The Marine Institute and Spanish shipyard Astilleros Armon Vigo have signed a contract for the construction of Ireland’s marine research vessel, following the completion of the vessel design by Skipsteknisk.
The building of the vessel is planned to complete in 2022.
Supporting the Government’s national integrated marine plan, ‘Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth’, as well as the national Marine Research and Innovation Strategy, the new 52 meter research vessel will form a critical part of the State’s maritime infrastructure. It will replace the RV Celtic Voyager and will be a sister ship to Ireland’s larger research vessel, the 65 meter RV Celtic Explorer.
The new vessel will support Ireland in addressing some of the research challenges of Brexit and the Common Fisheries Policy, as well as climate-induced impacts on the oceans.
It will facilitate service demands under the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) including the conservation, management and rebuilding of fish stocks and the long-term sustainable harvesting of marine biological resources.
It will greatly enhance the Institute’s many research and data gathering activities in areas like marine biodiversity, marine spatial planning and ocean observation and monitoring. The vessel will also support a diverse range of marine operations, such as maintaining and deploying Ireland’s Marine Data Buoy Network which supports Met Éireann’s daily weather forecasts.
The new research vessel will be a modern, multipurpose, silent vessel, capable of operating in the rough seas of the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). It will be designed to incorporate the latest proven technologies to ensure that it operates as efficiently as possible, ensuring minimal fuel consumption and minimizing the vessels environmental impact and carbon footprint.
Minister for Agriculture Food and Marine, Michael Creed TD said: “This project, when completed, will ensure that the important work of the Marine Institute, including vitally important fisheries and oceanic research initiatives, which are also important in the context of Climate Action, will be significantly enhanced through the commissioning of a state-of-the-art new fuel efficient research vessel. I am delighted that my Department has been able to provide the necessary capital funding to the Marine Institute to enable the new vessel to be delivered within the anticipated three year timeframe.”
Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute added: “This is an incredibly exciting moment in our ocean science history. The new national research vessel will allow Ireland to make a major leap forward in our understanding of the Atlantic. As we enter the UN Decade of the Ocean (2021 to 2030) it will ensure that Ireland continues to build our ocean knowledge and enhance our scientific understanding.”
“The significantly enhanced capabilities of the new research vessel will support a broad range of ocean stakeholders including policy makers, managers, industry, researchers, educators, students, coastal communities and the public. This knowledge is essential if we are to sustainably manage our oceans and empower Ireland and its people to safeguard and harness our ocean wealth.”
Based in Galway, the vessel will be used by the Marine Institute, other State agencies and Third Level Institutes to undertake fisheries, plankton, oceanographic and environmental research and surveys, as well as student training.
The new research vessel will be built at Armon’s shipyard facility in Vigo, Spain.
Mick Gillooly, director of Ocean Science and Information services, Marine Institute, said: “This new research vessel will be one of the most advanced marine research vessels in the world. It will provide scientists with state-of-the-art facilities and technologies to undertake crucial research that will deepen our understanding of the oceans.”
The new vessel will be a silent research vessel, and will be designed to meet the stringent criteria of the ICES 209 noise standard for fisheries research. It will also support the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and autonomous underwater vehicle operations, which enable the exploration of the deep ocean down to 3,000 meters.