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Displaying items by tag: New Research Ship

A Norwegian naval architect consultancy that has designed the Marine Institute's new research vessel, Afloat.ie reveals is to be named RV Tom Crean after the Irish seaman and polar explorer in Antarctica, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The name chosen for the 52.80m marine research vessel by the M.I. will honour and recognise the famous Co. Kerry born native from Annascaul who was a member of three major expeditions to Antarctica that took place more than century ago. To read more of these considerable achievements they can be read here.

Also the news of the vessel's name breaks away from the M.I's traditional naming nomenclature using the prefix 'Celtic' as used by a pair of existing research vessels.

As Afloat previously reported, €25m has been allocated in the 2021 budget to progress the construction of the vessel which will form a critical part of the Irish State’s maritime infrastructure, and the strategic importance positioned on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

RV Tom Crean: A screen shot from the Norwegian naval architect consultancy, Skipsteknisk ASRV Tom Crean: A screenshot from the website of the Norwegian naval architect consultancy, Skipsteknisk AS

RV Tom Crean is to replace the 23 year old RV Celtic Voyager with the newbuild scheduled to be completed in 2022 and be based in Galway Harbour where the port comprises a dock basin. Also in Co. Galway on the outskirts of the mid-west city, is where the Marine Institute has its headquarters based in Oranmore.

Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue commented that the modern research vessel will enable Ireland to address considerable challenges faced by Brexit and the Common Fisheries Policy and climate-induced impacts on our oceans. The research ship will be able to operate in rougher seas and have the use of technology with 'green' credentials. Surveys will be up to 21 days duration and exploration depths down to 3,000m.

The newbuild designated as ST-366 by designers, Skipsteknisk AS based in Ålesund in western Norway, were awarded the work following a EU tender process. The above GCI image visual of the modern yet elegant appearance of RV Tom Crean arises from Afloat consulting the naval designer website, which displays other newbuild projects from the company founded in 1976. Norway, which is rich in fishing grounds has not surprisingly seen Skipsteknisk develop over the decades in designing ice-strengthened factory trawlers as a speciality. 

As also to be seen in the image, the newbuild RV Tom Crean continues to retain the M.I. colours of a green hull and white superstructure of the current Galway based reseach vessel pair, Celtic Voyager and Celtic Explorer. 

As for the accommodation of the RV Tom Crean this will provide for 12 crew and up to 14 scientists. In addition an on board hospital.

The classification of the newbuild as been appointed to Lloyds and below is a list of the main capabilies 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

It is more than a year since the Marine Institute announced the ship's order in December 2019. The new research vessel which is to replace the older 31.40m RV Celtic Voyager (1997) while the larger 65.50m RV Celtic Explorer (2003) remains in service complete with the 'Holland I' deep-water ROV. It should be noted as part of this ship's equipment is a tender craft called Tom Crean.

Both of these M.I research vessels were custom built, with the Celtic Voyager from the Netherlands from where outfitting took place for the Celtic Explorer having been built in Romania. 

This time the order for RV Tom Crean was contracted to the Spanish shipyard of Astilleros Armon Vigo S.A. The north-western Iberian yard is to build Ireland’s new state-of-the-art marine research vessel, which marks a significant milestone with the construction process expected to be completed next year.

In addition to RV Tom Crean's role mentioned above, the newbuild will also be supporting the Government’s national integrated marine plan, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, and the national Marine Research and Innovation Strategy.

Asides the Marine Institute headquarters, Galway is also home to P&O Maritime Services which over the years, provides the M.I. research vessels with crewing along with shore staff based in the coastal city.

Published in RV Tom Crean

Cammell Laird a UK shipbuilder on Merseyside, has achieved its final milestone for the RRS Sir David Attenborough by formally handing over the new polar ship to Britain's Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The royal research ship (RRS) to be operated by British Antarctic Survey (BAS) will transform UK research in the polar regions. Its missions will be critical for understanding and making sense of our changing climate.

Crews from BAS will spend the next 50 days undergoing intensive training at Holyhead Port, familiarising themselves with the ship and its equipment.

The 15,000 tonne ship will then embark on further operational and scientific trials where the team will test anchoring, manoeuvring, dynamic positioning and helideck landing. Early next year the ship will undertake ice trials in the Arctic, and in November 2021 make its maiden voyage to Antarctica.

As Afloat reported in October RRS Sir David Attenborough began sea trials having departed Cammell Laird’s Birkenhead facility. This stage had marked the culmination of a complex four year build programme that involved more than 1300 local personnel, 70 apprentices and many hundreds of specialist subcontractors and suppliers.

David McGinley, CEO of Cammell Laird Shiprepairers, Shipbuilders, Atlantic & Peninsula Services said: “This handover is the final milestone in what has been the most ambitious project in Cammell Laird’s recent history and we are proud that a vessel built here in the UK will contribute so much to our understanding of climate change.

“It’s also an important opportunity to reflect on the amount of collective expertise, commitment and sheer tenacity that has gone into this build. We’ve worked closely with NERC and BAS throughout and have shown that Cammell Laird is at the forefront of the global shipbuilding industry and ready to deliver future shipbuilding projects here on the River Mersey. We wish RRS Sir David Attenborough good luck and bid her a very, very fond farewell.”

Nigel Bird, Director of Major Programmes at NERC said: “The handover of the RRS Sir David Attenborough marks the end of the beginning. Seven years on from when the design process began, we have the keys to one of the most advanced polar research vessels in the world, and I want every person who has contributed to this extraordinary ship to know how proud UKRI-NERC are.”

Professor Dame Jane Francis, Director of BAS, said: “This exciting moment is a major milestone for us, and a big moment for all those who have spent the past four years working tirelessly to build this incredible vessel. We’ve seen it evolve from a pile of steel into this amazing state-of-the-art ship that’s going to allow us to do science that we’ve never done before.”

Published in Marine Science

Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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