HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – On Wednesday, May 18, the longtime University of Southern Mississippi (USM) marine trawler was officially transformed into an artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico during a special ceremony at sea. A tow ship pulled R/V Hermes to a designated spot 15 miles south of Horn Island for the ceremonial sinking.

For more than 60 years, R/V Hermes had been used in a variety of capacities by USM’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL), located in Ocean Springs. Last year, GCRL officially retired Hermes and transferred the vessel to Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks under the agreement that the group would turn it into an artificial reef.

R/V Hermes was a 38-foot, steel-hulled trawler that served as a floating classroom and laboratory, granting students and scientists access to the Gulf of Mexico. A typical day aboard the vessel included trawling for fish, shrimp, and crabs; dolphin watching, and field excursions to Mississippi’s barrier islands.

In preparation for the submersion, pre-drilled holes were covered just above the water line. Once in position, crew members from the tow ship boarded Hermes and removed the covered holes. Water was then pumped into Hermes to add weight. The process took approximately 30 minutes. The vessel’s wheel, bell and plaque have been enshrined onshore.

R/V Hermes was named for State Senator Hermes of Gautier, who helped then GCRL Director Aubrey Hopkins secure the vessel. The vessel came to GCRL in 1955 after being retrofitted at Kramer Marine in Gulfport.