Construction of the R/V Sikuliaq
The Sikuliaq, a global class ice-capable research vessel, is currently under construction at Marinette Marine Corporation, a shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin. The Sikuliaq will be launched in summer 2012 and then undergo a series of trials. After the series of trials, the vessel will then be transported from Marinette through the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway transit system, south to the Panama Canal, and then north to Alaska. The ship will be ready for unrestricted science operations in 2014.
About the Shipyard
Originally founded during World War II, Marinette Marine has built more than 1300 vessels. Some recent ships built by Marinette Marine include the U.S. naval vessel, the USS Freedom (2006), the USCG cutter Mackinaw (2005) and several Staten Island Ferries. The shipyard includes 300,000 square feet of indoor shipbuilding space and a ship launching facility for up to 4500 long tons.
About the Sikuliaq
The Sikuliaq, pronounced [see-KOO-lee-auk], will be a 261-foot oceanographic research ship capable of bringing scientists to the ice-choked waters of Alaska and the polar regions. When complete, the vessel will be one of the most advanced university research vessels in the world and will be able to break ice up to 2.5 feet thick. The Sikuliaq will be home ported in Alaska, at UAF's Seward Marine Center in Seward.
The vessel will be owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, as part of the U.S. academic research fleet. It will be used by scientists in the U.S. and international oceanographic community through the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System.
The need for this vessel was first expressed by marine scientists in the U.S. in 1973. After 36 years of development and the consideration of multiple vessel designs, construction began on the ship in December 2009. The vessel was designed by The Glosten Associates, a marine architecture and engineering firm in Seattle, in 2004.
The Sikuliaq will allow researchers to collect sediment samples directly from the seafloor, host remotely operated vehicles, use a flexible suite of winches to raise and lower scientific equipment, and conduct surveys throughout the water column and sea bottom using an extensive set of research instrumentation. The ship will also be able to transmit real-time information directly to classrooms all over the world. The vessel design strives to have the lowest possible environmental impact, including a low underwater radiated noise signature for marine mammal and fisheries work. The Sikuliaq will have accommodations for up to 24 scientists and students at a time, including those with disabilities.