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the origins and early history of the steamer albatross, 1880 - 1887
by Dean C. Allard

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Figure 3. - The Albatross dredging.

laboratory spaces and scientific equipment, including “powerful hoisting engines” capable of working in waters as deep as 4,000 fathoms (Fig. 7). The Fish Commissioner specifically associated the Albatross with the exploration of the Gulf Stream Slope. As her later history revealed, however, the Albatross was equally capable of extended operations in any oceanic environment(3).

Figure 4. - The Fish Hawk

In his December 1880 letter to Verrill, the Fish Commissioner expressed pessimism that Congress would approve his proposal. Yet, despite his initial doubts, Baird mounted a skillful lobbying campaign that resulted in an 1881 Congressional appropriation for $103,000. By October 1881, Baird received the vessel’s final plans from Charles W. Copeland, the New York City marine architect who had previously designed the Fish Commission’s Fish Hawk. Bids then were requested from American shipbuilders. To Baird’s profound disappointment, however, the lowest proposal received was for $129,500 (USFC, 1884:xxiv; Baird(4)).

george brown goode
Figure 5. - George Brown Goode, an assistant
to Baird.
addison e. verrill
Figure 6. - Addision E. Verrill, a professor at Yale University

Rejecting the option of using available funds to build a smaller vessel, the Fish Commissioner returned to Congress with a request for a supplemental appropriation. Pulling out all the stops, Baird listed six major contributions that Albatross could make to the nation:

1) Exploration and study of known fishing areas.

2) Location of new fishing grounds in the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and off the Pacific coast.

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.

Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

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