Oregon State University is looking for a shipbuilder to construct a new 193-foot research vessel to add to the U.S. academic and marine science research fleet.
The new vessel will have a range of 7,064 nautical miles, a cruising speed of 11 knots, and will be equipped to stay out at sea for 21 days before returning to port. There will be 16 berths for scientists and 13 for crew members.
The so-called “regional class research vessels” will be used for studying coastal waters beyond the continental rise as part of the U.S. academic fleet and available to ocean scientists for federal and state-funded research and educational programs.
A preliminary design of the vessel was just completed by The Glosten Associates, a naval architecture firm based in Seattle.
Although similar in size, the new ship will differ from the existing RV Oceanus, built in 1975 and operated by OSU, its sister ships, Endeavor, operated by the University of Rhode Island, and the retired Wecoma, according to Clare Reimers, a professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and the project’s co-leader.
“This class of ships will enable researchers to work much more efficiently at sea because of better handling and stability, more capacity for instrumentation and less noise,” Reimers said. “The design also has numerous ‘green’ features, including an optimized hull form, waste heat recovery, LED lighting, and variable speed power generation.”
Plans for the vessel are being funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation, which in 2013 selected Oregon State as the lead institution to finalize the design and coordinate the construction of the vessel plus up to two more.
For the next step in the project, Oregon State University will issue a request for information (RFI) on Monday, May 2, to shipyards that may be interested in the vessel construction phase.
“The Request for Information issued on May 2 is a chance for us to make final tweaks in the preliminary design and to open up a dialogue with industry about the project,” said Demian Bailey, Oregon State University’s former marine superintendent and a co-leader on the project. “Once we issue the RFP this summer, it will become more difficult to alter the design or other project documents.”
After reviewing the proposals from industry, OSU will select a shipyard in early 2017.
The 2017 President’s budget calls for building two RCRVs, but until a final budget is passed by Congress the plan is to prepare a shipyard contract to build one RCRV with options for additional vessels.
Upon delivery, the NSF will assume ownership of the first vessel and any subsequent vessels, but Oregon State expects to operate the first vessel for sciences missions primarily in the eastern North Pacific Ocean basin.
Additional vessels would be operated in the Atlantic and Gulf regions of the U.S. by other institutions that the NSF would select in late 2017.
“These ships will also have the ability to operate near ice and are considered ‘ice classed,’ although they are not ice-breakers,” Bailey said. The first ship will likely be delivered in 2020.
So if you’re shipyard looking for a Firm Fixed Price Contract to build the nation’s newest federally-funded research ship, check out this website for details.