Marine Institute signs contract for new research vessel

Norwegian ship consultants, Skipsteknisk AS, have been awarded the contract to design a marine research vessel for Ireland. The 50m vessel (delivery early 2022) will replace RV Celtic Voyager and will be a sister ship to the 65m RV Celtic Explorer.

The new vessel will support Ireland in addressing some of research challenges of Brexit and the Common Fisheries Policy, as well as climate induced impacts on oceans.

Pictured l-r: Aodhan Fitzgerald, Research Vessel Operations Manager, Marine Institute; Håvard Vollset Lien, Design Manager, Skipsteknisk AS; Mick Gillooly, Director, Marine Institute; Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO, Marine Institute, Hans Ove Holmoey, MD Skipsteknisk AS

It will also facilitate service demands under the European Maritime Fund including conservation, management and rebuilding of fish stocks, and long-term sustainable harvesting of marine biological resources, a statement reads.

Best scientific advice

State funding of the new vessel “demonstrates the Government’s commitment to expanding and strengthening marine science Ireland to ensure our nation is equipped with the best scientific advice possible to enable a strong negotiating position and to maximise economic opportunities in a sustainable manner,” remarked Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Dr Peter Heffernan, Marine Institute chief executive said the agency was “on track and on budget” with the design:

It will provide “critical national infrastructure” and marks a “major milestone” in the Marine Institute’s efforts to provide world-class marine science.

Enhanced capabilities will help researchers, educators, students and the public gain a richer understanding of the ocean, and enable new discoveries “that stretch the bounds of our imagination,” he added.

Investment in the nation’s scientific research recognises the institute’s 25-years leadership in oceanography “and its long-standing and fruitful collaborations with partner institutions.”

The vessel will used by the Marine Institute and other State agencies and universities to undertake fisheries research, oceanographic and environmental research and surveys and enable student learning.  It will contribute to ongoing transatlantic surveys with international partners through AORA (Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance), as well as EU-funded survey programmes obtained through Horizon2020.

As a ‘silent vessel’ the new build will be designed to meet the stringent criteria of the ICES 209 noise standard for fisheries research.

The boat will also be capable of operating in the harsh conditions of the NE Atlantic and to spent 21 days at sea.

“It will also support the remotely operated vehicle and autonomous underwater vehicle operations” that enable exploration of depths of 3,000m,” explained Mick Gillooly, Director of Ocean Science and Information Services.