James Cook to sail from Norway

Two Norwegian companies have won the contract to build the UK's latest research ship. A statement from Skipsteknisk AS said it has won the contract to design and Flekkefjord Slipp & Maskinfabrikk AS the building contracts for Britain's new 'state of the art' oceanographic research vessel.

The tender was hotly contested and NERC (Natural Environmental Research Council) in Southampton, Britain's leading environmental research organisation under the department of trade and industry, selected the two Norwegian companies to replace 'RRS Charles Darwin'. Skipsteknisk Flekkefjord Slipp & Maskinfabrikk designed and built the world's most sophisticated research vessels, the G.O. Sars, launched last year, under guidance from the University of Bergen and the Norwegian Institute for Maritime Research there -- the two institutions own the vessel. ST 345, to be known as the James Cook will have a gross tonnage of 5500 tonnes, a length of 89.2 m and a beam of 18.6 m.

It will have 54 berths, 32 for scientists. It will undertake research on climate changes, pollution, ocean circulation, bio-diversity and other issues. It will operation worldwide from the tropics to the edge of the ice sheets.

One of Skipsteknisk's successes has been in building noise-reduced research vessels the James Cook benefit from this.

The James Cook will be operated by the NERC's Research Ship Unit based at the Southampton Oceanography Centre which has been running the RRS Discovery and RRS Charles Darwin.

The Institute in Southampton is one of the UK's seven research councils and it has a budget of about £300 million a year.

James Cook is due for delivery in the summer of 2006.

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