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December 11, 2009

Marinette Marine to build ARRV

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has announced its intent to award a $123 million to Marinette Marine Corporation of Marinette, Wis. to build the 254-foot Alaska Region Research Vessel.

When complete, the vessel will be one of the most advanced university research vessels in the world and will be capable of breaking ice up to 2.5 feet thick. According to project leaders, the ARRV's home port will be in Alaska, most likely at UAF's Seward Marine Center.

"Ocean scientists need this ice-capable vessel now, more than ever before, to study the changes occurring in arctic waters," says Denis Wiesenburg, a co-principal investigator on the project and the dean of the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

The $123 million for the ship construction contract is funded entirely by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The total cost for the project is $200 million.

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. The award of a shipbuilding contract comes after 36 years of development and the consideration of multiple vessel designs, construction. The vessel was designed by The Glosten Associates, a marine architecture and engineering firm in Seattle, in 2004.

The ARRV 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 ARRV will have accommodations for up to 26 scientists and students at a time, including those with disabilities.


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