Research in the polar regions can only be carried out by sophisticated research vessels. Modern research vessels that are capable of penetrating into the central Arctic are rare. A new state-of-the-art research icebreaker is therefore urgently required to fulfill the needs of European polar research. The heavy Icebreaker, Deep-Sea Drilling, and Multi-Purpose Research Vessel, the ‘Aurora Borealis’ was designed by Wärtsilä Ship Design.
When it enters service in 2016, it will be the most advanced Polar Research Vessel in the world, and used to support climate/environmental research.
• Icebreaker, Polar Class 1, diesel-electric, with 81 MW propulsion power
• Deep-sea drilling in closed sea-ice cover with more than 2 m thickness Rig specification: drilling in more than 5000 m water depth with 1000 m penetration. Riserless drilling technology
• Dynamic positioning system for on-station drilling within closed sea-ice cover and open water
• Two moon pools, 7 x 7 m each, one for deep-sea drilling, one for deploying other scientific underwater equipment (ROV, AUV, etc.)
• Operation temperature: fully functional down to –50°C, working capacity +45°C to –30°C
• Complete twin hull design and full redundancy in ship’s safety systems
• Advanced ice-forecasting and management with autonomous, multiple helicopter support
• Modularized mobile laboratory systems for mission specific laboratories
Length overall: 199.85 m
Molded breadth: 49.00 m
Max. draught: 13 m
Max. speed in open water: 15.5 kn
Cruising speed in open water: 12 kn
Scientists and crews: 120 persons
Max. period of operation: 90 days
The new technological features will include dynamic positioning in closed sea-ice cover, advanced ice-forecasting and management, with autonomous, multiple helicopter support and the deployment and operation of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) from the twin moon-pools.
The German Science Council evaluated the project AURORA BOREALIS in May 2005 and recommended the construction of the research icebreaker in 2006. The German Federal Ministry for Science and Education (BMBF) followed the recommendation of the German Science Council and funded the preparatory work for AURORA BOREALIS.
Shipbuilding Tribune Staff, January 9, 2012; Image: wartsila