Seaspan delivers again for Canadian science; new RCRVs take shape at Gulf Island

CCGS Capt. Jacques Cartier

The promise of new orders and a couple of prominent deliveries — led by the latest addition to Canada’s oceangoing fleet — kept North American shipbuilders engaged in the research and survey sector during the past year.

In the wake of the pioneering CCGS Sir John Franklin, Seaspan Shipyards delivered Canada’s second offshore fisheries science vessel (OFSV) in November under the National Shipbuilding Strategy. CCGS Capt. Jacques Cartier, named for the 16th-century French explorer, now serves the Canadian Coast Guard from its port in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

CCGS Capt. Jacques Cartier
Seaspan Shipyards delivered the CCGS Capt. Jacques Cartier in November 2019. The 208-foot OFSV is now based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

The 208-foot ship, designed in collaboration with Vard Marine, will be the primary offshore platform for Fisheries and Oceans Canada to study marine ecosystems and the impacts of climate change. Capt. Jacques Cartier also will support search and rescue operations and environmental response when needed.

At the heart of the diesel-electric propulsion system are three Caterpillar 3512C HD main engines coupled to a generator providing 1,550 ekW. The ship also is equipped with a Wartsila bow thruster. To get to the research site and stay on task once there, the OFSV has a cruising range of 6,400 nautical miles and 13 berths for crew and officers. Its cruising speed is 8 knots, with a top speed of 12.5 knots.

Like its sibling, Capt. Jacques Cartier is outfitted with advanced trawls, wet and dry labs and a deployable Selmar drop keel loaded with an array of sensors to support the ship’s endeavors. The deck cranes are from TTS, hydraulics from Hawboldt and a ballast water treatment system from Hyde. Navigation and communications equipment includes two Raytheon NautoScan radar units and a Simrad FS70 trawl sonar.

In addition to Vard Marine and Thales Canada, which were responsible for the ship’s electronics systems, more than 600 suppliers across the nation contributed to the construction of the vessel, according to Seaspan.

“The scientific work that will be undertaken on CCGS Capt. Jacques Cartier and her sister ships will undoubtedly enhance our understanding of our marine ecosystems and the impacts of climate change,” Bernadette Jordan, minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, said upon delivery of the ship. “By investing in the Coast Guard, our shipbuilding industry and Canadian science, we are moving forward to best protect our environment while supporting economic growth.”

The third OFSV in the series, CCGS John Cabot, was launched in July and underwent sea trials in August. It hit the water 97 percent complete despite additional safety protocols adopted by Seaspan’s North Vancouver shipyard due to the coronavirus, the company said. The ship will be stationed in St. John’s, Newfoundland after delivery this fall.

South of the border, All American Marine of Bellingham, Wash., completed construction of the 77-foot Shearwater for the Duke University Marine Lab (DUML). The aluminum catamaran features a hydrofoil-assisted hull form by Teknicraft (see profile on page 38).

The new vessel is home-ported at DUML in Beaufort, N.C., near the Outer Banks. In addition to providing a research platform for scientists from the marine lab and other institutions, Shearwater will serve as a classroom for students on excursions from Chesapeake Bay to the Florida Keys. It has overnight accommodations for 14 and an impressive cruising speed of 24 knots.

“As a seafarer I might be biased, but I think that this vessel really brings the ‘marine’ back to the marine lab,” Capt. Matthew Dawson states on the website for Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

Following up on the success of Bob and Betty Beyster in 2019, Armstrong Marine USA of Port Angeles, Wash., announced the delivery of the 42-foot Benthic Cat to Orca Maritime in early January. Both catamarans feature Volvo Penta IPS propulsion pods driven by a pair of Volvo Penta D11 510-hp inboard engines, providing a cruising speed of 27 knots and a top speed of 32 knots.

Orca Maritime, a mapping and surveying company based in Imperial Beach, Calif., will deploy the boat in support of Defense Department initiatives, environmental agencies, the energy sector and other commercial enterprises. To launch and recover autonomous underwater vehicles and remotely operated surface vehicles, Benthic Cat is equipped with a hydraulic A-frame, a Pullmaster PL5 hydraulic winch and a Morgan Marine 200.3 crane. A Northern Lights 9-kW diesel generator provides auxiliary power.

For navigation and communications, the boat features a Garmin/NMEA electronics package and a dynamic positioning system. Crew accommodations include two interior work stations, a four-person sleeping cuddy, head with shower, and a refrigerator/freezer.

At Gulf Island Fabrication in Houma, La., construction continued on three new regional-class research vessels (RCRVs) for the National Science Foundation. Oregon State University is spearheading the $365 million project on behalf of the NSF and will operate the first vessel in the series, the 199-foot Taani. Delivery is scheduled for July 2021.

In addition to onboard labs and deck space to support research on ocean acidification, hypoxia and sea level rise, the ships will be equipped with dynamic positioning systems to conduct detailed seafloor mapping. The RCRVs will have a range of more than 5,000 nautical miles and include berths for 16 scientists and 13 crewmembers. Cruising speed will be 11.5 knots, with a maximum speed of 13 knots. Oregon State expects the ships will be able to stay at sea for about 21 days before returning to port, routinely sending sensor data to shore via satellite.

Taani will be followed in January 2022 by Resolution, which will be operated by the East Coast Oceanographic Consortium. The group is led by the University of Rhode Island (URI) and co-founded by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of New Hampshire School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering. Resolution’s home port will be URI’s Narragansett Bay campus.

In September 2019, the NSF announced that the third ship in the series, Gilbert R. Mason, will be operated by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) and the University of Southern Mississippi. Gulf Island held a keel-laying ceremony for the vessel in November and anticipates delivery in July 2022. The ship, named for the lifelong civil rights leader and physician to mariners along the Gulf Coast, will have dual home ports in Houma, La., and Gulfport, Miss.

“We appreciate the NSF for recognizing the importance of building these vessels and look forward to the research they will provide … It’s also a double win for our state with Louisiana shipbuilders constructing the vessels here and LUMCON operating one as well,” said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.

For designers and shipyards looking to the research sector for future work, at least five vessels were in play as American Ship Review went to press. A potential two-vessel order from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) led the way.

The agency announced in February that it was in the process of acquiring two new ships as part of its fleet rebuilding effort. The first ship, to be named Oceanographer, will be home-ported in Honolulu. The second, to be named Discoverer, will be assigned a home port at a later date. Both vessels will be continuing the legacies of their NOAA namesakes, which served from 1966 to 1996 and from 1967 to 1996, respectively.

Preliminary design work was awarded to Dakota Creek Industries, Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors and VT Halter Marine. NOAA said it expected to award contracts for the construction of the ships by the end of 2020. Both will be built in the United States, with timelines and target launch dates to be determined.

In July, All American Marine announced that it had received an order from NOAA for a 50-foot catamaran to conduct research in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The aluminum vessel will be constructed to U.S. Coast Guard Subchapter T standards for up to 18 personnel. Duties will include seafloor mapping, habitat characterization, and monitoring the health of ocean species in the preserve off the coast of Washington state.

The boat will be powered by two Cummins QSC8.3 engines linked to propellers. The hull design by Teknicraft includes a wave piercer between the sponsons to provide additional stability and reduce drag.

Deck features include 250 square feet of aft working space, an InterOcean conduction wire winch, hauling winch, and a Morgan Marine 300.4 crane. For crew comfort, there will be a fully-equipped galley, dinette with settee/bunk, kitchenette, and wet head. A delivery date was not disclosed.

On the Great Lakes, a $10 million anonymous donation will allow the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to obtain a new research vessel to replace the 65-year-old Neeskay, a converted Army T-boat. The newbuild, to be named Maggi Sue, will be “the (region’s) first multidisciplinary vessel built from the keel up to conduct the kind of research that we do,” said Val Klump, dean of UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences.

Unlike Neeskay, the 120-foot Maggi Sue will have berths for up to 18 people, allowing scientists and crew to remain on the water for longer periods without having to return to port. Research duties will include the study of hypoxia in Lake Michigan, invasive species, and tracking contaminants that originate from people. To assist these missions, the vessel will have dynamic positioning and a walk-in environmental chamber that can mimic exact conditions in the lake, Klump said.

Seacraft Design of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., will design Maggi Sue. A builder has not yet been announced.

By Professional Mariner Staff