R/V Jim Franks

R/V Jim Franks cruising

The R/V Jim Franks is a 60-foot aluminum catamaran that carries a crew of three and a maximum of 40 passengers; the vessel is captained by Rick Block. The R/V Jim Franks, commissioned in 2016, was designed for The University of Southern Mississippi, and constructed by Geo Shipyard of New Iberia, LA. The vessel is primarily used for class field trips to and from the Mississippi Barrier Islands and to provide a platform for numerous in-house and external research projects. A normal day on the R/V Jim Franks includes trawling for fish, shrimp, and other bottom dwelling marine life; dolphin watching; trips to the barrier islands; water quality testing; vertical and bottom long-lining for shark and reef species. The vessel is not limited to this work however.

  • The R/V Jim Franks (USCG official number 1266500) is 60 feet long, with a 25-foot beam, has a displacement of 84 gross tons, and a draft of 4-5 feet depending on the load. The vessel has an average cruising speed of 20 knots, a range of 700 nautical miles, and can stay offshore 3-5 days. The boat is equipped with two 500 HP, 13 liter Scania engines and two Westerbeke 13.5-kw 110/240V single-phase diesel generators. The vessel carries 1200 gallons of diesel fuel and 300 gallons of potable water.
  • The R/V Jim Franks has berthing for 4 scientists and 4 crew members; 1 head, 1 shower, central air conditioning, and hot water heaters. The galley is stocked with an industrial sized refrigerator and freezer, microwave, large electric skillet and crockpot, as well as an outdoor grill. The vessel has a wet and dry lab, each at 72 sq. feet, with a potable water sink in the wet lab. In addition, there is roughly 500 sq. feet of back deck space with two additional industrial sized sinks with capabilities of either potable water or sea water. The back deck is fully lighted for use after dark when needed.

Deck Equipment includes a single-spool hydraulic winch with ¼” or 3/8” cable and slip-ring capabilities; hydraulic A-frame with lifting capabilities up to 3000 pounds used for trawling, box coring, and other overboard deployments; starboard davit and 12-V winch with lifting power up to 4500 pounds; compressed air hook ups on back deck; Windlass anchor winch; (2) 12-person Zodiac life rafts; and 2 stern swim platforms.

Electronic equipment includes radar, VHF radiotelephone, DGPS plotter, graphic depth sounder, single side band radio, side-scan sonar capabilities, back-deck cameras, and AIS. The R/V Jim Franks is insured to cover normal research activities of the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.  Any additional insurance requirements must be provided by the chartering researchers or program.

Charter Fee

The total charter fee will be determined by adding the cost of the fuel actually used to the appropriate daily fee:

  • 8-hour charter - $1600.00
  • 12-hour charter - $2100.00
  • 24-hour charter - $4200.00

Food and drinks are not supplied for day trips.

For more information or to reserve the R/V Jim Franks, please contact Tiffany Bosarge at tiffany.bosarge@usm.edu or (228) 872-4277.

Additional Notes for Charters

  • For a 12-hour day, there will be one captain and two deckhands. If the vessel operates more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period, additional personal will be added as needed.
  • A day starts when the vessel leaves the home port and ends when the vessel returns to the home port. Once the vessel leaves the dock, the full rate will be charged regardless of return time or work completed.
  • Request for Service forms are to be turned in at least five working days before the departure of any trip. Trip cancellations must be received at least five working days prior to departure or ½ the normal day rate will be charged. There will be no charge for weather days at the dock.
  • The Captain will monitor weather conditions before departure and advise the field party chief of conditions to determine if any work can be accomplished.
  • All sampling equipment and consumables will be provided by the chartering researchers unless other arrangements are made. Food and drinks are not supplied for trips under 12 hours.
  • Collecting of samples will be a joint effort between the vessel crew and the chartering researchers. If sampling requires the use of machinery, it will be operated by the crew only; the processing and storage of all samples will be conducted by the chartering researchers. The Chief Scientist will be responsible for all hazmat chemicals.
  • The R/V Jim Franks is insured to cover normal research activities of the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. Any additional insurance requirements must be provided by the chartering researchers. Address questions regarding insurance coverage to Jason Ferguson at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (228) 872-4205.
  • If a "Request for Services" form is not completed and filed with the Vessel Operations Manager at least 7 working days prior to any trip, the trip will not be confirmed and could be subject to changes in dates.
  • All passengers under 18 years of age will be required to submit a parental consent form with the Vessel Operations Manager before a trip embarks.

Read more about the R/V Jim Franks and its commissioning on the Division of Coastal Sciences website.