Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has received an order for construction of a wide-area seabed research vessel from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), and an agreement has been signed. The vessel on order will efficiently advance wide-area research into seafloor resources, its comprehensive research capabilities to include elucidation of mineral and ore deposit origins and formation conditions, and will also enable contributions to disaster prevention research. Construction is to get under way at MHI's Shimonoseki Shipyard & Machinery Works in Yamaguchi Prefecture within the current fiscal year, with completion scheduled for March 2016.
The wide-area seabed research vessel on order will be approximately 100 meters (m) in length and 19m in width, with gross tonnage near 5,500 tons. To efficiently conduct survey research of ocean floor resources, it will be capable of operating such state-of-the-art equipment as a seismic research system for investigating crustal structure, large piston corers and a seafloor-mounted excavator for collecting seabed samples, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). Sea speed will be approximately 12 knots, with a crew capacity of 65. The vessel on order will also be outfitted with a marine research laboratory enabling swift analysis of collected samples without any time-lag deterioration.
Selection of the shipyard was made through an open proposal submission process. MHI was initially included among the pool of candidates in recognition of its technological strengths, and ultimately chosen by JAMSTEC to construct its new research vessel.
In recent years MHI has constructed a number of cutting-edge research vessels. Among them are the Shinsei Maru, delivered to JAMSTEC for studying the marine ecosystem off the coast of Tohoku in northeast Honshu, and the Hakurei, delivered to Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) to study marine resources.
Going forward, through construction of the research vessel newly ordered by JAMSTEC MHI looks to contribute to research into Japan's marine resources. The company also intends to leverage the technological strengths to be cultivated through the vessel's construction and apply them to proactive initiatives to attract further orders for research vessels.