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Building started on multi-role icebreaker

When Rieber Shipping A/S of Bergen, Norway announces that it is having a new ship built, the marine world tends to take notice. Its last newbuild, commissioned in 1990, was the M/V Polar Circle, an innovative combined Antarctic research and educational cruise vessel that generated great interest from the industry. Among many noteworthy features, it was fitted with reportedly the first commercial application of a full ECDIS system. Patently of immense versatility, Polar Circle was soon chartered and then purchased by the British Royal Navy and quickly renamed HMS Endurance as the long overdue replacement to a famous predecessor. The company's latest project, an 262.5-ft. (80-m) icebreaker curr e n t l y under construction at Kvaerner Eleven Leirvik, also in Norway, is certain to be studied closely as the multi-role concept is advanced even further.

Rieber's existing fleet comprises a number of high ice class seismic exploration ships and four icebreaking research and expedition vessels which have extended experience in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Several of the company's vessels have been extensively involved in the Canadian High Arctic (Rieber has a branch office in Newfoundland) and M/V Polar Duke has been trading continuously, summer and winter since 1984, from Punta Arenas to the Antarctic Peninsula for the U.S. Scientific Mission. In order to utilize some of these vessels during the off-season they have also been equipped with maneuvering, navigation and handling equipment so that they are able to operate effectively as offshore survey and ROV support vessels. It is against this background that the Rieber in-house design team developed the new vessel. Nevertheless, according to Managing Director Sven Rong, the decision to build a vessel capable of fulfilling a wide spectrum of roles was not just taken to attract a broader range of potential charter customers. Many leading research institutions, with which the company is closely associated, face ever more restricted budgets and high vessel operating costs. This knowledge led to the conclusion that a significant under deck carrying capacity together with deck container fittings on a vessel equipped with oceanographic, hydrographic and geophysical research facilities would provide them with a cost effective solution the same vessel could keep the remote bases supplied with stores and equipment.

The ship will include provision for 3,000 cu. m. of under deck cargo, two separate stabilization tanks to extend the weather window when carrying out research work and facilities for ROV support, seabed mapping and pipeline route surveying. A fully redundant dynamic positioning system combined with sufficient deadweight will also enable the vessel to carry out cable laying duties. Mr. Rong considers that the ROV support capability is particularly significant. "This is the first vessel to be purpose built for ROV duties for a long time and I am certain that the market will welcome a vessel that meets all the latest safety and redundancy requirements," he told MR/EN.

An ice tank in Helsinki, Finland was used in the extensive model testing program which helped develop the final 262-ft. (80-m) x 56-ft. (17-m) x 20-ft. (6.15-m), 1,800-dwt double hull design. Power from two Ulstein Bergen BRM 6 diesels each developing 2,550 kW at 720 rpm will be transmitted through a Tacke "twin in/single out" gearbox to an Ulstein CP propeller inside a nozzle giving a maximum speed of 14 knots, a Brunvoll forward azimuthing thruster providing emergency "take you home" propulsion. A heat recovery system and an economic hull form will ensure maximum fuel economy estimated at 9.5 tons/day at 12 knots with an endurance of around 40,000 nautical miles. Electrical power, a prime consideration on a scientific research ship where consumption is generally heavy, will be provided by two 2,200-kW shaft generators with two 600-kW auxiliary generators and a 150-kW emergency set giving 450 and 230V 60Hz plus 230/120V UPS 60/50 Hz for laboratory spaces.

The aft deck helicopter pad has been designed to accept a Super Puma and refueling arrangements, involving dedicated aviation fuel tanks, will be to the highest safety standards. The decks are engineered to be capable of taking heavy vehicles, and three cranes are included, although one would normally be restricted to ROV deployment. Research facilities include both wet and dry laboratories, with direct access to the extensive research deck area, and a separate scientific store. Provision is made for the installation of two additional container laboratories, connection points to all necessary facilities including stabilized power being provided.

Around 65 berths out of the total of 80 in 40 cabins would be available to the charterer and hospital, day room, dining room, gymnasium and sauna facilities are also provided. Classified by Det Norske Verita (DNV) to DNV Wl, the exceptionally well equipped bridge will incorporate ECDIS, dynamic positioning with separate joystick and conventional back-up in wheelhouse and crow's nest, GPS, GMDSS, HPR tracking and taut wire, three radars, two gyros, and several echosounders. A TV monitoring system involving 20 cameras will cover most areas of the vessel and the engine room computer monitored to ICS class. The vessel is being constructed to DNV classification as an icebreaker and to Norwegian Shipcontrol, SOLAS and IMO rules governing special purpose vessels.




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