Freire Shipyard Launches Belgium’s New Oceanographic Research Vessel RV Belgica II

Spanish shipbuilder, Freire Shipyard (Construcciones Navales P. Freire, S.A) has launched Belgium’s new oceanographic research vessel, RV Belgica II, at its facility in Vigo on Feb. 11.

The new RV Belgica is the result of a project conducted through a collaboration between the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), the Ministry of Defence and the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO).

The Belgian delegation that took part in the launching ceremony was headed by representatives of the three institutions: Ms. Patricia Supply, General Director a.i. for the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), Rear Admiral Yves Dupont, for the Ministry of Defence and Mr. Pierre Bruyere, Chairman a.i. of the board of directors, for the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO).

Freire shipyard was awarded the international tender for the building of this new state-of-the-art oceanographic research vessel in 2018 with the objective to provide support to the marine research community for the coming 30 years. The contract came into force in June 2018 and the delivery is scheduled by the end of 2020.

This vessel is meant to replace the current RV Belgica (A962) after more than 36 years of service. This new vessel not only offers more space for scientists and for research but is also being built with the highest standards of energy consumption and noise emission in line with her green ship status.

The ship will be an advanced 71.4 m long multidisciplinary research vessel fitted with equipment to operate in a variety of fields such as geology and sedimentology, fisheries, biology, chemistry, oceanography and hydrography; built with IMO polar code her mission will be to carry out research and survey tasks in the North Sea as well as in the Mediterranean and more northern areas.

The vessel will also serve as a platform for European cooperation and will be adapted to the existing European modern marine research infrastructures. This will bring new opportunities for Belgian researchers, such as research requiring the use of remote-controlled or autonomous vehicles (ROVs – remotely operated vehicle or AUVs – autonomous underwater vehicles).

The new research vessel will be owned by BELSPO. The OD Nature of the RBINS, in collaboration with the Ministry of Defense, will be responsible for the management of the ship.

Specifications:

• Length: 71.40 m
• Width: 16.80m
• Draft: 4.80 m
• Autonomy: 30 days
• Number days at sea: approximately 300 days/year
• Capacity for scientists and crew: 28 + 12
• Multipurpose research vessel: fisheries, geology, chemistry, biology, oceanography etc
• Study area: latitude 80° north (Spitsbergen) and latitude 28° north, bounded in the west by the mid-Atlantic ridge and in the east by longitude 36° east including the Mediterranean.
• Possibility of using AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles), ROVs (remote-controlled vehicles), tripods, buoys and other scientific equipment to be put at sea
• Possibility to do research at water depths of 5000 m
• Dynamic Positioning Class 2
• Acoustically Silent (DNV-GL Silent R)
• Ice Reinforcement Class ICE-1C
• 2 dropkeels
• Laboratory space(> 400m²): 5 dry labs, 3 wet labs, one scientific coordination and data acquisition room
• Space for containers (7 * ISO20 containers).



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