Research ship to study plate tectonics on maiden voyage

SAN DIEGO -- The scientific research vessel R/V Sally Ride was commissioned Friday in a ceremony on the downtown San Diego waterfront.

The 238-foot-long ship, owned by the Navy and operated by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will also be open for free tours this weekend at the Broadway Pier. UC San Diego students, faculty and staff will be allowed aboard Saturday, and the public will be invited Sunday -- from noon to 4 p.m. both days.

The Sally Ride, named after the first American woman in space, is scheduled to embark on its maiden research mission next month when it conducts a study of the California Current. The study, ongoing for 60 years, will document the interplay between marine life and its environment, along with ocean dynamics set into motion by human activities.

The ship will also collect information on coastal tectonic plates with the hope that the knowledge will help predict earthquakes.

The vessel was built in Anacortes, Washington, and delivered to Scripps last month. The commissioning ceremony will not be open to the public.

Those wishing to tour the Sally Ride this weekend should bring identification and wear flat closed-toe, closed-heel shoes. Boarding and moving about the ship requires the use of stairs.