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New Hull of Irish Marine Research Vessel 'Tom Crean' is Completed in Spain

16th September 2021
RV Tom Crean hull is completed
RV Tom Crean hull is completed Credit: Marine Institute

Ireland’s new state-of-the-art multipurpose marine research vessel, the RV Tom Crean, has recently reached a key milestone with the completion of the vessel’s hull.

The RV Tom Crean consists of 32 individual hull units expertly assembled to form the hull of the vessel. This phase of the project involved upwards of 70 personnel working at some stages which included the joining of the hull units, installation of the vessel generation sets, electric propulsion motor, deck equipment and the vessel’s unique silent seven-bladed propeller. The Wheel House will also be installed this week.

The vessel hull has also been painted in the familiar ‘Signal green’ colour, and features the vessel name Tom Crean. It is the colour used on the Marine Institute’s two research vessels currently in operation, the RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager.

The construction of the new national research vessel continues on schedule and on budget in 2021, with the build process expected to be completed in summer 2022.

Spanish shipyard Astilleros Armon Vigo S.A. were awarded the contract to build Ireland's new state-of-the-art marine research vesselSpanish shipyard Astilleros Armon Vigo S.A. were awarded the contract to build Ireland's new state-of-the-art marine research vessel

The new 52.8 metre modern research vessel, which will replace the 31 metre RV Celtic Voyager, will carry out a wide range of marine research activities, including vital fisheries, climate change related research, seabed mapping and oceanography.

Aodhán Fitzgerald, Interim Director of Oceans, Climate and Information Services, and Project Manager of the new vessel build said, “The construction of Ireland’s new marine research vessel is making great progress, with the RV Tom Crean on track for completion in summer 2022. The next stage of the build focus will move towards the outfitting of the vessel interior, including laboratories, with the vessel’s launch into the water scheduled for November 2021. The outfitting will then continue with the vessel afloat.”

Spanish shipyard Astilleros Armon Vigo S.A. were awarded the contract to build Ireland's new state-of-the-art marine research vessel in 2019, following the completion of the design by Norwegian ship design consultants Skipsteknisk AS.

The RV Tom Crean will provide a year-round service for expanded fisheries surveys, seabed mapping, deep water surveys and support increased research in the Atlantic Ocean. The new vessel will enable 300 operational days at sea each year, and up to 3,000 scientist days per year. The new vessel will also enable the Marine Institute to continue to lead and support scientific, high-quality surveys that contribute to Ireland's position as a leader in marine science.

The new research vessel will be a modern, multipurpose, silent vessel, capable of operating in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The new vessel will be able to go to sea for at least 21 days at a time and will be designed to operate in harsh sea conditions. Based in Galway, the vessel will be used by the Marine Institute, other state agencies and universities to undertake fisheries research, oceanographic and environmental research, seabed mapping and other multidisciplinary surveys. It will also maintain and deploy weather buoys, observational infrastructure and our Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Holland I.

The vessel has been named the RV Tom Crean, after the renowned seaman and explorer who undertook three major ground-breaking expeditions to the Antarctic in the early years of the 20th Century which sought to increase scientific knowledge and to explore unreached areas of the world, at that time.

The new research vessel has been commissioned with funding provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine approved by the Government of Ireland.

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Marine Institute Research Vessel Tom Crean

Ireland’s new marine research vessel will be named the RV Tom Crean after the renowned County Kerry seaman and explorer who undertook three major groundbreaking expeditions to the Antarctic in the early years of the 20th Century which sought to increase scientific knowledge and to explore unreached areas of the world, at that time.

Irish Marine Research activities

Due to be completed in summer 2022, the new state-of-the-art multi-purpose marine research vessel will carry out a wide range of marine research activities, including vital fisheries, climate change-related research, seabed mapping and oceanography.

The new 52.8-metre modern research vessel, which will replace the 31-metre RV Celtic Voyager, has been commissioned with funding provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine approved by the Government of Ireland.

According to Aodhán FitzGerald, Research Vessel Manager of the MI, the RV Tom Crean will feature an articulated boom crane aft ([email protected] 10m, [email protected] 15m), located on the aft-gantry. This will be largely used for loading science equipment and net and equipment handling offshore.

Mounted at the stern is a 10T A-frame aft which can articulate through 170 degrees which are for deploying and recovering large science equipment such as a remotely operated vehicle (ROV’s), towed sleds and for fishing operations.

In addition the fitting of an 8 Ton starboard side T Frame for deploying grabs and corers to 4000m which is the same depth applicable to when the vessel is heaving but is compensated by a CTD system consisting of a winch and frame during such operations.

The vessel will have the regulation MOB boat on a dedicated davit and the facility to carry a 6.5m Rigid Inflatable tender on the port side.

Also at the aft deck is where the 'Holland 1' Work class ROV and the University of Limericks 'Etain' sub-Atlantic ROV will be positioned. In addition up to 3 x 20’ (TEU) containers can be carried.

The newbuild has been engineered to endure increasing harsher conditions and the punishing weather systems encountered in the North-East Atlantic where deployments of RV Tom Crean on surveys spent up to 21 days duration.

In addition, RV Tom Crean will be able to operate in an ultra silent-mode, which is crucial to meet the stringent criteria of the ICES 209 noise standard for fisheries research purposes.

The classification of the newbuild as been appointed to Lloyds and below is a list of the main capabilities and duties to be tasked by RV Tom Crean:

  • Oceanographic surveys, incl. CTD water sampling
  • Fishery research operations
  • Acoustic research operations
  • Environmental research and sampling operation incl. coring
  • ROV and AUV/ASV Surveys
  • Buoy/Mooring operations

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