OSU's oceanography program began in 1954 with a small research grant from the Office of Naval Research. It was established as a department in 1959 to fulfill the need for trained oceanographers and basic oceanographic research in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. The department became the School of Oceanography in 1972 and the College of Oceanography in 1983. When the Atmospheric Sciences Department was transferred to the college in 1993, Oceanography was renamed the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences.
The college's first research vessel, the Acona, was commissioned in 1961. Other research vessels have included the Yaquina, the Cayuse, and the Wecoma. The college's coastal research facility, the Hatfield Marine Science Center, opened in 1965.
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