New marine research vessel for Belgium

New marine research vessel for Belgium The new Belgian research vessel is designed by Rolls-Royce and is to be built at Freire. Image: Rolls-Royce

After more than thirty years of service, Belgian marine research vessel Belgica is to be replaced, and the Belgian Federal Government decided to build a new modern research vessel which is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2020 to support the marine research community for the next thirty years.

The new research vessel project has been realised through a collaboration between the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), the Ministry of Defence and the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO). The order for the new vessel has gone to the Freire yard in Vigo, and the contract to deliver the ship’s design and equipment systems has bene placed with Rolls-Royce.

The IMO Polar code-compliant vessel will be designed to carry out research and survey tasks in the North Sea and its adjacent sea areas, but also in the Mediterranean and more northerly sea areas.

The research vessel will cater for the requirements of the Belgian marine scientific community when performing advanced marine research and education at sea. This will include research within the fields of geology and sedimentology, fisheries, biology, chemistry, oceanography (including meteorology). In addition, the vessel will be part of hydrography surveys.

“Three European countries have now chosen Rolls-Royce as a supplier of design and technology to their new research vessels; Belgium, Norway and the UK. These are all advanced, high-tech vessels that will carry out fundamental research at sea and below the seabed,” said Rolls-Royce’s Asbjørn Skaro, director Digital & Systems - Marine.

The new research vessel will be a UT 844 WP design. In addition, Rolls-Royce will supply the main propulsion system, including side thrusters, Promas integrated propulsion and manoeuvring system, power electric system and steering gear. A vital part of the systems delivery is also automation and control systems such as the propulsion control system, Unified Bridge and dynamic positioning (DP).

The project team responsible for the new research vessel is formed by the Belgian Defence, the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO) and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences – Operational Directorate Natural Environment (RBINS-OD Nature).

Detailed engineering and construction will take place at Freire’s shipyard in Vigo, Spain and the vessel is scheduled for delivery towards the end of 2020. Rolls-Royce currently has design and system deliveries for two other vessels under construction at Freire Shipyard.

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