A Gulf Coast civil rights icon is being honored as the namesake of a new, $100 million National Science Foundation (NSF) oceanographic research ship, to be operated by the Gulf – Caribbean Oceanographic Consortium (GCOC), led by The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON).
NSF officials have informed the National Science Board that the ship, which is under construction and will have dual homeports at the Port of Gulfport and Houma, LA, will be named Research Vessel (R/V) Gilbert R. Mason. For decades until his death in 2006, Dr. Gilbert Rutledge Mason Sr. was a pioneering Civil Rights leader and physician to the mariner community along the Gulf Coast. The slogan for the ship will be aequa mari, meaning equal access to the sea, to honor his life's work and legacy.
"The National Science Foundation has a long history of advocating for inclusion in research, knowing that inclusive science yields the most complete perspectives and outcomes," said Terrence Quinn, NSF's Division Director for the Division of Ocean Sciences. "Commemorating Dr. Mason's life and achievements will be a good reminder that this NSF-owned research vessel will not only open the waters to further discovery, but it will open opportunities for a wide range of researchers."
Find out more about Gilbert Mason in the University of Southern Mississippi news release and listen to Aria Mason's tribute to her grandfather at the 2020 Keel Laying Ceremony here.