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Marine Log


European Research Institute AURORA BOREALIS concept image

March 14, 2008

Wärtsilä subsidiary to design revolutionary research icebreaker

Wärtsilä's ship design and marine consultancy subsidiary, SCHIFFKO GmbH, based in Hamburg, has been awarded a contract from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research of Bremerhaven, Germany, to design the revolutionary new European research icebreaker AURORA BOREALIS, which will have a deep-sea drilling capability.

The "AURORA BOREALIS" project is a major strategic European science infrastructure development for the next generations of polar researchers.

The contract, which was won in a public tender covers the initial design concept, general arrangement planning, and full tender documentation. The ship will facilitate research in ice and open water conditions in the fields of geology, geophysics, oceanography, biology, glaciology, bathymetry, meteorology, and atmosphere physics.

AURORA BOREALIS will set new standards in the fields of polar research and naval architecture.

Currently, no polar research vessel has the capability to navigate autonomously in pack ice outside the summer season. AURORA BOREALIS, however, is planned as a multi-purpose icebreaking research vessel for Arctic and Antarctic operations with the capability to autonomously navigate in ice with a thickness of up to 4.5 m. This will for the first time make possible all-year-round research, on for instance the effects of global climate change.

The ship will have a unique capability to perform scientific deep-sea drilling operations at water depths of up to 5,000 m with a penetration of up to 1,000 metres, even when amid drifting pack-ice fields. An innovative, high-performance dynamic positioning system will enable the ship to keep position in such a demanding environment.

The vessel will have a length between perpendiculars of 165 metres, the highest icebreaker classification, and more than 55 MW of propulsive power--considerably outperforming all currently operating research icebreakers. Even so, the ship's machinery is to be highly energy efficient, environmentally friendly, fully redundant, and allow for reliable and safe operations in the most remote and hostile polar regions.

SCHIFFKO's main challenge under this contract is to provide an innovative, technically sound and convincing ship design concept that optimally combines the wide range of tasks specified for "AURORA BOREALIS" by the international scientific community. This tough challenge is one that SCHIFFKO can meetr, as it did some twenty-five years ago when it designed the then revolutionary icebreaking research vessel "Polarstern" for the Alfred Wegener Institute.


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