£36m contract awarded for scientific research ship
2 July 2004
Britain's leading environmental research organisation has commissioned a state-of-the art scientific research ship to replace the RRS Charles Darwin.
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has today awarded the contract, worth approximately £36m, to a Norwegian shipyard, Flekkefjord Slipp & Maskinfabrikk AS, under European Union procurement rules.
The 5,000 tonne ship, the James Cook, will operate worldwide - from the tropics to the edge of the ice sheets - enabling cutting edge scientific research. The ship's design will enable it to work in higher sea-states than the Research Council's other dedicated research vessels. It will be more manoeuvrable, have more scientific berths, and better technical facilities.
Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council, Professor John Lawton explains why this new ship is essential.
"We need year-round access to dedicated research ships for the foreseeable future. The James Cook will help answer the biggest environmental questions facing us in the next century: in climate change, evolution, ocean circulation and biodiversity. The research it undertakes will have an impact on all of us."
The ship will be operated by NERC's Research Ship Unit based at Southampton Oceanography Centre. Chairman of the procurement board for the new ship, and director of the centre, Professor Howard Roe, is pleased that the contract has now been awarded.
"The James Cook will be one of the most sophisticated research vessels in the world; she will enable UK scientists to continue and expand their leading role in both national and international marine research programmes- the outputs of which are increasingly seen as essential to a proper understanding of our planet"
The shipbuilder Flekkefjord Slipp & Maskinfabrikk AS has a long reference list in building research vessels, offshore vessels and sophisticated fishing vessels. In 2003 the yard delivered the new "G.O. Sars" the flag vessel of the Institute of Marine Research, Norway. The design of the James Cook has been developed by design company Skipsteknisk AS, a leader in the design of sophisticated and noise reduced research vessels.
Following initial design work, the hull building will commence in January 2005. The ship will be completed summer 2006.
NERC Press Office
Natural Environment Research Council
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
Swindon, SN2 1EU
Tel: 01793 411561
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1. The new vessel will be operated by the Natural Environment Research Council's Research Ship Unit based at the Southampton Oceanography Centre. This unit operates the existing oceanographic vessels, RRS Discovery and RRS Charles Darwin. Now a name has been decided, the James Cook, NERC must apply for a warrant from the Queen to add the words "Royal Research Ship" (RRS).
2. The RRS Charles Darwin has been supporting researchers since 1985 and is now coming to the end of its working life.
3. James Cook statistics: length 90m, breadth 18.6m, depth to main working deck 9.5m, displacement in excess of 5000 tonnes, a total complement of 54 berths including 32 scientific berths.
4. Flekkefjord Slipp & Maskinfabrikk AS specialise in the construction of research vessels, fishing vessels and offshore vessels. During 2003 Flekkefjord Slipp & Maskinfabrikk completed the build and delivery of another sophisticated research vessel the R/V G.O. Sars to the Institute of Marine Research / University of Bergen. Another company Skipsteknisk AS will be undertaking the major portion of design work. Skipsteknisk AS has considerable experience designing modern, advanced research vessels.
5. The contract concludes a shipyard evaluation and selection exercise following a "Statement of Requirements" and "Concept Arrangement" developed by the NERC in conjunction with Robin A. Williams & Co. Ltd, a naval architect and marine engineering consultancy. The procurement competition has been conducted in accordance with the restricted procedure under EU procurement rules.
6. The DTI/OST Large Facilities Capital Fund will provide £25m of funding for the project over the period 2004-05 to 2006-07. The remainder of the project cost will be met by NERC.
7. The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is one of the UK's research councils. It uses a budget of about £300m a year to fund and carry out impartial scientific research in the sciences of the environment. NERC trains the next generation of independent environmental scientists. It is addressing some of the key questions facing mankind such as global warming, renewable energy and sustainable economic development.
Press release: 20/04
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