sequencer and a data sonde, all because of a generous anonymous donor.”

Southern Maine Community College is Maine's largest and oldest community college. Founded in 1946, SMCC offers courses at its South Portland and Brunswick campuses, at community satellite locations and online. 

The boat was named for Capt. Charlie Hall, a former marine sciences instructor at Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute, which became Southern Maine Community College in 2003.

Hall, a Maine Maritime Academy graduate, U.S. Navy veteran and Merchant Marine, spent nearly 40 years at SMCC. 

“Charlie was happiest at the helm of a boat,” said Dan Abbott, an architectural and engineering design professor. “His dedication to the college and his love of teaching made it easy to name the boat R/V Charlie Hall.”

A group within the college’s marine science program had been looking for a vessel that would replace the SeaWolf, and last summer arranged the purchase of a vessel made by boatbuilder Terry Jason. A New York native, Jason moved to Maine in 1975 and became known for producing high-quality lobster boats and pleasure craft at his Steuben company, T. Jason Boats. Jason died in 2018. 

He completed the 28-foot boat in 2009. The boat was repowered in 2016 with a Hyundai SeasAll Marine diesel engine.

The boat has top-quality equipment, windows, metal hatches and new technologies, making it an ideal platform with increased capabilities for marine research, said Moore.

An SMCC marine sciences professor, Brian Tarbox, will serve as the boat’s primary captain.

“The new vessel will play a pivotal role in SMCC’s marine science program,” Tarbox said. “Students will gain hands-on experience in boat handling, navigation, water quality assessment, sonar mapping, acoustic fish detection and much more.”

He added, “Students trained on the R/V Charlie Hall will be well-prepared for careers in marine biology, oceanography, environmental consulting, and fisheries management, among many other aquaculture careers.”

SMCC Interim President Tiffanie Bentley said, “The vessel’s versatility and marine research capacity will undoubtedly benefit our students and their long-term goals to continue to build Maine’s thriving aquaculture economy.”

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