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Open house to say goodbye to research ship Melville in San Diego

Scripps Institution of Oceanography is opening the Melville to the public before the research ship is retired

If you ever wanted to see the inner workings of a deep-sea ocean research vessel, head to San Diego for a tour of the Melville.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego is getting ready to say goodbye to a vessel it has operated for 46 years and that has helped scientists and researchers study oceans around the world.

The oldest ship in the institution's fleet (built in 1969) will open to the public from 9 a.m. to noon on Feb. 21 before it's retired from service. 

During the open house, you can explore the main deck, the bridge, the galley and scientific laboratories and equipment on the vessel used exclusively for ocean research.

Crew members will be on hand to talk about what long tours at sea are like when you're performing experiments and gathering scientific data.

The Melville in 2008 returned from more than two years at sea on the Magellan Expedition, according to Scripps' website.

During that trip, it logged 100,000 nautical miles, covered 10 countries and allowed scientists to watch underwater volcanic eruptions via a robotic submersible and measure how sound travels through oceans.

And there were unexpected discoveries in the ship's past too.

In an account of the Helios Expedition for Scripps, former Melville Captain Eric Buck reported: "In 1987, we were southeast of Tahiti taking water samples to learn about volcanoes when a submarine volcano suddenly erupted beneath the vessel. I was on the bridge and noticed that the water ahead looked like it was boiling."

What happens to the ship now? The Melville is owned by the Navy, which will put it up for sale. Scripps will replace it with a new research vessel called the Sally Ride, named for the first U.S. woman to go into space.

For the Melville tour, adults must have photo IDs and wear close-toed shoes to board the ship. The vessel will be docked at the Broadway Pier of the Cruise Ship Terminal at 1000 N. Harbor Drive in San Diego.

Visitors can park at a metered space on the street or at nearby pay parking lots.

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