2023 Annual Report
A white research vessel sailing in greenish-blue water with blue, cloudy sky visible in the background and green waves crashing on a sandy beach in the foreground.

MBARI’s former flagship research vessel is now a sailing classroom inspiring students to pursue careers in ocean science and engineering. Image: Todd Walsh © 2023 MBARI

Former flagship starts its next chapter

In 2023, MBARI’s former flagship research vessel, the Western Flyer, embarked upon a new mission: inspiring a new generation of ocean explorers.

Constructed in 1996, the R/V Western Flyer represented David Packard’s vision of developing innovative new platforms to explore the ocean. After 25 years and more than 500 research cruises, the Western Flyer completed its final MBARI mission in 2022. With construction of a new state-of-the-art research vessel underway, MBARI granted the ship to the University of South Florida, which hosts the Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO), for use as a sailing classroom.

The FIO team is using the Western Flyer to create an innovative model for ocean science education. The new Peerside program provides opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds and experiences to learn more about careers in ocean science, engineering, and marine operations.

Welcoming new members to our team

New staff join the MBARI team to further our work in ocean exploration and engineering.