October 7, 2004

Lamont Doherty acquires research vessel

The 3D seismic research vessel Western Legend is to have a new career--as "the world's most capable academic rearch vessel."

In a dceal brokered by Marcon International, the ship has been sold by WesternGeco LLC to Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Palisades, N.Y.

It will replace the Lamont-operated 72.2 m x 14,0 m, 3,200 hp R/V Maurice Ewing, which has accumulated well over half a million miles of track.

The National Science Foundation provided funding of more than $20 million to support the purchase and refitting of the Western Legend, which has operated for several years as a commercial seismic exploration vessel. Following a year-long outfitting with modern laboratories and scientific equipment, it will become the world's most capable academic research vessel utilizing acoustic and seismic technologies .

The DNV +1A1 Ice C classed, 71.5m x 17.0m x 7.60m depth vessel was purpose built as a seismic vessel in 1991 by Ulstein Verft of Norway . It is powered by two Bergen BRM-6 main engines producing 7,200 BHP with a bollard pull of abt. 86 tonnes.

The vessel will carry a total complement/science party of 55/34 persons.
Once fully reactivated, the vessel will be reclassed with ABS.

The vessel had worked on seismic surveys as far afield as offshore Angola and Australia's Northwest Shelf utilizing multistreamer spreads with 4,800m digital streamers and sleeve air guns. In 1997 the seismic capability of the "Legend" was upgraded in Singapore with the installation of a new B-deck, construction of new compartments for workshop, gunshack, installation of two new towing winches, 4 pairs of streamer reels and 12 utility winches.

"The purchase of this new ship is the beginning of a new era in Lamont ship operations," said G. Michael Purdy, Director of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "The understanding of complex Earth processes has reached a level of sophistication that demands imaging capabilities superior to what is currently available to the academic community. Western Legend will be fitted to become a crucial state-of-the-art research tool to further our knowledge of Earth, providing an ever closer and more detailed picture of this dynamic planet."

Western Legend will be capable of towing four 6 kilometer long streamers with a maximum length of two 10,000 m arrays and be equipped to carry out two- and three-dimensional imaging of the ocean floor and the Earth's deep interior.

These seismic cross sections, like CAT scans and sonograms in medicine, provide a "direct look" into the Earth. What will be gleaned about sea floor spreading, earthquakes, magma flow, gas hydrate deposits, continental drift, and more will expand scientific knowledge about Earth and contribute to the ability of humans to withstand its extreme forces. Newly created laboratory spaces will be similar to those available on the "Ewing" and deck space configurations can be optimized for ocean bottom handling operations and general oceanography.

When operating as an academic research vessel, the Western Legend will be owned by The National Science Foundation, operated by the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and under the advisement of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), an organization of 62 academic institutions and National Laboratories involved in oceanographic research.

It will set sail as a research vessel, serving the U.S. University research community in 2006, under a new name.

The receiving systems used by "Western Legend" to record the sounds that probe the Earth's interior are substantially more sophisticated than that onboard R/V Maurice Ewing. This will allow greatly improved capabilities of imaging the Earth's deep interior without the need to increase the level of sounds transmitted into the ocean. This is fundamentally important to the research community's ability to make progress in its studies of the Earth's environment while minimizing possible impacts upon marine life.

Since 1953, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University has maintained full time operation of a research vessel, the Western Legend now being its fourth. Combined, these four vessels have circumnavigated the globe at least 20 times, covering three million nautical miles.

WesternGeco, a division of Schlumberger Limited and the world's largest seismic company, provides comprehensive worldwide reservoir imaging, monitoring, and development services, with the most extensive seismic crews and data processing centers in the industry, as well as the world's largest multiclient seismic library. Services range from 3D and time-lapse (4D) seismic surveys to multicomponent surveys for delineating prospects and reservoir management.

This is the 14th seismic vessel sold by Marcon International, Inc. for WesternGeco since 2000. Marcon acted as sole broker in the transaction, which took just over two years to complete.

After drydocking for inspection earlier this summer, WesternGeco delivered the vessel from Lyngdahl, Norway to the U.S. for the closing. During the 1980's, Marcon assisted in the purchase of the 1981 built "Robert Gordon Sproul" by Scripps Institution of Oceanography of La Jolla, Calif., from Gulf of Mexico operators and to-date this year has sold or chartered a total of thirty-five vessels and barges. Sales are pending on five additional vessels expected to close within the next thirty days


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