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VIDEO: OceanX unveils its new exploration vessel

Written by Nick Blenkey
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OceanX’s new research vessel, OceanXplorer, in the fjords of Norway. [Credit: Taj Howe]

Non-profit ocean exploration and media production company OceanX has taken the wraps of its new exploration vessel, the R/V OceanXplorer.

Designed and built to be the most advanced combined marine research and media vessel in existence, OceanXplorer is both a floating, integrated marine research platform and a Hollywood-caliber media production studio.

Formerly named Alucia 2, the ship builds on the legacy of OceanX’s first research vessel, the M/V Alucia, and will become the centerpiece of OceanX’s mission to explore the ocean and bring it back to the world.

“I believe that ocean exploration is both more important and more exciting than space exploration and that OceanXplorer will show the world that this is true,” says Ray Dalio, co-Founder of OceanX and President of Dalio Philanthropies.

Dalio is founder, co-chairman and co-chief investment officer of Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, which he started out of his two-bedroom apartment in New York in 1975. He says that the new ship will take ocean explorers to never-before-seen undersea worlds and allow them to beam back what they encounter via social media, digital experiences, and a TV show. “It will be mind-blowing,” he promises.

His son, Mark Dalio, is co-founder and creative director of OceanX.

“At OceanX, we’ve long believed in and worked to harness the transformative power of media every day,” he says. “OceanXplorer will allow us to pair science and media together like never before and share the excitement and wonder of ocean exploration with a global audience in real time.”


The vessel has been created by the complete rebuild at Damen Shiprepair Rotterdam of the Volsted Surveyor, a Skipsteknisk ST-25 design advanced ROV survey vessel delivered from Spain’s Freire shipyard in 2010.

Nearly 286 feet in length, the ships, says OceanX, will bring the same boundary-pushing excitement to ocean exploration that audiences have grown accustomed to seeing on space expeditions.

OceanXplorer’s features include a 40-ton man-rated A-frame crane strong enough to launch submersibles, towed sonar arrays, and other heavy equipment; a resident helicopter and climate-controlled hangar; dedicated deployment systems that will allow for independent launch and recovery of piloted and autonomous underwater drones; and oceanographic sensor platforms.


The ship also features two manned Triton submersibles, each of which can dive to depths greater than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) for up to eight hours, and a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) that can explore depths up to 6,000 meters (19,685 feet) – exploring locations in a way no human has before.

OceanXplorer’s underwater optical modem allows livestreaming video and data from untethered submersibles in the depths of the ocean to social media feeds and classrooms in real time.

New discoveries will be made onboard using state-of-the-art molecular biology and imaging laboratories that allow onboard DNA sequencing.

The ship’s media studio and filmmaking capabilities have been developed in partnership with filmmaker and ocean explorer James Cameron and the Avatar Alliance Foundation and in consultation with production designer N.C. Page Buckner, whose credits include One Night in Miami, The Amazing Spiderman and Iron Man 2). It will stream its findings to audiences worldwide, delivering groundbreaking scientific news at the moment of discovery.

Building on a legacy of partnering with some of the best-know natural history documentary filmmakers in the world, OceanXplorer will be chronicled in a previously announced upcoming National Geographic series with the working title of “Mission OceanX” which is set to premiere in 171 countries and 43 languages on National Geographic.

The ship is currently in the Red Sea, where it will host scientists from leading institutions around the world to study global-warming-resistant super corals.

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