Wisconsin shipbuilder Marinette Marine said it will build a research vessel for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, US, under a new $123m deal.

The 254ft Alaska region research vessel will be one of the world’s most advanced research ships and will be capable of breaking ice up to 2.5ft thick, according to the shipbuilder.

Marinette Marine president Richard McCreary said 60% of materials will come from Wisconsin and Michigan suppliers and the remaining will be procured from other suppliers around the country and overseas.

The research vessel is specifically designed to operate in seasonal Arctic sea ice and open waters surrounding Alaska.

In addition, the ship is designed for low environmental impact, including reduced underwater radiated noise levels for improved fisheries and acoustics research, as well as lower stack emissions for atmospheric research.

The ship can carry more than 500 researchers and students every year, spend as many as 300 days per year at sea and will be operational in support of oceanographic research for at least 30 years.

The actual construction of the research vessel is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2010.