[UPDATE: New Pictures] Scoop: SpaceX purchases and outfits two ships, potentially for fairing recovery

A photo was shared in a Facebook Group that appears to show 2 vessels in the midst of being outfitted. The post shared a tip that SpaceX purchased these two ships for operations on the east coast. One of the vessels clearly brands a SpaceX logo, while the other is being worked on and sharing the same color scheme. So we looked into it…

The picture that was shared shows one of the vessels with the name of ‘Doug’ and the individual who shared the picture stated the other is named ‘Bob’. What is clear is that Doug sports a slick white and black color scheme, fairly standard for SpaceX. Doug also has a crane mounted to the deck, similar to those found on Shelia Bordelon and Hos Briarwood, former contracted vessels. This leads us to suspect these ships will be used to fish fairings out of the water.

Familiar names for the new SpaceX fleet members

You might have noticed the names are familiar. That’s because these two ships are named after the first two astronauts SpaceX flew in their Dragon spacecraft, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. They flew on SpaceX’s DM-2 mission back in May of 2020. This mission validated the Dragon spacecraft for operational use for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The purchase of Bob and Doug to the fleet differs from their previous method where SpaceX contracts their ship fleet to outside companies. Other than SpaceX’s sea fairing spaceports, Phobos and Deimos, and their three droneships, it appears these are SpaceX’s first owned and operated vessels.

New SpaceX vessels being outfitted | Image Credit: Annonymous Facebook User

Digging for deatils

After seeing the Facebook post, we wanted to verify the claim. Initial searches for the names Bob and Doug on MarineTraffic and VesselFinder did not yield any results. We then began searching the United States Coast Guard Databases. That is where we found them.

Searching through the databases resulted in the discovery of this information. Using the IMO numbers, an International Maritime Organization identifier, we searched for the vessels on MarineTraffic.

You can compare the IMO Numbers and see that they’re the same. Bob was Ella G and Doug was Ingrid. We are unsure about the prior owner, whether it was Edison Chouest Offshore or Island Ventures II LLC, but will update the article if we can verify.

The USCG database shows that new Certificate of Documentations were issued July 15th, 2021 for both vessels. A Certificate of Documentation is a document that establishes ownership and nationality of vessels. This document could also be the means to updating the vessel names.

These ships are currently in Port Houma, Louisiana, and are expected to head to Port Canaveral, Florida soon.

UPDATE: New Pictures

A photographer in the Port Fourchon area got photos of Doug arriving, they then shared these with MarineTraffic. From these pictures, we can see the crane sports SpaceX branding, and we can see that Doug will be based out of Port Canaveral, FL. It isn’t confirmed whether Bob will be based out of Florida or California at this time.

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