Honolulu Harbor's newest ship might not look high tech from the outside. But step inside, and you'll see what $60 million can do.
Google executive Eric Schmidt and his wife Wendy bought the 272-foot vessel known as Falkor, for $2 million three years ago and renovated it to support ocean research.
"We felt it was really important to bring resources to accelerating the pace of scientific research that goes on and to make it broadly accessible to scientists around the world," said Wendy Schmidt. "We decided to make a mobile platform, not one that lives in any particular port."
Falkor started surveying the seas last year, taking it through waters around Europe and North America, and now Hawaii.
"We have equipment on board the ship that allows us to map almost all the oceans on the planet," said Schmidt Ocean Institute's Director of Marine Operations Eric King. "We have special systems that allow us to take water samples and water-column data analysis. So that the scientists can get a much better understanding of what really is you know, below the surface."
A crew of 23 operates the four-level ship and invites 17 scientists and researchers on each mission.
Schmidt said, "We invite two-page expressions of interest from scientists all over the world who would like to travel on Falkor."
"We select a handful of those projects that again, that meet our mission, our vision, our values and then we'll bring the ship to wherever the science work has to be done," King said.
Falkor will be docked off Aloha Tower until Wednesday. After that, Pier 45 will be its home base through August as it surveys Hawaii's waters, focusing its research on the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.
It will explore the deepest waters of the world during its next stop in Guam.
And yes, Falkor is named after the character from the movie "The Neverending Story."