people standing by boat
Kaunānā blessing ceremony.

The University of Hawaiʻi accepted the marine vessel American Discovery late in 2021 as a donation from Foss Maritime. The 40-foot aluminum-hulled catamaran workboat will be converted into a research vessel for science and engineering and will support marine education and outreach.

Recently, the vessel was renamed Kaunānā (meaning “to discover”)in consultation with Puakea Nogelmeier, professor emeritus of Hawaiian language at UH Mānoa. Kumu Keola Kalani, cultural practitioner and teacher of Hawaiian studies and fine arts at ʻAiea High School, performed a Hawaiian blessing in June at the UH Marine Center.

“In renaming the boat, we wanted to invoke the theme of ‘discovery’ so, with Puakea’s guidance we selected the name R/V Kaunānā,” said Chip Fletcher, interim dean of the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, whose faculty and students will be among the primary users of the vessel.

R/V Kaunānā

UH Marine Center personnel are working to return the vessel to service. Soon the team will drydock and repaint the vessel with the hull being “UH Mānoa Green.”

Once renovations are complete, R/V Kaunānā will begin operating throughout the main Hawaiian Islands supporting coastal research.

“There is great interest in the UH research community in using the vessel for this purpose and we are beginning the transformation of the ship into a research platform,” said Anita L. Lopez, director of research vessel operations at the UH Marine Center.

The initial projects planned for the vessel include installation and maintenance of buoys to monitor ocean acidification and the deployment and recovery of listening platforms that monitor shark movements in local waters.

See other stories involving the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.

–By Marcie Grabowski