Large Survey Vessel: R/V Channel Cat

side view of Channel Cat

The research vessel Channel Cat is a steel-hulled fish tug designed for a trap net fishery operation, similar to the Lake Erie trap net tugs. She was built for the DNR in 1968 by the Maybee Boat Company of Point Place, Ohio. Since that time, the Channel Cat has served as a work platform for Great Lakes fisheries research. The Channel Cat's home port is the MDNR's Lake St. Clair Fisheries Research Station located at the mouth of the Clinton River on Lake St. Clair.

As originally constructed, the Channel Cat was 36 feet long. In 1969, the vessel was lengthened 10 feet at the midsection. front view of Channel Cat The current vessel length is 46 feet with a 13-ft beam and a gross weight of 24 tons. She is powered by twin 210 hp 6V 53 Detroit Allison diesel engines. The Channel Cathas a maximum speed of 13 knots and a cruising speed of 10 knots. Twin fuel tanks carry a total of 370 gallons of diesel fuel. Fuel consumption averages 4-6 gallons per hour. The vessel is equipped with hydraulics for operating a trawl winch. Instrumentation includes GPS, Loran C & magnetic navigation, radar, sonar, autopilot, EPIRB, marine band radio, and cell-phone communications. Recent upgrades to the vessel have included rebuilt engines (1995), hull repairs and repainting (2001), and complete rewiring (2003).

The R/V Channel Catconducts fish sampling on the waters of Lake Erie, the St. Clair/Detroit River system, and Saginaw Bay. The vessel's operational season typically runs from late March through early November. Fish sampling gear deployed from the vessel include gill nets, trap nets, trawls, and setlines. The standard crew includes 2 boat captains, a biologist, technician and fisheries assistant. Vessel operational costs per day of sampling are estimated at approximately $2000.