The University of Washington’s biggest research ship is getting loaded up with scientists, supplies and an underwater robot after an extensive multimillion-dollar makeover that’s designed to add 25 more years to its current quarter-century of operation.

And the crew of the 274-foot R/V Thomas G. Thompson can hardly wait to set sail.

“It’s been a long 18 months in the shipyard,” Brian Clampitt, one of the UW crew’s able-bodied seamen, told GeekWire today. “We’re looking forward to getting back to work.”

Clampitt and his mates never stopped working during the refit, most of which was done at Vigor Marine’s Seattle shipyard. But the crew’s duties on land can’t compare with getting back to the sea.

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