Oregon State University says it's been selected to lead the final design work and coordinate construction of up to three new coastal research vessels, which would likely be deployed one each to the East, West and Gulf coasts.
The university said in a statement Wednesday the National Science Foundation has told the school it will get nearly $3 million to coordinate the design work.
If money is appropriated for all three vessels, Oregon State estimates the grant could reach $290 million over 10 years.
The school described the vessels as 175-foot-long floating laboratories that would be "more seaworthy and environmentally 'green' than previous research vessels."
The university now operates the R/V Oceanus, which is scheduled for retirement about the time the new research vessels are expected to be available.