Launched as the NOAA-ship (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) “RV Chapman” and – after being decommissioned from NOAA – having been granted to the University of Puerto Rico, the research vessel “Chapman” by the middle of the year 2008 reached the shores of Curacao.

The 127 feet long Chapman was built and designed by Bender Shipbuilding in Mobile, Alabama, and launched in December 1979. The ship for 25 years served in the Bering Sea and the Mississippi-region. After being decommissioned it ended up in Puerto Rico where over a period of almost six years hundreds of professors and students got on board to participate in all kinds of marine research. 

In 2008 the Chapman was purchased by Substation Curacao to be completely refurbished so as to be able to re-enter the world of marine research. This time the ship was not actually meant to resume its role as a research vessel, but was destined to become a submarine tender for Substation’s mini-submarine ‘Curasub’ and to also serve as a support vessel for scientists and research-oriented and adventure loving travelers.

The Chapman has been totally restored with a complete rebuild of all systems. Over three million dollars has been invested and the ship is now operational.



The submarine is launched from the Chapman with a 110 ton knuckle boom crane that was installed on the back deck and was designed and built by the Italian Fassi group, world leader in the lifting sector. The crane is capable of both launching as well as retrieving not just the submarine but also the floating dock from the back deck. While travelling the submarine and floating dock each has its own wooden deck to rest on. Once on site the crane puts the floating dock overboard and in the water. Then after the dock has been secured to the ship, the submarine can also be put in the floating dock and be ready to receive passengers.

If necessary two 20 ft. containers - outfitted with “wet” and “dry” laboratory equipment for stabilizing collected marine specimens - can be placed on the upper deck of the Chapman.

For more information on the Chapman contact Laureen Schenk at