The Office of Naval Research has awarded two contracts worth a total of $145 million to build two new oceanographic research vessels for the academic community. The 238-foot ships will accommodate 24 scientists and 20 crew and will be able to undertake global research voyages. To be constructed by Dakota Creek Industries of Anacortes, Wash., the ships will be completed by early 2015. They will be operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography as part of University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System, a research partnership of 61 academic research centers and national labs. They will replace two of the six academic research ships currently supported by the Navy, which has built research vessels since World War II. The Navy has not decided which two vessels will be retired. The new ships will operate primarily in the Atlantic, western Pacific, and Indian Oceans.