The contract for the construction of the new Dutch ocean-going research vessel (RV) Anna Weber-van Bosse was signed on Texel on 16 December. After years of preparations, construction can now begin on this innovative, sustainable and unique vessel that will replace the 35-year-old RV Pelagia.

The new ship will be prepared for the use of methanol and has the ability to work close to the edge of the sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic, which is important given the rapid melting due to climate change. The flagship of the Dutch research fleet is named after Anna Weber-van Bosse, the Netherlands’ first female marine biologist to conduct research at sea.

‘Compared to the current RV Pelagia, the RV Anna Weber-van Bosse will be equipped with much larger laboratories, more accommodations and more modern equipment,’ says Han Dolman, Director of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ).

He adds: ‘As we’re increasingly aware that the seas and oceans are fundamental to the natural systems on earth – systems that give us our food, energy and raw materials and that regulate our climate – it is vital for us to better understand trends and potential tipping points in marine processes. That knowledge will serve as a foundation for the sustainable use of oceans, and for climate adaptation and mitigation. This would not be possible without a modern research vessel.’

The RV Anna Weber-van Bosse will be the largest new vessel in the national research fleet, and will be available in two years to all of the Netherlands’ marine researchers. The research fleet consists of three vessels managed by the National Marine Facilities (NMF) department of NIOZ, which is part of the Dutch Research Council (NWO).

Also read: Spanish shipyard to build new NIOZ research flagship Anna Weber-van Bosse

Astilleros Armon to build the ship

To the dismay of among others trade organisation Netherlands Maritime Technology, NWO recently approved the definitive grant of the contract for this project to Spanish shipbuilder Astilleros Armon. NIOZ said this shipyard had emerged as the best option from the obligatory European tender based on price, technical specifications, sustainability, action plan, project organisation and innovation.

Astilleros Armon is the party that best complements the technical specifications, which include a detailed inventory of all of the scientific, technical and functional requirements of all of the potential Dutch stakeholders, including the NMF and the crew of the RV Pelagia.

Also read: Dutch maritime industry outraged that Spanish yard will build new NIOZ ship

This isn’t Astilleros Armon’s first experience with the construction of research vessels. The shipyard recently delivered the RV Tom Crean to the Irish Marine Institute. Laudelino Alperi Baragano, CEO-owner of Astilleros Armon: ‘The Irish vessel is indeed the tenth research vessel delivered by Armon in the past ten years and we are currently building other research vessels for New Zealand, Iceland and an Antarctic polar research vessel for Spain.’

Named after female marine biologist

The flagship of the Dutch research fleet will be named after Anna Weber-van Bosse, the Netherlands’ first female marine biologist to conduct research at sea. At the turn of the twentieth century, she made substantial contributions to the development of the marine sciences in the Netherlands, as indicated by her many publications, enormous algae collection and honourary doctorate from Utrecht University.

Anna Weber-van Bosse
Anna Weber-van Bosse.

One of her contributions was the report on her research into chalkweed and algae as a member of the Siboga expedition to the Dutch East Indies in 1899-1900. Read more about it in her biography.

Also read: VIDEO: New NIOZ research vessel Wim Wolff moves out of production hall

Improvements RV Anna Weber-van Bosse compared to RV Pelagia

  • A large aft deck offers space for more modular research containers to conduct experiments at sea.
  • The ice class will facilitate research closer to the edge of the ice, which is extremely urgent to study melting ice caps.
  • The vessel will be equipped with DP2 to facilitate dynamic positioning with a high degree of precision, which is a requirement for working in windmill parks to study the ecology there.
  • The drop keel makes it possible to use equipment for observations deep in the water column, without obstruction from the boundary layer.
  • The design specifically addresses the use of autonomous devices (drones, Autonomous Underwater Vehicles) or Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV).
  • The vessel will be able to accommodate double the number of researchers on board, which makes it possible for multiple teams to work simultaneously, 24 hours per day.
  • The A-frame on the aft deck is taller and stronger, so the German autonomous drilling system MEBO can be operated from the AWvB to obtain long core samples from the deep seas.
  • In addition to traditional multibeam sonar equipment, the new vessel will also be equipped with a higher resolution multibeam to make highly precise measurements, especially in shallower waters.

Also read: New modular AUV for Dutch marine research community

Specifications of the Anna Weber-van Bosse

  • Length overall: 79.98 m
  • Breadth moulded: 17.00 m
  • Depth to main deck: 8.70 m
  • Summer draught: 5.00 m
  • Scantling draught: 5.50 m
  • Gross Tonnage approx.: 3481 GT
  • Accommodation: 46 (16 crew and 30 scientists)