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New Research Vessel for Marine Institute to be Named RV Tom Crean - Afloat Reveals

31st January 2021
AFLOAT exclusively reveals the ship's name of the Marine Institute's new research vessel is to be the RV Tom Crean, in honour of the Irishman's considerable seafaring and polar expedition achievements in Antractica of more than a century ago. AFLOAT exclusively reveals the ship's name of the Marine Institute's new research vessel is to be the RV Tom Crean, in honour of the Irishman's considerable seafaring and polar expedition achievements in Antractica of more than a century ago. Credit: Source Norwegian naval architects: Skipsteknisk AS

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.

Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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