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Science at Sea: Meeting Future Oceanographic Goals with a Robust Academic Research Fleet
SHIP TIME COST TRENDS
The primary expenses of research ship operation are crew costs, fuel costs, maintenance and overhaul, technical and shore support, and consumables. These costs for the UNOLS fleet between 2000 and 2008 are shown in Figure 5-1. Crew and fuel costs are the two largest single components of total research vessel operating costs, accounting for approximately 50 percent of total operating costs in this period, although the impact of fuel costs on total costs more than doubled over nine years. While “all other costs” also appears to be a significant factor, it is driven by fleet indirect costs, which are proportional to direct costs. Indirect costs make up between 37 and 46 percent of the category’s costs, while the rest of the category (food, insurance, equipment and supplies, travel, shore facility support, and miscellaneous costs) has individual costs of approximately $3 million or less per year.
The increase in overall UNOLS fleet costs from 2000 to 2008 was not
FIGURE 5-1 Major cost factors for the UNOLS fleet, 2000-2008. The categories listed are crew salaries and benefits (dashed gray line), fuel and lube oil (solid gray line), maintenance and overhaul (small dashed black line), shore support staff (long dashed black line), and all other costs (solid black line). The category of all other costs includes food, insurance, equipment and supplies, travel, shore facility support, indirect costs, and miscellaneous costs. This figure includes both estimated and actual costs from ship proposals. In several cases, total operating costs for individual ships are missing. This is most often the case with Local class vessels, and it is not expected to significantly impact the total costs. The 2008 costs associated with Marcus Langseth are not included (data from the UNOLS Office, 2009).