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California high school students name NOAA ship

Five ninth-grade students from Marina High School in Marina, Calif., have won a contest to name the newest research ship for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

The entry was one of thousands across the country that were considered for the naming of a 208-foot fisheries survey vessel. The students named the vessel the Bell M. Shimada for a fishing scientist who specialized in Pacific tropic tuna stocks.

The students and their biology teacher will attend the keel-laying ceremony in Moss Point on June 15.

The contest was a competitive one, said NOAA administrator and retired Navy Vice Admr. Conrad C. Lautenbacher.

“The contest was designed to encourage students to learn more about their oceans and coasts and the Marina High School team presented an outstanding recommendation,” he said in a news release.

The contest is part of a program NOAA initiated in 2003 to promote science education and ocean literacy at the junior high and high school levels. Thousands of students have participated in the contest since its inception. The contest includes students researching the ship and its purpose and writing an essay to support the name selection.

The Bell M. Shimada is the last of four new NOAA fisheries survey vessels of the same design under construction with VT Halter Marine of Moss Point. The ship will support NOAA Fisheries by rebuilding and maintaining sustainable fisheries, promoting the recovery of protected species and protecting and maintaining the health of coastal marine habitats.