Sikuliaq Alaska Region Research Vessel, United States of America
The Sikuliaq is a research vessel being built by Fincantieri for the US's National Science Foundation (NSF) and is one of the most sophisticated university research vessels in the world. Its home port will be at the UAF Seward Marine Center in Seward, Alaska, where the vessel will be used by US scientists and international oceanographic community.
Fincantieri is building the vessel at its Marinette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin at an estimated cost of $120m. The design of the ship was completed in 2004. Its construction began in April 2011 and it was launched in October 2012.
As of October 2012, 75% of the vessel's construction has been completed. It is scheduled to be operational by January 2014.
The research vessel will be able to break ice up to 80cm thick and will work in the Arctic, the Bering Strait and the Gulf of Alaska. It will be used for oceanographic research for a minimum of 30 years.
Specially designed to study sensory systems and climate change in the Arctic region, the ship will also be utilised to examine the marine ecosystem.
The Sikuliaq will replace the 1966-built and now retired R/V Alpha Helix research vessel. The Helix, owned by the NSF, was sold to Stabbert Maritime in August 2007.
The vessel will accommodate 26 scientists and students. Annually, 500 researchers and students can be accommodated for 300 days at sea. The ship will be equipped with technology that allows researchers to share information with research facilities across the globe in real-time.
Scientific instruments and remote controlled vehicles installed on the ship will be operated by a group of winches. The winches will move the instruments above and below the water line to collect sediment samples from the sea floor.
The vessels will be equipped with modern satellite communications to connect to students in classrooms. The vessel will be furnished with a dynamic positioning function, precision vessel motion detectors and an advanced vessel control system.
The researchers will be accommodated in double occupancy staterooms. Staterooms will be connected with phones for internal communication. The vessel will be furnished with a science library/lounge, a conference room and an exercise room.
The sides of the hull will be joined by reamers to cut down the ice pressures during sailing. Hull friction will be reduced by swamping the area of contact between the hull and ice. The bow will be protected from riding up on the stronger ice by placing an ice wedge beneath it. The ice wedge will be fitted with bow thrusters.
The hull of the ship is designed to move smoothly in Arctic sea ice and Alaskan waters. The sides of the hull will be joined by reamers to cut down the ice pressures during sailing. Hull friction will be reduced by swamping the area of contact between the hull and ice. The bow will be protected from riding up on the stronger ice by placing an ice wedge beneath it. The ice wedge will be fitted with bow thrusters.
The vessel will be fitted with diesel-electric propulsion and steerable propulsion stern thrusters. The propulsion system will comprise ship service diesel generators and power transition instruments. A pulse width modulation frequency converter will be used to run two 2,238kW, 900RPM, 690V, 60Hz, main propulsion motors.
A Tees White Gill type T3-QR 40 bow thruster will be installed and assembled with a minimum 3 RPM 360-degree azimuthal steering control. The motor will run on pulse width modulating frequency converter supply.
The fuel and ballast capacity will be 148,000gal and 200,000gal, respectively. The engine will generate 5,750BHP. The ship will use two Z-drive propulsion units.
The vessel will be operated by the University of Fairbanks. The ship is designed by The Glosten Associates, a Seattle-based naval architects firm.
The project is being financed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.