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Atlantis II returns to Woods Hole after 11 years
By The Bahamas Weekly Press Service
Aug 15, 2007 - 12:07:19 AM

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The Atlantis II arrives at the Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) dock in Woods Hole, MA. on August 9th, 2007.

  Woods Hole, MA. The gleaming white and black 210-foot research vessel, Atlantis II sailed majestically into Woods Hole on August 9, 2007 for the first time in eleven years to the delight and amazement of the staff of their Oceanographic Institution.   The Atlantis II was retired by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (W.H.O.I.) in 1996 and was sold to a private party. She sat idle in New Orleans, slowly decaying for ten long years and just when she was about to be sold as scrap metal, the Atlantis II was saved by Mr. Gordon Hunsucker, owner of the travel adventure company Outlander Expeditions in the fall of 2006.   A major refit began there in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and after two and half months she sailed under her own power to Grand Bahama Island for additional work at the Grand Bahama Shipyard.  After an eight month refit in The Bahamas the vessel now looks better than ever and is ready to do again what it was meant to, exploration and research anywhere in the world.

The Atlantis II was re-christened in the Freeport Harbour before leaving The Bahamas on July 18th, 2007.   As far as anyone was concerned this vessel was dead to the world – never to sail again.   No one knew that similar to the mythological Phoenix rising from a fiery death, she too had been reborn.  

The inaugural voyage, which left Grand Bahama on the eve of August 2nd with a crew of sixteen, had only one destination in mind, Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institution, the organization the Atlantis II was built for in 1962.  She has returned home!

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WHOI employees tour the bridge of the Atlantis II

W.H.O.I. employees and associates were given the opportunity to tour the vessel on Friday, August 10th, which was an educational exchange for those on board (four of which are children on their first voyage at sea – and perhaps the first children to travel aboard), and those touring the Atlantis II for the first time.   Scientists and crew from Atlantis II history shared stories, described how rooms were previously used, and took many photos of the restored vessel.   Tours continued off and on throughout their stay at the W.H.O.I. dock until August 15thwith many veterans bringing memorabilia on board to share with the owner of the Atlantis II.  RV Knorr arrived back to Woods Hole on Monday, August 13th and it was said that it had been many, many years since both vessels were on the same dock.   Reciprocal tours were given for crew from both vessels.

The Atlantis II boasts a 33-year career, and has given countless contributions to oceanographic science, logging over a million miles at sea.   She was one of the first vessels to have female crew and scientists.   Atlantis II is most famous for her visit to the wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic where the submersible Alvin made twelve dives to view the wreck with the help of remotely operated deep-sea imaging systems while the world looked on.  

Her new owner, Outlander Expeditions, has a new mission in mind for her.  Aside from continuing to do the work she was built for (exploration and research), this time around she will be taking aboard tourists for a unique travel adventure experience.   The average person, from anywhere in the world, will now be able to join in on every aspect of their adventures.

Gordon Hunsucker, founder and owner of Outlander Expeditions, shares how the idea came about,

 “I can remember watching TV when I was a kid, and seeing all these things that were happening around the world, as far away as Egypt, and people were finding remains of ancient cities, recovering treasure off the coasts of Florida, and so on. I remember thinking how cool it would be to be a part of something like that. But at the time, there weren’t any opportunities to do so. “

He continues,

“You don’t have to be satisfied with watching adventure and discovery on the screen, or by reading about it in a book.   Now you can live the adventure and be a part of every aspect of the experience. It’s an amazing feeling to feel the thrill and adventure of discovery. The only thing missing is the theme music.”

Most of the ships core structure and operating equipment is the same, but now added to her original amenities are a full workout gym, the Explorers Lounge with bar and wide flat-screen TV, an expanded dining room with fireplace, a retail store, and a first-class dive locker that can fit up to sixty divers.   State-of-the art technologically advanced equipment has been added to further enhance her exploratory capabilities.

The Atlantis II is again ready to sail the oceans of the world.   The spirit of adventure lives on in this great ship, as she will once again explore and make new discoveries.    Despite her incredible past, the best is yet to come!

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© Copyright 2007 by thebahamasweekly.com

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