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Released April 8, 2005


Hattiesburg- The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory invites former students and instructors to take a cruise down memory lane - or boat channel - during a rechristening celebration for the lab's oldest research vessel.

Since 1955 college students from states all along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers have come to the GCRL and boarded the 38-foot trawler R/V Hermes to learn firsthand about Mississippi's marine environments.

The Hermes Homecoming, a full day of events Saturday, April 16, will celebrate the boat's 50 years of service. A highlight will be the rechristening ceremony in anticipation of the next half century of service.

"For many students, the Hermes was their first boat ride and their first experience with the marine environment," said marine biologist David Burke. Burke has become an authority on the boat, which he suspects is the oldest piece of equipment in continuous use on the state's inventory.

As part of the celebration, Burke will present a look at the vessel's role in the history of the lab, the community and the lives of students and instructors.

"Although it would be a romantic notion to suppose that the vessel was named for Hermes, the fleet messenger of the gods, such is not the case," Burke said. "Fleetness is not a quality that the vessel ever enjoyed. I have never known the boat to go much over eight knots, about nine miles per hour."

The Hermes, he said, was named in honor of Senator Hermes Gautier, a Jackson County legislator who had worked diligently to secure the boat for the lab.

"The boat continues to provide a dependable and affordable, albeit slow, platform for field excursions for students," said Dr. Jay Grimes, Southern Miss provost and director of the lab. "Most are undergraduate students from the GCRL's more than 60 affiliated colleges and universities. They arrive on the Ocean Springs campus for summer courses or with instructors during the school year for a field trip and use our vessels, teaching laboratories, marine library, dormitory and dining hall."

The April 16 homecoming activities will also include cruises on the Hermes, a hospitality room of photos, displays and antique scientific equipment, free admission to the GCRL's J.L. Scott Marine Education Center & Aquarium, and a Hermes Reunion Reception in the evening.

Marie Caylor Wilson, daughter of GCRL founder Richard L. Caylor, originally christened the Hermes and will return to rechristen the newly refurbished vessel.

Cost per person for day activities only, including light lunch, is $10. Cost per person for all day and evening activities or for the evening Hermes Reunion Reception only is $25. For more information or registration form call (228) 872-4200 or visit

The GCRL is a unit of the university's College of Science and Technology.


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April 20, 2005 3:18 PM