All Hands for Sound Science

Salish Sea Expeditions’ Marine Education Vessel Elettra III on Vimeo

Salish Sea Expeditions engages students from the Puget Sound region and beyond in meaningful science and maritime learning programs that ignite curiosity, engage critical thinking and build confidence, while fostering an enduring interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects.

Our outcomes are proven: according to our pre- and post-voyage student evaluations, 79% of our students demonstrate an improved understanding of the scientific method and increased confidence designing an experiment. Additionally, 79% of our students report increased interest in study and careers related to science, maritime trades, and the environment.

Our campaign “All Hands for Sound Science” supports a vision for Salish programs to reach every middle and high school in Washington with meaningful marine science and maritime education on the waters of Puget Sound — and even more students through state-of-the-art virtual networking and digital collaboration.

To achieve this goal, Salish will launch the Puget Sound region’s flagship marine science and maritime education vessel serving middle and secondary students. Our program delivery is supported by partnerships with regional leaders in the scientific and education communities, and maritime/tech sectors.

This initiative will help connect as many as five times the number of students annually to the marine environment, and triple our program days on the Salish Sea to an estimated 300 days per year by 2020.

All Hands for Sound Science (click below to access a PDF brochure)

salish campaign brochure_cover

Take a Deeper Dive (learn about campaign priorities – click images below)

Education   Science   Equity   Maritime_web   Vessel Fact Sheet_Page_1

Path to Launch

In 2015 Salish acquired Elettra III, an 85-foot motor vessel to serve as the primary vehicle for our program expansion. Elettra was originally constructed in 1962 by Fairmile Construction in England, and placed in service as a communications equipment research and testing platform for The Marconi Company. Salish Sea Expeditions purchased the vessel from a private seller who reduced the sale price for a generous in kind donation.

Elettra III

The Elettra provides a unique opportunity to refit a boat with a fascinating historical pedigree:

The Marconi Legacy: Research Demonstration Vessels
Elettra III was the first purpose-built research and demonstration vessel to be commissioned by the Marconi Company. It’s the third in a line of vessels operated by the company to carry the name “Elettra.” Based on the successful “Fair Isle” hull, the new vessel had a moulded breadth of 20 feet and a moulded depth of 11 feet. In load condition the vessel had a draught of 9 feet 9 inches and a displacement of 134.3 tons. At first commission, the forward demonstration saloon housed what was at the time state-of-the-art navigational aids, including Marconi Argus and Hermes radar installations. A custom console housed the Mimco intercom system panel, a Seagraph III echofinder, Metron visual depth indicator, Lodestar automatic detection finder, Argonaut VHF control unit and the Chernikeef log. (Source: Berwick Shipyard)

The vessel has been used as a recreational vessel since its sale by Marconi. Since purchase by Salish Sea Expeditions, Elettra has passed marine surveys, sea trials and additional technical assessment with flying colors.

As a foreign built vessel, Elettra was subject to the Jones Act, which prohibits any foreign built or foreign flagged vessel from engaging in coastwise trade within the United States. Thanks to the unfailing efforts of many parties lobbying on behalf of Salish, as well as the support of Representative Rick Larsen, Elettra III was granted a coastwise endorsement in HR4188, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 (excerpted below):


(a) ‘‘ELETTRA III’’.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding sections 12112 and 12132, of title 46, United States Code, and subject to paragraphs (2) and (3), the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating may issue a certificate of documentation with a coastwise endorsement for the vessel M/V Elettra III (United States official number 694607).
(2) LIMITATION ON OPERATION.—Coastwise trade authorized under a certificate of documentation issued under paragraph (1) shall be limited to the carriage of passengers and equipment in association with the operation of the vessel in the Puget Sound region to support marine and maritime science education.
(3) TERMINATION OF EFFECTIVENESS OF CERTIFICATE.—A certificate of documentation issued under paragraph (1) shall expire on the earlier of— (A) the date of the sale of the vessel or the entity that owns the vessel; (B) the date any repairs or alterations are made to the vessel outside of the United States; or (C) the date the vessel is no longer operated as a vessel in the Puget Sound region to support the marine and maritime science education.

With the coastwise authorization, Salish is moving forward with U.S. Coast Guard certification and has submitted an application for Certificate of Inspection. The organization is also in the process of collaborative program design and assessment of need for regional marine, maritime and STEM-focused program delivery.

Salish would like to thank Pacific Fishermen Shipyard for hosting Elettra III and generously donating shipyard services and moorage.

About Salish Sea Expeditions

Salish Sea Expeditions  delivers boat-based learning experiences to students in grades 5-12, giving them the opportunity to conduct real scientific research, and engage in STEM exploration and maritime skills training. Students deploy oceanographic equipment, gather and analyze data, plot a course for data collection stations, handle sails and boat navigation, and work as a team to better understand the environmental health of the Salish Sea and its connected waterways.

These unique boat-based expeditions are comprised of 1-5 days of oceanographic research, nautical sciences and seamanship aboard the 61-foot sailing research vessel, Carlyn. These immersion experiences are book-ended by classroom visits, where students have the opportunity explore the scientific process, from hypothesis development to the presentation and peer-review of data.

After nearly 20 years of program delivery to more than 15,000 students and 1,200 educators, Salish is “coming about” to fill a growing and critical need for STEM and maritime literate graduates.

Interested in touring Elettra III and learning more about our plans to expand Salish STEM and maritime programs?
Call Seth Muir, Executive Director at 206-780-7848 ext. 1 or email Seth [at]