Contract awarded for new research ship
30 March 2010
The UK's leading environmental research organisation has commissioned a state-of-the art scientific research ship to replace the RRS Discovery, which was built in 1962 and is coming to the end of her scientifically useful working life.
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has today awarded a contract to a Spanish shipyard - C.N.P. Freire, S.A. - under public procurement rules. The total project cost of bringing the new vessel into service is £75 million.
Artist's impression of the new RRS Discovery.
The ship will operate worldwide, enabling cutting edge scientific research. The ship's design will allow it to work in higher sea-states, complementing the work of NERC's other research vessel, the RRS James Cook.
Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council, Professor Alan Thorpe, explains why having a new ship is vital for environmental researchers:
"This new research ship will provide a state-of-the-art platform for researchers to address some of the world's most pressing environmental issues. It will enable them to make measurements of the oceans leading to vital evidence regarding climate change, marine ecosystems and underwater earthquakes and landslides, which will, in turn, deliver significant economic and societal benefits. I am very pleased that UK science will continue to have vital world-class facilities well into the future."
The new vessel will take over the name 'Discovery' and will be operated by NERC's National Marine Facilities Division, based at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton.
The shipbuilder, C.N.P. Freire, S.A. has more than 100 years' experience in building research vessels, offshore vessels, and merchant and fishing vessels, specialising in those with high technological requirements. In 2006 Freire built a research vessel for the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, the Spanish National Research Council, and has recently been awarded the contract for an oceanographic vessel for Qatar University. The company also has an excellent reputation for repair and conversion work.
The design of the new research ship has been developed by design company Skipsteknisk AS, a leader in the design of sophisticated and noise reduced research vessels. Skipsteknisk AS also designed the RRS James Cook.
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1. The new vessel will be operated by the Natural Environment Research Council's National Marine Facilities Division based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. This unit operates the existing oceanographic vessels, RRS Discovery and RRS James Cook.
2. The RRS Discovery has been supporting researchers since 1962 and is now coming to the end of her working life. In 1992 she underwent a conversion which included lengthening the original hull by 10 metres and fitting completely new superstructure and power-plant.
3. 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 public procurement rules.
4. The BIS Large Facilities Capital Fund will provide £48m of funding for the project. The remainder of the project cost will be met by NERC.
5. The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is the UK's main agency for funding and managing world-class research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. It coordinates some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on earth, and much more. NERC receives around £400m a year from the government's science budget, which is used to fund independent research and training.
Press release: 13/10
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