Build starts on Alaskan Research Ship

By Keith Henderson at May 05, 2011 08:54
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Last month the keel laying ceremony for the Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV) R/V Sikuliaq, took place at the Marinette Marine Corporation (MMC) shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin.

The vessel is owned by the National Science Foundation and will be home ported in Alaska, at University of Alaska’s Seward Marine Center. The LOA is 261.5ft, maximum beam 52.0ft, draft is 19.5ft and loaded displacement is 4,065 long tons. She has a maximum speed of 14 kn in calm water.

Several challenges had to be overcome in the design of the propulsion system for this research ship. A low noise and cavitation free propeller blade operation at tow load speeds yet also the ability of operating in ice near 2.5 feet thick was an important part of the propulsion specification. This is essential to enable sensitive measurements and listening devices to be used for mammal and fish research.

A twin propeller diesel electric propulsion system was chosen, featuring Wärtsilä steerable pods with pulling propellers of sufficient strength for operation in polar ice conditions as well as incorporating a very low radiated underwater noise signature.

A pulse width modulation frequency converter runs two Siemens 2,462 kW, 900 rpm, 690V, 60Hz, main propulsion motors driving each pod. Electric power on board is supplied by two MTU 16V4000 gensets of 1,750 kW plus two MTU 12V4000 gensets of 1310 kW. In addition, there is an emergency MTU 335 kW genset. For manoevring there is one Tees White Gill, T30R40 bow thruster of 686 kW.

Completion date for the vessel is April 2013 and following acceptance, will leave the Great Lakes via the St Lawrence Seaway, head southward, through the Panama Canal and arrive in her home port of Seward during the summer of 2014, becoming operational later that year.

Caption: The R/V Sikuliaq Alaska Region Research Vessel. The design is based on science mission
requirements developed by the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System community.

Image credit: Marinette Marine Corporation

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