November 17, 2009
STX Finland to build polar vessel for South Africa
STX Finland Oy and the South African Department of Environmental Affairs have signed a contract for construction of a Polar Supply and Research Vessel. The ship, with a value of approximately EUR 116 million will involve some 600 man-years of work. It will be build in the Rauma shipyard and it will be delivered in spring 2012.
The multi-purpose vessel will serve, among other things, as a supply vessel, research vessel, icebreaker, expedition vessel, as well as a passenger ship. It will replace Soth Africa's aging SA Agulhas
The ice-strengthened vessel will be approximately 134 m long and it will have accommodations for a crew of 45 and some 100 researchers or passengers.
Classified for carrying passengers, the Polar Supply and Research Vessel will be used to carry scientists and research equipment for the South African National Antarctic Program in the sea area between South Africa, the Antarctic islands and the Antarctica.
Able to spend several months out at sea, the ship will act as a mobile laboratory equipped for scientists to conduct various marine research projects. The vessel will also provide a continuous record of weather data for meteorological institutions around the world.
Equipped with a shelter and landing area for two Puma class helicopters, the ship will have laboratories, a gym, a library, and a small hospital.
Mr. Timo Suistio, Director of the Rauma shipyard, said that design work on the new research vessel will commence immediately and the ship will enter production in September 2010. The ship will be delivered to the Owner, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, in spring 2012."
Mr. Henry Valentine, Director: Antarctica and Islands, South African Department of Environmental Affairs, said that allocating this level of funding for the new vessel despite current pressures reflects the SA Government‘s commitment to the South African National Antarctic Program.
"The new ship, apart from its supply function, will be a catalyst to rebuild the deep-sea oceanography capacity in South Africa," he said. "This will also attract participation of international scientists and researchers, thus significantly contributing to research projects addressing new challenges and changing interests, for instance, climate change research."